Sicilian Poetry


Santo Calì (1918-1972)

    In the spring of 2004, Arba Sicula published its twenty fifth anniversary issue of the Journal Of Sicilian Folklore And Literature. The issue included a Special Section on the poet Santo Calì, born on November 18, 1918 in Linguaglossa, a town on the northeastern slopes of Mount Etna, in the province of Catania. The article includes a brief biography and tells us that he was a professor of Italian in the "Michele Amari" Liceo of Giarre for many years and that he was a member of the avant garde movement known as the Antigruppo.

Here are two selected examples from his Canti siciliani, plucked from pages 134 and 136 of the Journal Of Sicilian Folklore And Literature.

The photo was copied from

Omini onesti, giusti, intelligenti,
travagghiaturi, timurati e santi
probbi, caritatevuli, prudenti...
quantu cci nn'è nta ssi campusanti!
Honest men, straightforward, intelligent,
steady workers, god-fearing and virtuous
truthful, caring, prudent...
so many of them are buried here!


N'amuri veru, o Adeli, evi camelia
ncacucciulata, spàmpina e si sfa.
L'amuri fintu è bàlicu di plastica
ca pò durari pi l'eternità.
A true love, oh Adele, is the camellia
it buds, it blooms, and it dies.
A false love is a plastic violet
that can last for an eternity.

English translation by Arthur V. Dieli

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