Sicilian Poetry


Antonino Provenzano (1944 - )

portrait Antonino Provenzano was born in Castellammare del Golfo on July 24, 1944. He now lives on Long Island and is the owner of a men's hair salon in the heart of Manhattan, where impromptu Sicilian poetry readings often take place at the insistence of his friends. He is active in promoting Sicilian culture and is Vice President of Arba Sicula.


This selection demonstrates both his poetic talent and his fine sense of humor.



Iu ti vogghiu tantu beni
picchì tu si nzuccarata,
ma picchì si spini teni?
Non voi essiri tuccata?

Ma lu sai chi fazzu iu?
Iu ti spuogghiu nura nura,
e mi carma lu disiu
si sta vucca t'assapura.


You are sweet as a caress
I love you so very much
but you wear a spiny dress
Don't you want to feel my touch?

What I do, you know I must?
'til you are nude I will undress you,
so to satisfy my lust
when I can taste you and caress you.

--English translation by Arthur & Alice Dieli

From the book, Vinissi... : I'd Love to Come..., by Antonino Provenzano, edited and translated into Englsh by Gaetano Cipolla, LEGAS, Brooklyn, 1995, p 26.

Translator's note: La Ficurinnia (literally, the fig from India) is the Sicilian name for the prickly pear that was introduced into Sicily from the West Indies. It's a prized delicacy grown in great quantities throughout Sicily.

Provenzano has written a second book of poetry entitled Tornu / The Return, published by LEGAS in 2009 and translated into English by Gaetano Cipolla.

Here's a selection from Tornu / The Return, entitled Arba di Primavera (a Castellammare del Golfo).

         (a Castellamare del Golfo)

L'arba chi spunta di la primavera
mustra lu celu ch'è azzuru e sirenu.

Lu mari calmu vasa la scugghera,
e la campagna pari, nenti menu
na zita 'nfesta 'menzu a na ciurera
supra un tappitu virdi di tirrenu.

Chist'arba ch'è prumissa di un gran iornu
m'ispira paci e schiara tut'attornu.

               (to Castellamare del Golfo)

The dawn that breaks in springtime
reveals the blue sky's serenity.

The languid sea nuzzles the rocky shore,
and the countryside a damsel betrothed
dancing among the flowers galore
on a terrene greenery carpeted.

This dawn, the promise of a grand day,
fills me with peace and brightens the way.

--English translation by Arthur Dieli

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Last updated 1/12/10