A Marechiare (A Neapolitan Love Song)

By Thomas Keyes
Dec. 8, 2008

On October 14, 2008, Neapolitan was accepted as the official language of Campania, a region of southern Italy that has Naples as its capital. So I guess there'll be no more talk of a Neapolitan dialect; it is now the Neapolitan language, or Napulitano.

To mark the occasion, I have decided to submit an article on the Neapolitan song A Marechiare . The music for the song was written by Francesco Tosti and the lyrics by Salvatore di Giacomo. The song appeared in 1886. Marechiare is a town in Campania, through which flows a river that one may gaze upon from windows above, as can be seen in this little picture from Neapolitan Wikipedia:


If one consults Neapolitan Wikipedia, he or she will also find that the lyrics posted there disagree in some minor points with the lyrics that I have below. Don't even bother to try to figure out which set, if either, is correct. Neapolitan is simply not as well documented online as Italian, and a definitive answer is not available. I got my version from Italiamerica.org, a website devoted to Neapolitan songs, where the song can also be heard sung by Tito Schipa (pronounced Skeepa):


I've known of this song since about 1950, but only recently have I learned to sing it. As for the Neapolitan lyrics, their meaning is fairly obvious to anyone who has some experience with the Romance languages. If my translation has any errors, I apologize.

A Marechiare

Quanno spònta la luna a Marechiare
Pure li pisce nce fanno a ll’ammore.
Se revòtano ll’onne de lu mare.
Pè la prièzza càgnano culore,
Quanno spònta la luna a Marechiare.
A Marechiare ce sta na fenesta.
La passiona mia ce tuzzulèa.
Nu garofano addora ’int’a na testa.
Passa ll’acqua pè sotto e murmulèa,
A Marechiare ce sta na fenesta.

Chi dice ca li stelle sò lucente
Nun sape st’uocchie ca tu tiene ’nfronte.
Sti ddoje stelle li ssaccio i sulamente
Dint’a lu core ne tengo li ppònte.
Chi dice ca li stelle sò lucente?
Scètate, Caruli, ca ll’aria è doce
Quanno maje tantu tiempo aggi’ aspettato.
P’accompagnà li suone cu la voce,
Stasera na chitarra aggio purtato.
Scètate, Caruli, ca ll’aria è doce.

My own translation:


When the moon rises in Marechiare,
All the fish there make love.
The waves of the ocean toss about.
Out of joy, they change their colors,
When the moon rises in Marechiare.
In Marechiare, there’s a window.
My passion is there.
A carnation in a vase gives off its fragrance.
The water flows below and murmurs.
In Marechiare, there’s a window.

Whoever says that the stars are radiant
Has never known the eyes that are beneath your brow.
Those two eyes are known by me alone.
In my heart I have their points.
Who says that the stars are radiaant?
Wake up, Caroline, for the air is sweet,
Especially since it is so long awaited.
To accompany the voice with sound,
Tonight I have brought a guitar.
Wake up, Caroline, for the air is sweet.

I don’t quite understand the two lines;

Those two eyes are known by me alone.
In my heart I have their points.

What I don’t understand is exactly what is meant by ‘points’ here. Perhaps it means ‘eyeballs’, 'gaze' or 'image' by some sort of metonymy. If anyone knows, please don't hesitate to enlighten me.


About the author Thomas Keyes: I have written two books: A SOJOURN IN ASIA (non-fiction) and A TALE OF UNG (fiction), neither published so far.

I have studied languages for years and traveled extensively on five continents.

Visit my website here.

Email: udikeyes@yahoo.com

Comment on this article here!


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