Elettra Bedon

Cesare Ruffato's first published poems in dialect appeared in Padova diletta (1988), a book which - with Floema della pietra the same year - closed a long and fruitful period of poetry in Italian. Since the publication of his first collection (Tempo senza nome, 1960), there has been no lack of critical discussion on this and subsequent works: La nave per Atene (1962), Il vanitoso pianeta (1965), Cuorema (1969), Caro ibrido amore (1974), Mimusgrafie (1978), Parola bambola (1983), Trasparenze luminose (1987). Also written in Italian was Prima durante dopo, which came out in December 1989, but - because of the themes that inform it and because it also contains poems by his daughter Francesca - it must be considered separately.
If this introduction to Ruffato's dialect poetry begins with a list of works in Italian, it is because his poetic itinerary - from the sixties to the present - follows the same track, and one cannot speak (write) of his dialect poetry without referring to the Italian poetry that has preceded it, for several reasons.
Meanwhile, it is important to underscore that Ruffato does not consider his writings in dialect less valuable than their Italian counterparts. In the phase of metalinguistic reflection, both within the texts and through theoretical observations, he has more than once stressed the positive aspects of writing in dialect.
Moreover, it must be noted that the essential characteristics of Ruffato's poetry do not change in going from Italian to dialect, either in form or subject matter. mentioning these characteristics is a particularly difficult task, not because they are difficult to identify, but because any label will be inevitably reductive, incapable by itself to describe the complexity and originality of what it refers to.
It can be said with extreme concision - with respect to form - that Ruffato's texts are characterized by an experimentalism (multilinguism, creation of neologisms, deconstruction of the syntax) that reveals how this author has always taken into account everything that moves in the intellectual sphere - especially in literature and psychoanalysis - in order to absorb it, filter it, and use it in a markedly original way. Further, his fundamental themes are ethical reflection and civil protest: once again Ruffato seems immersed in the world in which he lives and taking active part in it.
At this point it seems useful to point out another of Ruffato's characteristics, namely the restraint and reserve of his sentiments, which leads one to hypothesize that culture (experimentalism) has become - more or less consciously - a shield against the manifestation of emotions, always strong, to the point of seeming at times excessive.
Two years after the publication of Padova diletta, Ruffato began a long period of writing in dialect with Parola pirola, without fundamental changes in themes and subject matter, as was mentioned, but centering on the same presence: his daughter Francesca, who died tragically in July 1989.
One can surmise that the first use of dialect was instinctive (utilizing a medium that he felt was capable of greater adherence to what he wanted to say), and which only later - through a reflection that would lead to Diaboleria, published in 1993 but written right after Parola pirola - was chosen consciously, because it fulfilled other needs.
The single poems and the collections that follow (after Parola pirola, 1990, El sabo, 1991, and I bocéte, 1992) are all attempts on Ruffato's part to communicate with Francesca, his only daughter with whom he shared so many interests, and to bring her back to life.
In 1996 Ruffato went back to Italian with Etica declive, and in 1998 published Scribendi licentia, a book that - as the inside cover reads - "contains most of Ruffato's dialect poetry." Besides the collections of the early nineties, there are numerous unpublished poems, which contribute to complete the portrait of a poet who intended to give "an affectionate, ethical recognition" to his mother tongue with this volume, in the attempt "tinged with nostalgia, to correspond to the intimate echoes, particularly subtle and unreachable, of its voice."

Borsetto L., Preface, in Parola pìrola, Biblioteca Padua: Cominiana, 1990.
Turci R., "Pagine per Parola pìrola di Cesare Ruffato", in Il lettore di provincia, n.82, 1991, pp. 49-61.
Paccagnella I., Preface, in El sabo, Padua: Biblioteca Cominiana, 1991.
Daniele A., Afterword, in I bocéte, Udine: Campanotto, 1992.
Marchetti G., "Lettura in due tempi della poesia di Cesare Ruffato," in Otto/Novecento, n.2, 1992, pp. 185-92.
Cortelazzo M., Preface, in Diaboleria, Ravenna: Longo, 1993.
Pellegrini E., "Sulla poesia di Cesare Ruffato," in Otto/Novecento, n.3-4, 1993, pp.163-73.
Muzzioli F., "Lo sperimentalismo in dialetto nella nuova fase della poesia di Cesare Ruffato," in La Battana, n.110, 1993, pp.47-56.
Pamio M., "Parole di legno bruciano: poesia recente di Ruffato," in Hortus, n.15, 1994, pp. 118-26.
Baldassarri G., "Due nuovi libri di poesia (in dialetto) di Cesare Ruffato," in Il rinnovamento, n.224, 1994, pp. 44-47.
Borsetto L., "Dire la complessità in dialetto," in Quaderni Veneti, n.22, 1995, pp. 141-53.
Caniato L., "L'occhio midriatico. L' 'interpoesia' di Cesare Ruffato," Ravenna: Longo, 1995.
Bedon E., "La riflessione poetica di Cesare Ruffato : una lettura  'strategica'," in La Battana, n.3, 1997, pp. 26-35.

Poems translated by Luigi Bonaffini

Dove e come vivere co 'sti incantamenti
sensa combinare la distansa co la speransa
alambicando a spirito i pensieri da inscrignare
o che discore el sguardo astrato
robando el più possibile la vose del silensio
scoltare el respiro de la parola
lampra statua bambola
nova vecia leterale poetica traficà
sempre la fabulerà
intrigando erotisandose
sacrificà a la roba sensa che mai
boca a boca consista
co illa sentimento del tempo
che imaga transduse sublima.

(da Parola pìrola)

Dove e come vivere con questi incantesimi/ senza combinare la distanza con la speranza/ alambiccando a spirito i pensieri da raccogliere in scrigno (inscrignare)/ o che discorre lo sguardo astratto/ rubando il più possibile la voce del silenzio/ ascoltare il respiro della parola/ trasparente statua bambola/ nuova vecchia letterale poetica trafficata/ sempre lei affabulerà/ intrigando erotizzandosi/ sacrificata alla cosa senza che mai/ bocca a bocca consista/ con illa sentimento del tempo/ che immaga transduce sublima.

Where and how to live with these spells
without combining distance and hope
distilling in alcohol the thoughts to be coffered ???
or that the abstracted gaze goes over
stealing as much as possible the voice of silence
to listen to the word's breath
transparent statue doll
new old literal poetic trafficked
it will always fable
entangling eroticizing itself
sacrificed to the thing without ever
mouth to mouth
forming with it
the sentiment of time
that enchants transduces sublimates.

E se melina coi verbi al condissionale
pignate de ponsiopilaterie
gargarismi ganzi co la parola
prevenzione, sensa el costruto
de cultura e carità.
La gioventù nel capio alchemico
nero svena el sacrifissio
cossì malamente
da no portarse gnente
pardelà da contare.

(da El sabo)

E si melina con i verbi al condizionale/ pentole di ponziopilaterie/ gargarismi furbi con la parola/ prevenzione, senza il fondamento/ di cultura e carità./ La gioventù nel cappio alchemico/ nero svena il sacrificio/ così tristemente/ da non portarsi niente/ nell'aldilà da raccontare.

And one holds off with verbs in the conditional
pots full of pontiuspilateries
sly gurglings with the word
prevention, without the basis
of culture and charity.
Youth in the black alchemical
snare bleed sacrifice dry
so wretchedly
that they can't bring anything
to tell in the beyond.

Sgorlo dai fiori fiabe seche
nuvole m'ingossa la lente
interiore el to sonare co l'acqua
oracoli celesti che spalpugna
le recie dei cieli, insaco el vodo
de la vita che te ga in antisipo
folo ben in mente qualche rigo
sacro che me sfunfigna foja scrita.
Na sbrassà de volte a luce albasia
go fruà el calendario, robe robe
sempre miele fiele
de le varie lengue, go tentà enigmi
simulacri date nel to silabario,
imbragà sbaco
interdeto a starte drìo
sento forte cortei e mutansa
mia hermosa, mia edera effatà.

da I bocéte, pagina 105

Scuoto dai fiori fiabe secche/ nuvole mi soffocano la lente/ interiore il tuo suonare con l'acqua/ oracoli celesti che cincischiano/ le orecchie dei cieli, insacco il vuoto/ della vita che ti ha in anticipo/ pigio bene in mente qualche rigo/ sacro che mi strapazza foglia scritta./ Moltissime volte alla luce del vento albale/ ho consumato il calendario, cose cose/ sempre miele fiele/ delle varie lingue, ho tentato enigmi/ simulacri date del tuo sillabario,/ impacciato mi affanno/ interdetto a rincorrerti/ sento forte lame e mutamento/ mia bella, mia edera apriti.

I shake old fairy tales off flowers
clouds suffocate my inner lens
and your making music with water
heavenly oracles that shred
the ears of the sky, I stuff life's
emptiness that has you ahead of time
I squeeze in my mind some sacred
line that vexes me written leaf.
So many times in the light of dawn's wind
I have gone through the calendar, things things
always honey gall
of the various languages, I have tried enigmas
simulacra dates in your ABC,
entangled I struggle
dumbfounded to chase you
I hear loudly blades and changes
my lovely, my ivy, open.


Le onge se sfesa par longo nebiae
piate s-censae, squasi sensa luneta
la forfe fa male, le ròsego
co fadiga, colpa dei ani coi ragi
tardi se s'incorse de 'ste carogne
me strussio a tor su fregole foji.
Radioleso par sfissio de pontare
su quelo che le robe podaria
essere, no me vergogno sensa
manicure, scolto el dotore
dei infortuni sul lavoro, digo
de pèto a l'amore par la vita,
de sera, olivo salvadego in posa,
le conso perben in ojo fino
no se torna indrio a luto dolore.
La famejola vardava 'ste onge
impegnae par la paga co passion
desso sensa speransa in pension
sensa rason stuae lenti
co tante ombre latenti.

da Smanie, pagina 238

Unghie Le unghie si fendono in verticale appannate/ appiattite scheggiate, quasi senza lunetta/ la forbice fa male, le rosicchio/ con fatica, colpa degli anni con le radiazioni/ in ritardo ci si accorge di queste carogne/ mi arrabatto a raccogliere briciole e fogli./ Radioleso per lo sfizio di puntare/ su ciò che le cose potrebbero/ essere, non mi vergogno senza/ manicure, ascolto il dottore/ degli infortuni sul lavoro, sostengo/ d'impeto l'amore per la vita,/ di sera, come olivo selvatico in posa,/ le condisco per bene con olio raffinato/ non si ritorna indietro dal lutto e dolore./ La famigliola custodiva queste unghie/ impegnate per la paga con passione/ ora senza speranza in pensione/ senza ragione spente lenti/ con tante ombre latenti.


Nails crack lengthwise clouded
flattened splintered, almost without lunula
the scissors hurt, I've trouble
gnawing on them, blame it on the years of radiation
you notice these bastards too late
I scramble to pick up crumbs and sheets.

Radiation-injured for the hell of aiming
at what things could be,
I am not ashamed of not having
a manicure, I listen to the doctor
who handles work accidents, I forcefully
maintain my love for life,
in the evening, a wild olive tree posing,
I season them well with refined oil
you can't go back from mourning and grief.
The small family kept these nails
for the paycheck with passion
now without hope getting a pension
without reason spent slowly
with so many latent shadows.

No so se me consolo d'un buso
da studente ad hoc al Verdi in logion
lusinghe ociae da londi sbecae d'ilusion
anfosa. Desso « est ma vie trop pesande
a porter …
mors, de ma vie me delivre! » delusion.
Dove parole e figure no riva
el mistero sbassa seje e sipario
la peripatetica nera mena
el gnente par sé tuto
l'estremo cao icse de ognun.

(da Giergo mortis)

Non so se mi consolo d'un buco (posticino)/ adatto a studente al Verdi in loggione/ lusinghe sguardi da lontano scheggiati d'illusione/ afosa. Ora « la mia vita è troppo ardua /da tollerare… / morte, liberami dalla mia vita! » delusione./ Dove parole e figure non sono sufficienti/ il mistero abbassa ciglia e sipario/ la tenebrosa paripatetica conduce/ il nulla per sé tutto/ l'estremo limite incognito di ognuno.

I don't know if I can find comfort
in a ad hoc student hole up in the gallery at the Verdi
flatteries glances from a distance splintered
with sultry illusion. Now "my life is too heavy
to bear ...
death, free me from my life!" disappointment.
Where words and figures do not reach
mystery lowers eyelashes and curtain
the dark streetwalker brings
nothingness for herself all of
everyone's extreme unknown limit.