Il Cantilena [The Chant] by Pietru Caxaro

A recital of my misfortunes, O my neighbours, the following I shall tell you,
Such as has not been found either in the past or in your lifetime.
An ungoverned, kingless, and lordless heart
Has thrown me into a deep well without a way up,
Into which, desiring death by drowning, I descend by the steps of my downfall,
Rising and falling always in the deep water.

My house, it has fallen down, I have long been a-building.
The workmen were not to blame, but it was the loose clay that gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
My house! It has fallen down!

My house! It has pushed down its foundations.
The workmen were not to blame, but the rock gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
The house I had long been a-building has collapsed!
And that’s how my house fell down! Build it up again!
Change for it the place that harms it.
He who changes neighbourhood changes his fortune;
For there is a difference in every span of land:
Some there is which is white, some black, some red.
More than this. There should you … …

From: Wettinger, G. and Fsadni, M., Peter Caxaro’s Cantilena. A Poem in Medieval Maltese, 1968, Lux Press: Malta, p. 38.

Date: c1470 (original in Maltese) 1968 (translation in English)

By: Pietru Caxaro (c1400-1485)

Translated by: Godfrey Wettinger (1929-2015) and Mikiel Fsadni (1916-2013)

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