Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thoughts of An Italian Writer: A Eulogy to a Friend (5b)

Dr. Antonio Castaldo, Sociologist and Journalist, Brusciano, Italy.

Continued from (5a)

Felice Giannino was part of that small formation of authors whom the festivity masters turn to each year in order to obtain the lyrics set to music that will represent exclusively this or that giglio in the competition for the 'song' which will accompany a procession for the duration of the festival, evolving together with the music and distinctive show. Once the feast is passed, the following year, becomes common heritage, the songs are often used interchangeably and among the most common are those of Felice Giannino which recognizes Ninuccio Tramontano as one of the greatest masters of the genre such that Brusciano ever had.

Nonetheless before being a songwriter, Felice Giannino was a poet. He with his simple yet intense verses, gathers a state of mind, photographs a situation, fixes to paper a thought destined otherwise to fly away, subjects to the inexorable law of the times. We discover therefore images so dear that recall and indicate the moments of his formation, employment, of the political-union engagement, family life and of country, and an honest existence made up of joys and sorrows.

Inasmuch as this self taught laborer has found, that after cultivating in secret a passion for poetry, the common people, the people who he so loved and which is reciprocated in equal measure, a favorable reaction, as empathy, to acknowledge together within those words, those sentiments, those events, in that way of comparing himself with the surrounding reality, in a continuous osmosis, that it characterizes a common life experience. This has prompted him to continue and exist without shame to those people of whom he sings the spirit of it. Promoting himself directly in public readings at meetings and cultural festivals not only has been appreciated in Brusciano, but also on competent squares of Nola, Barra and Napoli whose feast of the Gigli and caves feet never fail to submit its old and new songs.

However, let's observe more closely the work of Felice Giannino. In reading his poems, two authors come to mind, for their similarities in form and content: Raffaele Viviani (Poesie, Napoli 1972) and Edgar Lee Masters (Anthology of Spoon River, Torino 1971). The first one, for its immediate authentic language, expressed in the style of the native Neopolitan that seems to heal those fractures, that separation between art and the life of Pirandello's memory. The second one, for life itself, that flows, that the province to an extent can experience the strong passions, the dramas of jealousy, the inseparable friendships, the strong sense of love and family, but also capable of great envy and falsehood and in the slow coming of time, pulls out its routine of joys of the few dreams that have come true and regretting the many that were never realized.

The lyrics that were intended to be the theme music plays instead one of nostalgia : for an ancient love whose memory is revived by “Na frunnella e’ rosa dint’a nu libro e’ scola abbandonato”, (1)(A rose petal inside a text book left in an abandoned school) which might have happened in the midst of the hands putting in place the old bookcase at home; for the distant land towards which he discovers then the duty of patriotic servitude. Finally the sentiment for the feast, which has a bitter taste although transient, and while performing, the nostalgia reappears triggered by the hourglass of anticipation ‘pecché nce vò nat’anno pè vedé chisti gigli, sti figli ‘e sta Città’’.(because it is required another year to see these gigli, children of this City.) (2)

From the cultural event at this time, to the continuity of today, we have the human and artistic legacy of Felice Giannino.

Dr. Antonio Castaldo

Footnote: (1) This is written in the Neapolitan language. In Italian it means "un petalo di rosa dentro un libro di scuola abbandonato." It is a verse from one of Felice Giannino's poems.

(2) This is written in the Neapolitan language. In Italian it means "perché ci vuole un altro anno per vedere questi gigli, figli di questa Città" This is a verse from one of Felice Giannino's songs.

Translated into English by Miriam Medina
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