I mè i pensavan ca sarisi diventà
Almen impurtant mè Edison o anca pusè grand,
parché da fio fasivi mi i balon
e i aquilon gigantésch, e i giogh a urulugeria
e i lucumutiv cun la sò feruvia
e i telefunin ad tòla, cun la corda/cul sò spàgh
Sunavi anca la corna e dipingivi i quàdar
Fasivi i mudel ad creta e una volta o fai la part
dal cativ in t’l’Uturon
Ma po a vintun an m’eri spusà
E gh’avivi ben da viv; insì o ‘mparà ‘l masté
Da fa ‘l mecanich urlugè
Gh’avivi al giuelier al centar ad la piàsa
Sempar pensand, s’intenda – pensand pensand sempar però
no al masté, ma al mè mutur
ca studiavi i calcul par fà
E tuta la cità l’er lì dré a lumà
Par vedal in funsion, ma in funsion al gh’è stai mai.
Un quaidun da quei men gram i avaran dit
ca s’eri un genio tarpà dal mè masté,
ma l’er no vera – gh’avivi no la testa.

Walter Simmons

by Edgar Lee Masters

My parents thought that I would be
As great as Edison or greater:
For as a boy I made balloons
And wondrous kites and toys with clocks
And little engines with tracks to run on
And telephones of cans and thread.
I played the cornet and painted pictures,
Modeled in clay and took the part
Of the villain in the “Octoroon.”
But then at twenty-one I married
And had to live, and so, to live
I learned the trade of making watches
And kept the jewelry store on the square,
Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking,—
Not of business, but of the engine
I studied the calculus to build.
And all Spoon River watched and waited
To see it work, but it never worked.
And a few kind souls believed my genius
Was somehow hampered by the store.
It wasn’t true. The truth was this:
I didn’t have the brains.

leggi anche la versione in siciliano di Marco Scalabrino qui