Once upon a time, in a land I can’t remember
Once upon a time, in a land I can’t remember,
was a King who had managed
to get all the people to agree
and to join in one single party,
which was the monarchic one, so that
it was the same he wanted.
When a subject was born, the government
would remove a special gland from them,
so that their inner feeling would be adjusted
to that of the national conscience,
so that they would grow up believing in that idea,
just like a charioteer wears his livery.
If you were looking for an anarchist – good luck!
fat chance, you wouldn’t find anybody,
no socialists, no republicans,
not for love or money;
any remnant of an opinion
was sold off for a dime.
Some principles, after all, are like a hook;
and when things come to the point,
the purpose of parties is to be an outlet for the citizens,
who hope for any kind of public office,
and who – in the heat of the moment –
would hook onto the cheapest, quickest ideal.
That’s why, in that land I told you about,
they were living in such a happy way:
with no jostling, with no spite,
all tamed to hold the same opinion.
People who had a different stance,
were held to be freaks.
Every evening, the people would gather
in front of the Palace to see the Sovereign
opening his window among the cheering,
and showing himself among the hand clapping,
and then he would begin talking
as if he were talking to a single person.
— People! — he would ask — How are you? —
And all the people below
would reply in chorus: — Very well!
We feel like we have won the lottery! —
And after telling them some other things,
the King, happy, would send them to bed.
It happened that one evening the King asked them:
— Do you all agree? — And then
from a hundred thousand mouths you could
hear nothing but a prolonged «Yes», which lasted half an hour.
Only one little man went astray,
and after saying «Yes» he said «But…».
Imagine what happened!
— We need to cudgel him! — shouted the crowd —
Indecisiveness are no longer allowed,
otherwise we’re back to shilly-shally…
— Let me explain, then we’ll see…
— said the man, who wasn’t dumb. —
In fact, as soon as the King asked us
if we agreed, I replied
in the way we had agreed up;
however, a good friend of mine who was standing next to me,
in making his way, right at that moment,
he stepped on my calluses unexpectedly.
So, I didn’t protest:
that «but» that I let out in good faith1
more than a thought I had in my mind,
was a pain I had in my foot.
But – I was saying – it’s no use if we step on each other’s calluses.
When – for ambition or profit –
one no longer minds where he’s walking,
and he steps on his mate’s calluses,
it’s all the worse for the discipline… —
It was then that the crowd, persuaded,
said: — All right… but… just stay at home.
To Trilussa, in the month in which he left the Earth, and his poems, to our time.