Learn Italian in Song: Certi Momenti

Certain Moments

Pierangelo Bertoli, 1980

A song in favor of a woman’s right to choose, from a time when either choice to be made for an unwanted pregnancy resulted in social stigma. Unfortunately, the song is relevant still today. For the moment (2008), abortion is legal in Italy, but the political right wing and the Catholic church are doing what they can to make obtaining an abortion – or even birth control – more difficult. Teenage pregnancy has not been a big phenomenon in Italy to date, but at this rate…

A year or two ago we went out to dinner at Taverna ai Poggi, a restaurant near our home in Lecco. The only table left was in the basement, alongside a large (pre-arranged) banquet of some sort. We were a merry little bunch, and the restaurant staff kept apologetically asking us to quiet down so we wouldn’t disturb the other group. Perforce, we listened to them, and were astonished to hear a long recital of vitriolic anti-abortion poetry. Had I had my wits about me, I should have replied with this song.

Anna che hai scavalcato le montagnee hai preso a pugni le tue

lo so che non é facile il tuo giorno

ma il tuo pensiero é fatto di ragioni

i padri han biasimato la tua azione

la chiesa ti ha bollato d’eresia

i cambiamento impone la reazione

e adesso sei il nemico e cosi’ sia


Credo che in certi momenti il cervello non sa piu’ pensare

e corre in rifugi da pazzi e

non vuole tornare

poi cado coi piedi per terra e

scoppiano folgore e tuono

non credo alla vita pacifica non credo al perdono

Adesso quando i medici di turno rifiuteranno di esserti d’aiuto

perchÉ venne un polacco ad insegnargli

che é piu’ cristiano imporsi col rifiuto

pretenderanno che tu torni indietro

e ti costringeranno a partorire

per poi chiamarlo figlio della colpa

e tu una Maddalena da pentire.


Volevo dedicarti quattro righe,

per quanto puo’ valere una canzone

credo che tu abbia fatto qualche cosa

anche se questa é solo un’opinione

che lascerai il tuo segno nella vita e i poveri bigotti reazionari

dovranno fare senza peccatrici

saranno senza scopi umanitari

(ritornello x2)

Anna, [you] who have climbed the mountainsand have beaten up your traditions

I know your day isn’t easy

but your thought is made up of [correct] reasons

The fathers have censured your action

the church has declared you a heretic

change requires reaction

and now you’re the enemy, and so be it.


I believe that in certain moments the brain doesn’t know how to think anymore

and runs into crazy refuges and doesn’t want to return

then I fall with my feet on the ground

and lightning and thunder explode

I don’t believe in the peaceful life,

I don’t believe in pardon.

Now that the doctors on duty

will refuse to help you

because a Polack* came to teach them

that it is more Christian to impose oneself by refusal

They will expect that you turn back

and they will force you to give birth

to then call him “child of shame” and you a Magdalene to repent.


I wanted to dedicate four lines to you, for whatever a song may be worth

I believe you have done something,

although this is only an opinion,

that will leave your sign in life

and the poor reactionary bigots

will have to do without [female] sinners

they will be without humanitarian aims.

* Polacco in Italian is not a pejorative term. It merely connotes a male citizen of Poland, in this specific case, Karol Wojtyla, aka the late Pope John Paul II. However, I think the context justifies using the pejorative English term rather than the neutral (and potentially confusing, in spite of capitalization) “Pole”.

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