Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Buon Giorno BELL' Anima!: CORRECTED POST

I suppose there's a certain spiritedness to the poses Sandro and his friend are striking above, but I doubt it's in keeping with what was intended by whoever left the message on the wall behind them
CORRECTION, 23 JUNE 2013: I'm afraid I have to insert this preface to the original post that follows, as I've just discovered a major and rather embarrassing error: the scrawl on the wall in the photo above does not say, as I quoted in the original post below, "Buon giorno dell'anima!", but the much simpler and easier-to-translate: Buon giorno bell' anima!"

"Good morning, beautiful soul!" is what I saw as I passed by this wall today. How could I ever have misremembered this? The photo above was taken in mid-April, and the first letter of the penultimate word is mostly obscured, but how did I ever get it into my head that it was "dell'"?

It's a mystery to me, and another example of how little attention I can pay to something--even when I seem to believe I'm paying attention.

Of course this doesn't alter the validity of the offered translations made in the comments section below, nor the points about how different languages express affection and sincerity... It just makes them unnecessary to what's actually written on the wall!

So, for making a difficulty where there really was none, I can only offer my apologies. And, yes, I do so from my soul, or from my heart--depending on your native tongue.


I've passed by the graffiti in the photo above fairly often and never felt comfortable with my ability to put it into English. Buon giorno dell'anima is something like "Good morning of the spirit"--but does this really make much sense in English, or, more importantly, sound very good in English? When it comes to translation sometimes thinking in terms of literal word-for-word substitutions only gets one so far; so how might it be said more loosely in English, with an equivalent English-language spiritedness if not literalness?

"Dawn of the soul"? "Awakening of the spirit"?

I don't know. I was sure I was making it too hard--and I probably still am. So I asked a young Venetian friend who knows English as well as Italian, expecting him to provide a ready answer. Perhaps, after all, it was a phrase in common usage among native speakers.

But he, too, seemed puzzled by it. 

He said it seemed poetic, and not something one usually heard. He said he kind of liked it, but he didn't know how he'd say it in English, and wasn't even quite sure exactly what to do with it in Italian. But that heart at the end of it suggested to him that it was a message or greeting from whoever defaced the wall to his or her beloved, or desired.

"Good morning, sunshine"?

I don't know. Do you?


  1. A short comment on behalf of a French reader of your excellent blog. At the end of the graffiti a heart is drawn, so I suppose it was painted by somebody in love just to say goodmorning to a beloved girl/boy. It is not philosophical - even if the graffiti is written closed to Palazzo Berlendis, it is not a Nietzsche's sentence to greet the Sun or the Dawn of The Spirit - and not quite poetical. Above all, it is stupid to make dirty a wall in the city. I supposed it was painted by a young Venitian and not an old one, as the so resigned old Venitian woman you photographed in a vaporetto some days ago (wonderful photo full of humanity !). In French, we may say "Mon Âme" - "Anima Mia", "My Soul" - to say "My Love". It is a bit sophisticated and rather old-fashioned, but it possible. I don't know if you may say "My Soul" in English/American rather than “Honey” or “Sweet Heart” to be out of the mainstream when you are in love. I am sure Italian may say "Anima Mia" or "Anima Cara": why not only "Anima", as a signature, if you are a young Italian boy or girl in love and in a hurry, and with not enough space on the wall. You should ask to your Italian friends, may be not yet to Sandro. So I would translate this graffiti "Goodmorning on behalf of your Beloved" which is certainly very heavy in English/American. I can't do better. I am sure you'll find a more vigorous wording. Congratulations for your blog.

    1. Thanks Auvraisien for your very thoughtful comment and your very kind remarks. Your reading of it makes sense to me, and makes me realize how very materialist contemporary English usage tends to be compared to French or Italian. People do speak of having a "soul mate" in English, but typically in English I think we stick closer to the "heart", which probably strikes us as less "abstract." As you say, "Sweet heart;" or we love "from the heart". To love from the soul--well, it's possible, but in common usage it would remind many English speakers of something like Romeo and Juliet, very poetical and dramatic and probably a bit old-fashioned...

  2. If I could catch the "artist" I'd like to beat an explanation out of him! (or her)

    1. Is that what's meant by being a "tough critic", Andrew? I'm sick of graffiti also, but have to admit in this case to being a bit less bothered by it because it makes a rather nice photo backdrop--and is in what is almost a "blind alley", at least in the sense of not being overlooked by inhabited structures.

  3. I think it's pretty simple - the...inscriptor wants to tell the addressee that this wish of a great day is not a routine formula but comes directly from his or her soul.

    In Russian we have an expression желaю от всей души, which means I wish you (something) with all my soul.

    Probably, for English speakers this formula is a bit's almost kitschy. So there is no exact analog.

    1. Yes, I think you've singled out the translation problem, Sasha. We English-speakers tend to wish things "from the heart". Like the old Stevie Wonder song I just heard while out in which he "just calls to say I love you" and means it "from the bottom of his heart."