O uommibatto!
Agil, giocondo,
Che ti sei fatto
Irsuto e tondo!
Deh, non fuggire
Qual vagabondo
Non disparire
Forando il mondo:
Peso davvero
D'un emisfero
Non lieve il pondo.
                        O, wombat!
Agile, jocund,
How thou art wrought
Hirsute and round!
Ah, don't flee
Like a vagabond
Do not disappear
Burrowing the world:
Really the weight
Of a hemisphere
Would not outweigh that burden.

This poem was written by Christina Rossetti, otherwise best known for Goblin Market, to her brother Dante Gabriel on the occasion of his pet wombat being delivered while he was away. It is profoundly ridiculous, thus admired by your interlocutor. (The same goes for all episodes concerning this wombat, which, however, must be left for other, longer nodes.)

The cack-handed translation is provided only for purposes of reading comprehension; one hopes that metric liberty has not yet gone further than that it's visibly unsuited as verse. I've taken the editorial liberty of reïnstating the original fourth line, as found in Rossetti's letter: it seems that in print, the fourth line is liscio e rotondo, but that's ridiculous, both since wombats are far from smooth, and since the extra syllable ruins the scansion. I don't know why anyone would prefer that variant, but I don't. I've also corrected davero in the ninth line to davvero; for all I know the former was a perfectly correct spelling in 1869, but it's no longer in use. It goes, perhaps, without saying that »uommibatto« is not remotely correct Italian.

As for me, I'm actually very bad at Italian, so I welcome all corrections.


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