May 24th is "ITALIAN INFANTRY DAY"
It is the day in 1915 that Italy entered the First World War against Austria and Germany

The Famous Italian Song
"LA LEGGENDA DEL PIAVE "
by Giovanni Gaeta
Celebrates their victory at the river Piave in defense of the Italian homeland

music and lyrics submitted by
Col. Vincenzo Franco De Micheal (retired)
Panni(Foggia),Italy



"La Leggenda del Piave"

   


Written by Giovanni Gaeta, a well know Neapolitan musician, La Leggenda del Piave ('The Legend of the Piave') was published in 1918. This is perhaps the most famous Italian song of the First World War and remained popular for many decades afterwards. Reproduced below are the lyrics to the song, both in Italian plus an English translation. (See bottom of page for more)

La Leggenda del Piave

Il Piave mormorava calmo e placido al passaggio
dei primi fanti il ventiquattro maggio;
l'esercito marciava per raggiunger la frontiera
per far contro il nemico una barriera!
Muti passaron quella notte i fanti
tacere bisognava andare avanti.

S'udiva intanto dalle amate sponde
sommesso e lieve il tripudiar de l' onde.
Era un presagio dolce e lusinghiero.
Il Piave mormorò: Non passa lo straniero!

Ma in una notte trista si parlò di un fosco evento
e il Piave udiva l'ira e lo sgomento.
Ahi, quanta gente ha vista venir giù, lasciare il tetto;
poiché il nemico irruppe a Caporetto.
Profughi ovunque dai lontani monti,
venivano a gremir tutti i ponti.

s'udiva allor dalle violate sponde
sommesso e triste il mormorio de l' onde.
Come un singhiozzo in quell'autunno nero
il Piave mormorò: Ritorna lo straniero!

E ritornò il nemico: per l'orgoglio e per la fame
volea sfogar tutte le sue brame,
vedeva il piano aprico di lassù: voleva ancora
sfamarsi e tripudiare come allora!
No, disse il Piave, no, i fanti,
mai più il nemico faccia un passo avanti!

Si vide il Piave rigonfiar le sponde
e come i fanti, combattevan l' onde.
Rosso del sangue del nemico altero,
il Piave comandò: Indietro va, straniero!

Indietreggiò il nemico fino a Trieste, fino a Trento
e la Vittoria sciolse le ali al vento!
Fu sacro il patto antico, tra le schiere
furon visti risorgere Oberdan, Sauro e Battisti!
Infranse alfin l' italico valore
le forche e l' armi dell' impiccatore!

Sicure l' Alpi, libere le sponde
e tacque il Piave, si placaron l'onde.
Sul Patrio suol vinti i torvi Imperi,
la Pace non trovò né oppressi, né stranieri.

Sul Patrio suol vinti i torvi Imperi,
la Pace non trovò né oppressi, né stranieri.

English Translation - The Legend of the Piave

The Piave whispered calm and placid under the crossing
of the first infantry on may 24;
the army headed to the frontier
to make a wall against the enemy!
The soldiers crossed silently that night
they had to be silent and go forward.

From the beloved river banks we heard
light and low the exultation of the waves.
It was a sweet and propitious omen.
The Piave whispered: the foreigner shall not pass!

But a sad night we heard of a gloomy event
and the Piave felt the angry and the dismay
Ah, how many people it saw coming, leaving their homes;
because the enemy won at Caporetto.
Refugees everywhere, from far mountains,
they came to crowd all the bridges.

(Interesting note: the early version of the song
had instead the following lines:
a gloomy event = a betrayal
because the enemy won at Caporetto
for the shame accomplished at Caporetto.
This was because the disaster was charged upon the
units defending the Plezzo's hollow; it was later
discovered that these poor units had been annihilated
by the gas bombardment and were innocent)

We heard from the violated river-banks
light and sad the murmur of the waves
Like a sob in that black autumn
the Piave whispered: the foreigner returns!

And the enemy returned: he wished to wreak his desires
because of his pride and his hunger,
he saw the fertile plains from the upper ground,
he wanted to feed and to exult again!
They will not, the Piave and the infantry said,
the enemy will never advance again!

We saw the Piave raising his waves
the waves fighting along the infantry.
Red with the blow of the haughty enemy,
the Piave ordered: go back, foreigner!

The enemy went back to Trieste, to Trento
and the victory spreaded her wings!
among the ranks we saw Oberdan, Sauro and Battisti alive!
In the end the italian valour broke the
gallows tree and the weapons of the hanger!

(Note: Guglielmo Oberdan, Nazario Sauro and Cesare Battisti
were Italian patriots, they were from the Italian part of the
Austrian empire and thus they were Austrian citizens.
  Howewer Sauro and Battisti entered the Italian army in 1915
and during the war both received medals for bravery but were
later captured and sentenced to death by the Austrians)

Secured the Alps, free the shores
the Piave was silent, the waves calmed.
Once the grim empires were won, the peace didn't left
any oppressed neither any foreigner on the motherland's soil.

Once the grim empires were won, the peace didn't left
any oppressed neither any foreigner on the motherland's soil.

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Some History - At the beginning of World War I Italy remained neutral, claiming that the Triple Alliance had only defensive purposes, and the war was started by the Austro-Hungarian Empire . However, both the central empires and the Triple Entente tried to attract Italy on their side, and in April 1915 the Italian government agreed ( London Pact ) to declare war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In October 1917, the Austrians, having received German reinforcements, broke the Italian lines at Caporetto , but the Italians (helped by their allies) stopped their advance on the river Piave , not far from Venice. After another year of trench warfare , and a successful Italian offensive in autumn 1918, the exhausted Austro-Hungarian Empire surrendered to the allies on November 4 , 1918 , soon followed by the German Empire.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia