Lost in translation

The song, “Blu dipinto di blu” or “Volare,” won Eurovision when I was three years old. I’ve heard it sung by everyone from Dean Martin to the Gipsy Kings. I memorized the Italian lyrics in college, and watched the film “Mr. Volare” dubbed in Spanish just a few years ago. Today, rereading the song for a poetry prompt (dVerse, Blue Tuesday) I discovered for the first time that flying man was the one painted blue. It never seems that way in English, in which most versions say, “I painted the hands and face blue” or “I painted hands and face in the blue.” The Spanish version says “y me pintaba las manos y la cara de azul” using the reflexive verb, as in Italian. “Mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu,” literally means I painted (myself) my hands and face in blue. After all these years singing the song till I’m blue in the face, now my face is beet red!

Flying in blue sky,
always looking upward, I
missed blue-painted hands.

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