La canzone del Piave

Originally named La Leggenda del Piave, this is one of the most famous Italian patriotic songs, written in June 1918 by Ermete Giovanni Gaeta (known under the pseudonym of E.A. Mario), who donated the copyright on the song. It was sung by tenor Giovanni Martinelli in 1918.
The historical events that inspired the song date back to June 1918 when Austria-Hungary decided to launch a major attack on the Piave front, but was forced to stop because of the flood of the river. Soon after the counter-attack of the Italian Army began; between 2 and 6 July 1918, the 3rd Italian Army occupied the area between the old and the new Piave. During the so-called Battle of the Solstice 84,600 Italians and 149,000 Austro-Hungarians were killed.

Composed immediately after the Solstice battle, the song was soon made known among the troops by singer Enrico Demma (Raffaele Gattordo), and helped restore the morale of the Italians, so much so that General Armando Diaz in a telegram to the author wrote "Your legend of the Piave at the front is worth more than a general".

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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!
The Piave murmured calm and placid at the passing
of the first infantry on May the twenty-fourth;
the army was marching to the frontier
to make a barrier against the enemy!
Muti passaron quella notte i fanti,
tacere bisognava e andare avanti.
S'udiva intanto dalle amate sponde
sommesso e lieve il tripudiar de l'onde.
Silently passed that night the infantry,
be silent was needed and go forward.
Meanwhile, could be heard from the belove banks
light and low the exultation of the waves.
Era un presagio dolce e lusinghiero.
il Piave mormorò: "Non passa lo straniero!"
It was a sweet and propitious omen.
The Piave murmured: the foreigner shall not pass!"
Ma in una notte trista si parlò di tradimento
e il Piave udiva l'ira e lo sgomento.
Ah, quanta gente ha visto venir giù, lasciare il tetto,
per l'onta consumata a Caporetto.
But on a sad night they spoke of betrayal
and the Piave felt the anger and dismay.
Ah, how many people the river saw coming, leaving their homes;
for the shame of Caporetto.
Profughi ovunque dai lontani monti,
venivano a gremir tutti i suoi ponti.
S'udiva allor dalle violate sponde
sommesso e triste il mormorio de l'onde.
Refugees everywhere, from the distant mountains,
came to crowd all his bridges.
We heard from the violated banks
low and sad the murmur of the waves.
Come un singhiozzo in quell'autunno nero
il Piave mormorò: Ritorna lo straniero!
As a sign in that black autumn
The Piave whispered: the foreigner returns!"
E ritornò il nemico per l'orgoglio e per la fame
voleva sfogar tutte le sue brame,
vedeva il piano aprico di lassù: voleva ancora
sfamarsi e tripudiare come allora!
And the enemy returned for pride and hunger
they wanted to vent all their greeds,
saw the fertile plains from above: they wanted
again to feed and rejoice, as then!
No disse il Piave, no dissero i fanti,
mai più il nemico faccia un passo avanti!
Si vide il Piave rigonfiar le sponde
e come i fanti combattevan l'onde.
No, said the Piave, no, the soldiers said,
the enemy will never take a step forward!
We saw the Piave raising the banks
the infantry battled like the waves.
Rosso del sangue del nemico altero,
il Piave comandò "Indietro va', o straniero!"
Red with the blood of the haughty enemy,
the Piave ordered: "Go back, foreigner!"
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!
The enemy went back to Trieste, to Trento
and the victory spread her wings to the wind!
Sacred was the ancient pact, in the ranks were seen
Oberdan, Sauro and Battisti rising!
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.
At last the Italian value broke
the gallows and weapons of the Hanger!
Secure the Alps, free the shores,
and the Piave was silent, the waves calmed down.
Sul patrio suolo vinti i torvi Imperi,
la Pace non trovò né oppressi, né stranieri!
On the native soil, defeated the grim Empires
peace found neither oppressed nor foreigners!