Lyrics by Marco Luberti; Music by Riccardo Cocciante

Io non posso stare fermo con le mani nelle mani,
tante cose devo fare prima che venga domani.
E se lei già sta dormendo io non posso riposare;
farò in modo che al risveglio non mi possa più scordare.

Perché questa lunga notte non sia nera più del nero,
fatti grande dolce luna e riempi il cielo intero.
E perché quel suo sorriso possa ritornare ancora,
splendi sole domattina come non hai fatto ancora.

E per poi farle cantare le canzoni che ha imparato
io le costruirò un silenzio che nessuno ha mai sentito.
Sveglierò tutti gli amanti, parlerò per ore ed ore,
abbracciamoci più forte, perché lei vuole l’amore.

Poi corriamo per le strade e mettiamoci a ballare
perché lei vuole la gioia, perché lei odia il rancore.
E poi coi secchi di vernice coloriamo tutti i muri,
case, vicoli e palazzi, perché lei ama i colori.

Raccogliamo tutti i fiori che può darci Primavera,
costruiamole una culla, per amarci quando è sera.
Poi saliamo su nel cielo, e prendiamole una stella,
perché Margherita è buona, perché Margherita è bella.

Perché Margherita è dolce, perché Margherita è vera,
perché Margherita ama, e lo fa una notte intera.
Perché Margherita è un sogno, perché Margherita è il sale
perché Margherita è il vento e non sa che può far male.

Perché Margherita è tutto, ed è lei la mia pazzia.
Margherita, Margherita,
Margherita, adesso è mia.
Margherita è mia.


Translated by: Ernesto Virgulti

I can’t sit here calmly without moving a finger,
So many things I must do before tomorrow comes.
And if she’s already sleeping, I just cannot rest;
I’ll make sure that upon awakening she won’t forget me anymore.

So that this long night may not be blacker than black,
grow bigger, oh sweet Moon, and fill the entire sky.
And so that her bright smile may come back once again,
shine, oh Sun, tomorrow morning, as you’ve never done before.

And so she can then sing the songs that she has learned,
I will build for her a silence that no one has ever heard.
I’ll wake up all the lovers, and I’ll talk for hours and hours,
let’s embrace even tighter because she wants love.

Then we’ll run through the streets, and we’ll start to dance
because she wants joy, because she hates bitterness.
And then with buckets full of paint, we’ll colour all the walls,
houses, laneways and palaces because she loves colors.

We will gather all the flowers that Spring can give us,
we’ll build her a cradle so we can love one another when evening falls.
Then we’ll climb up to the sky, and catch a star for her
because Margherita is good, because Margherita is beautiful.

Because Margherita is sweet, because Margherita is real,
because Margherita loves, and she does so all night long.
Because Margherita is a dream, because Margherita is the earth’s salt,
because Margherita is the wind and doesn’t know she can cause pain.

Because Margherita is everything, and she is my folly.
Margherita, Margherita,
Margherita, is now mine.
Margherita is mine.

“Margherita”: An Allegory of Love.
By Ernesto Virgulti (Brock University)

“Margherita” is perhaps Cocciante’s biggest hit, not just in Italy but also in France, Spain, Latin America and even Holland.  Contributing to the song’s vast and enduring success, even fifty years later, are of course Cocciante’s captivating melody and his inimitable expressive phrasing and use of crescendo (his compositional and vocal trademark).  However, this much loved song was almost cut from the album Concerto per Margherita (1976), and faced being scrapped altogether.  Even the LP’s arranger and engineer, Vangelis (of “Chariots of Fire” fame), had serious reservations.  We must remember that during the mid 1970s, Italy was facing its darkest political period since Fascism.  Dubbed “gli anni di piombo” [the years of lead], the era witnessed terrorism in full force, with mass bombings and culminating with the kidnapping and murder of the Christian Democrat leader and previous Prime Minister Aldo Moro and his five bodyguards (1978).  Quite understandably, Cocciante and his collaborators assumed that a melodic, romantic song like “Margherita” did not suit the era, which was dominated by the “strategy of tension” and violence and, in music, by political protest songs.  Fortunately, the head of RCA Italia, Ennio Melis, thought otherwise.  The legendary Melis, who launched the careers of most Italian singer-songwriters, even convinced Cocciante to title the album Concerto per Margherita.

Aside from the political climate, there were also issues in the writing process.  Despite their best efforts, Cocciante and lyricist Marco Luberti had hit a road block.  After working tirelessly on the song all day and night, and unable to find the appropriate lyrics, Cocciante and Luberti parted.  But at 4:00 a.m., Luberti had a moment of inspiration.  It seems that he decided to use his ‘writer’s block’ to his advantage, and the rest of the lyrics just flowed.  Indeed, the first verses are quite self-referential, focussing on the writer’s frustration and anxiety (“io non posso stare fermo … tante cose devo fare prima che venga domani … non posso riposare”).  Working sleeplessly into the night, the songwriter fears that the already “lunga notte” will become “nera più del nero” and plummet him into deeper despair.  He therefore invokes the “dolce luna” to brighten the entire sky, break the silence of the dark night, and enlighten him to complete his song before the Sun and Margherita rise in the morning.  Margherita’s association with the sun taps into a familiar romantic trope.  The Sun-Moon metaphor, used to depict lovers, resembles a page taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo is the moon and “Juliet is the sun” (II, ii).  The singer hopes that his song (and the sun) will not only bring back Margherita’s lovely smile, but will also wake up all the lovers.  However, in addition to the song’s self-referentiality, there are other interesting aspects, both musical and lyrical.

Although the beginning of “Margherita” is rather bleak (the long, dark night), it quickly becomes joyous, with bright, colourful, idyllic images.  The verse in which the lovers are running and dancing blissfully through the streets and painting vividly city walls and palaces (perhaps a bit exuberant), is quite reminiscent of the late 1960s Flower Child – Free Love movement.  In the next verse, in fact, they are gathering flowers to build a cradle-bed so that they can make love when evening falls.  The flower imagery (aside from the ’60s reference) is, of course, very appropriate because Margherita is the Italian word for the Daisy flower (Marguerite when Cocciante sings in French; Margarita when he sings in Spanish).  In many cultures and mythologies, the white petals of the daisy symbolise new beginnings, innocence and purity.  But the daisy also represents true love in that it has two separate but integrated parts: the petals and the floret at the centre.  Moreover, the term daisy derives from the Old English, day’s eye, because–like an eye ̶-it closes at night and opens in the morning when the sun rises.  Thus, it is no coincidence that Margherita is sleeping soundly at night and that the songwriter beckons the sun to shine as it has never done before so that her bright smile may return once again:

E perché quel suo sorriso possa ritornare ancora,
splendi sole domattina come non hai fatto ancora.

[And so that her bright smile may come back once again,
shine, oh Sun, tomorrow morning, as you’ve never done before.]

So is Margherita an ode to the flower, to a perfect lover or to a goddess?  The act of offering an abundance of flowers in the Spring (“tutti i fiori che può darci Primavera”) to this perfect creature, as well as a star in the heavens (“Poi saliamo su nel cielo, e prendiamole una stella”) would suggest some type of mythical goddess similar to Botticelli’s famous painting Primavera (c. 1480).  The choice of the season is, of course, very appropriate, for Spring is a time when not just flowers blossom, but love is in the air.  If she possesses goddess-like qualities, is Margherita purely a product of the singer’s imagination, perhaps created during a dream-like state while contemplating the moon at 4:00 a.m.?  When asked who this exceptional mysterious woman really is, Cocciante replied quite vaguely:

“le mie canzoni sono allegoriche … Io mi considero un impressionista.”[1]
[My songs are allegories … I consider myself an impressionist.]

Cocciante’s expressive phrasing convinces us, one moment, that the perfect Margherita is everything (“buona, bella, dolce”) and that the ideal is, in fact, real (“Margherita è vera”).  At the same time, however, he proclaims: “Margherita è un sogno”, perhaps a dream that one has at 4:00 a.m.?  Is she too perfect to be real?  Does she only exist in the writer’s oneiric dimension?  The line in which the singer tells us that Margherita makes love all night long (“Margherita ama, e lo fa una notte intera”) is also layered with ambiguity because it is strategically placed between the line declaring that she is real and the line stating that she is also a dream.  This obviously raises the question: is making passionate love with Margherita, in a bed of flowers, real or merely a projection of his sexual fantasy?  To be sure, Margherita’s attributes flow back and forth between reality and illusion.  Rather noteworthy is the verse comparing Margherita to the wind:

Margherita è il vento e non sa che può far male.
[Margherita is the wind and doesn’t know she can cause pain]

Representing both a vital element and a destructive force, the wind’s transitory nature is an appropriate metaphor for the instability of love.  While clearly obsessed with Margherita, the singer is also aware that she can unwittingly break his heart.  Like the wind, love can be fleeting, and passion can turn to pain.  So is it foolhardy to love someone so madly, knowing that you may risk heartbreak?  I use the terms ‘foolhardy’ and ‘madly’ intentionally, since in the last verse Cocciante sings that “Margherita è tutto, ed è lei la mia pazzia“.  His folly or lunacy (his irrational attraction) could potentially end up being also his demise.  Interestingly, the term ‘lunatic’, derived from the Latin lunaticus, originally referred to a mentally ill person ‘struck by the moon’.  The latter part of the definition, ‘moonstruck’, subsequently became more associated with people in a romantic daze.  Naturally, this is also the title of the famous movie Moonstruck (starring Cher and directed by Norman Jewison).  The moon, clearly, brings us back to the beginning of the song and to Margherita’s moonstruck minstrel.

While the lyrics of “Margherita” are fascinatingly rich with images, metaphors and references, what truly sells the song is Cocciante’s distinctive writing and vocal style.  The beautiful, passionate melody (without a chorus!) and the double crescendo in both the music and in Cocciante’s heartfelt vocals are so evocative, moving and powerful that the listener cannot help but feel and live the singer’s fantasy.  Unlike “Bella senz’anima” and “Quando finisce un amore”, which foreground heartbreak, anger and anguish, “Margherita” is a joyous, impassioned love song of loving praise for an ideal woman.  Yet, lurking in the shadows of the lyrics is the awareness that love is also fragile and delicate, like a beautiful flower.  And if the wind is not favourable, blissful pleasure can plunge into despair: “perché Margherita è il vento e non sa che può far male”.  Such is the folly (“pazzia”) of love!