Non potho reposare – I cannot rest

We’ve packed away the Christmas trees, boxed the Nativity scenes, taken down the lights, the poinsettias are fading – what is left is what for a while was hidden by the gold and silver decorations, the lights and sugary treats of the festivities: what is left is reality, which returns as clear and implacable as ever.

The cold wind of winter harshly highlights every stone, every metal surface, every distance. Standing at a misty window, holding a cup of hot herb tea, we are easy prey to a touch of sadness, surprised by the almost imperceptible rustle of some absence hidden away in a dark corner of the house. To avoid falling into gloominess and savour instead the caress of sweet, dreamy melancholy, today we propose to you a lyric that is deeply imprinted in the culture and soul of our island: Non potho reposare (I cannot rest).

In 1920, Giuseppe Rachel set to music the words of a poem which Saruli lawyer Badore Sini had written in 1915. The poem was entitled A Diosa, and the same title was given to Rachel’s composition, which was to become part of the repertory of the philharmonic choir of Nuoro of which Rachel himself was director. This piece soon became very popular, and by the 1960s it had become part of the repertoire of every choir in Sardinia. By then, it had become known not so much with its original title but as Non potho reposare, the opening words of the lyrics. Later, singers such as Maria Carta and Andrea Parodi took the song out of the sphere of choir music and brought it to a wider public.

What can we say about it? First and foremost, we suggest you listen to it. You will find a host of versions online. Here we can only point out two things. The first is that this song conveys perfectly a universal human feeling, something we have all experienced at some time in our lives: the sleepless, love-struck heart. The second is that in Non potho reposare there lies such agonising sweetness, such a real melancholy, such a sad joy, that all these feelings taken together draw your heart from its hiding place in your breast and open it up to unmeasurable immensity. This is a state of mind not unusual on an island like Sardinia. To some extent it reminds us of another song, D'ä mæ riva by Fabrizio De Andrè, in which this singer-songwriter thinks of his hometown of Genoa while in Sardinia and at one point, referring to his native city, says: “ti me perdunié u magún / ma te pensu cuntru su”, that is “forgive me for my sadness / but I’m thinking of you against the sun”.


Non potho reposare amore ‘e coro
Pensende a tie so donzi momentu
No istes in tristura, prenda ‘e oro
Ne in dispiachere o pensamentu
T’assicuro ch’ a tie solu bramo
Ca t’amo forte t’amo, t’amo, t’amo
Si m’essere possibile d’anghelu
S’ispiritu invisibile piccabo
Sas formas e furabo dae chelu
Su sole e sos isteddos e formabo
Unu mundu bellissimu pro tene
Pro poder dispensare cada bene
Unu mundu bellissimu pro tene
Pro poder dispensare cada bene
No potho viver no chena amargura
Luntanu dae tene amadu coro
A nudda balet sa bella natura
Si no est accurtzu su meu tesoro
E pro mi dare consolu e recreu
Coro, diosa amada prus ‘e Deus
T’assicuro ch’a tie solu bramo
Ca t’amo forte t’amo, t’amo, t’amo
T’assicuro ch’a tie solu bramo
Ca t’amo forte t’amo, t’amo, t’amo

I cannot rest, love of my heart,
I am thinking each moment of you.
Don’t be sad, golden gem,
Feel no pain or strife:
I assure you I want only you
Because I love you fiercely, I love you, I love you.
If it were possible, I would take
The invisible spirit of the angel
And I would steal from the sky the sun and the stars
And I would create a beautiful world just for you
In which to gift you all things good.
I cannot but live with a little bitterness
Far from you, beloved heart.
The beauty of nature has no meaning
If you are not here with me, my treasure,
Who soothe me and bring me happiness,
Heart beloved more than God.
I assure you I want only you
Because I love you fiercely, I love you, I love you.
I assure you I want only you
Because I love you fiercely, I love you, I love you.

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