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Robert Elsie

Albanian Literature | Early Authors

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The Mirahor Mosque in Korça, 1496. (Photo: Robert Elsie).

The Mirahor Mosque in Korça, 1496. (Photo: Robert Elsie.

The Mirahor Mosque in Korça, 1496. (Photo: Robert Elsie).

 

Webdesign J. Groß

Hasan Zyko KAMBERI

 

Money

The sultan who rules the world,
The founder of the mint,
The place where silver's coined,
He knows what money's worth.

The vizier, who's his aide,
Who acts as if he's just,
He lets no gossip spread,
He knows what money's worth.

Sheyhulislami issues fatwas,
He knows what's canon law,
Yet a bribe he'll not refuse,
He knows what money's worth.

The mufti and the teacher,
Both scholars and imams,
Are in the devil's pact,
They know what money's worth.

The judge, too, in his courtroom,
Reclining on his rug,
The dervish in his tekke,
They know what money's worth.

The pashas and the beys
And all the milling crowds
For riches lose their heads,
They know what money's worth.

Show money to a judge,
He'll interpret laws anew,
For a cent he'd sell his father,
He knows what money's worth.

For money they'll get drunk
And put the world to shame,
E'en the farmer sowing beans,
He knows what money's worth.

There is no creature living
Exempt from this desire,
All guildsmen and all merchants,
They know what money's worth.

The infant in his cradle,
His hand out, crying "gimme!"
Will cram cash in his pocket,
He knows what money's worth.

The jackdaw perched in silence,
Throw a penny on the ground,
'twill seize it, take it nestward,
It knows what money's worth.

Money in this world
Will consume both young and old,
In hellfire it will burn them,
They know what money's worth...

[Excerpt from Paraja, late 18th century. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Trahana

All comrades, men and women,
Good people on this planet,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana. *

What a blessing to the famished,
Mixing milk with flour and yoghurt.
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

He was, 'tis true, a wise man,
Was indeed no infant spirit,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

For eight months it is eaten,
Keeps alive the poorest people,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

In the morning when they waken,
Young and old for it do clamour,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana,

All the serfs and wretched bondsmen,
With their herds toiling and farming,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

In the huts where it is lacking,
Do the children mewl, oh mercy,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

No other food can match it,
Like wine it soothes the stomach,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

With milk is it enfolded
And with butter pan-browned, scalded,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

Into your bowl you put it
And with bread, black pepper taste it,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

Trahana is an honour
And a treat when boiled and steamy,
Praise and glory to him
Who invented trahana.

[Trahani, late 18th century. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

* Alb. trahaná, def. trahanája: a southern Albanian porridge made of milk, yoghurt and sourdough