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Robert Elsie

Albanian Literature | Early Authors

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Zef SEREMBE

 

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Song of longing

You are angry with me and I know not why,
Oh, fairest apple of paradise lost,
What have I done in my misery that you leave me thus,
How long shall I be deprived of all my joy?

Oh, how bitter were the days
When I saw joy vanish from your eyes
Which had filled this soul with such pride
And struck my breast with passion.

No longer did I see your forehead
At the window, embroidered with sunbeams,
Nor your fair lips, radiant heavens
Now thickly veiled in cloud.

Near your breast, my heart seethes with fire
And my mind with worry,
No respite do I encounter, no peace do I find,
Maid, you have ruined my life forever.

[Kënthimë tharosi, from the volume Vjersha, Milan 1926, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, first published in English in History of Albanian literature, New York 1995, vol. 1, p. 178]

 

Friendship

Across the wide sea the swallow did wend
And feathered its nest in much warmer lands,
It wandered in longing, but did not forget,
When the moment arrived, to go back to its home.

Beating its wings in the strong wind it soared
On the journey returning to its former joy,
But a fierce storm arose on the way and did slay it,
Thus in its yearning the swallow passed on.

Such is the destiny of sacred friendship,
Two loving hearts, be they far from each other,
Strive to unite, though divided by fate.

Evil oblivion for them has no power,
And if death should sever the thread of their lives,
A sole thought in tears will bow over the tomb.

[Mikjëria, from the volume Vjershe, Milan 1926. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]