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Robert Elsie

Albanian Literature | Classical

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Sejfullah MALËSHOVA, 1945

Sejfullah MALËSHOVA, 1945

 

Sejfullah MALËSHOVA, 1945

 

Webdesign J. Groß

Sejfullah MALËSHOVA

 

How I Love Albania

I've no farm estates or manors,
I've no shops or lofty buildings,
Yet I love my land, Albania -
For a barn in Trebeshina,
For its boulders and its brushwood,
For a hut above Selishta,
For two fields ploughed in Zallishta,
For a cow and for a donkey,
For an ox, a little lambkin,
             This is how I love my country
             Like a shepherd, like a peasant.

Yes, I love my land, Albania,
For the clover in its meadows,
For a quick and agile maiden,
For its spring of water gurgling
From the cliffs and flowing swiftly
Through the leafy oak tree forests,
Tumbling down to form a river,
Yes, I love my land, Albania,
For the fenugreek in blossom,
For the birds that fly above it,
For the nightingales a-singing,
In the shade and in the brambles,
Trilling songs of love and longing,
             This is how I love my country,
             Like a poet in devotion.

Yes, I love my land, Albania,
Right from Korça to Vranina,
Where the farmer sets off early
With his hoe and plough a-toiling,
Sows and reaps by sun and moonlight,
Yet, he has no food to live on,
Where the farrier and saddler
Day and night stoop o'er their duties
Just to get a few stale breadcrumbs,
Where the porter at the dockyards,
Laden down with iron and barrels,
Bears his load, barefoot and ragged,
Always serving other people.
Yes, I love my land, Albania,
Right from Skopje to Janina,
Where its people in misfortune
Suffer, live their lives in serfdom,
Yet they have a fighting spirit -
             This is how I love my country,
             Like a revolutionary.

(1939)

[Si e dua Shqipërinë, from the volume Vjersha, Tirana 1945, p. 18-19. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Rebel Poet

Listen to me, men and women,
             Everywhere,
There's an warrant out to snare me
             from Tiranë.
Over hill and over dale and
             in the fields,
Their patrols are right behind me
             step by step.
I fear not their hunting dogs and
             all their guns,
I am off and make my journey
             path by path,
I am off and will find shelter
             house by house,
Everywhere in this, my country,
             I've my lair.
I'm a thug and I'm a rebel
             and I'm proud,
Both the beys and, yes, their thrones I
             will attack.
I have come to do my job,
             protect the poor,
And a war on slavery have I
             now declared.

            * * *

Who have raised their guns against me?
             let me know!
Who's behind me, searching for my
             every trace?
Stop a while and listen to me,
             soldier boy,
Are you not a peasant's son, a
             village lad?
Bide a bit and listen to me,
             brother mine,
Hold your pace and save your bullet
             For those men,
For the ones who rob, oppress our
             piteous home,
For the ones who here exhaust us
             in our plight.
And my poems may, too, resemble
             me, a thug,
For my lines with black gunpowder
             have I filled.
Songs of war and songs of fire
             in my mouth,
And a storehouse full of weapons
             is my chest,
Verse, my verse, fly off in fury
             like a bomb,
Go and furl out like a war cry,
             like a flag,
Let our country's people gather
             everywhere,
Let the tyrant tremble, quiver
             in his hall.
To your feet arise, oh Korça,
             matriarch,
With Devoll and with Kolonja,
             with Opar.
Come forth now, oh Vlora river,
             banner high,
As you'd come to pick your bride up
             in her veil,
To the vanguard like Gjoleka,
             Kurvelesh,
Beat upon them, Chameria,
             like a storm.
Like an earthquake may you bellow,
             Mount Tomorr,
May the waves of Shkumbin river
             seethe and boil.
Rise up, people, like a lion,
             Cast the yoke,
In Berat and in Tirana,
             Elbasan,
And you, Mat, Luma and Dibra,
             like the wind,
Seize your arms and for your freedom
             take to war,
Moan and groan, oh wretched Shkodra,
             ancient town,
Come along, arise Kosova,
             join the dance,
With Krasniqi, Bajram Curri
             and Tetovë.
Let our country's people gather
             everywhere,
Let the tyrant tremble, quiver
             in his hall.
Verse, my verse, fly off in fury
             like a bomb,
Go and furl out like a war cry,
             like a flag.

(1935)

[Poeti rebel, from the volume Vjersha, Tirana 1945, p. 13-16. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]