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Robert Elsie

Albanian Literature | Modern

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Linditë AHMETI, 2008

Linditë AHMETI, 2008

Webdesign J. Groß

Linditë AHMETI

 

A Raspberry Bush has Blossomed

The dust has sifted thickly
On the windowsills,
Three branches of the old chestnut have broken off,
It looks like the birds are about to die,
But in the ruins,
Amidst the stones,
A raspberry bush
Has borne fruit,
Right in front of me, languishing here,
Leaving its trace on my tongue,
Waiting for that blond boy who will never return,
The raspberries abound this year,
Rich nests for the birds.

[Ka çelur një mjedër, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 61. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Memoirs

Before the small houses in Gazi Baba
The old men gather in the alley,
How white
In the muddy square.
There they disperse their memoirs
O’er the asphalt,
Never red, never black,
And marching, surging,
The Turks,
The first Serb,
The first Bulgarian,
The second Serb,
The second Bulgarian,
Greeks, Greeks, Greeks,
Byzantium, Asia,
And Europe locked
In Scanderbeg’s grave,
All the while, the old men squat
Before the small houses in Gazi Baba.

[Memoare, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 80. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Carpe Diem, Youth

Carpe diem, carpe diem,
How, but how?
Words in a row,
Sunshine in the shutters,
Carpe diem, carpe diem,
How, but how?
A forbidden springtime,
Daylight on the padlock,
Carpe diem, seize the day,
I don’t know the way,
My generation
In a quartet ash-grey.

[Carpe diem, rini, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 27. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Letter to my Brother

Nothing new going on here, brother,
Everything is just as it was,
The new trees are infected by a fungus,
As always
The flaking whitewash falling off the wall,
As you know,
Joseph’s mother has come back.
The same things are happening
In the bramble bushes.
I alone have changed,
I alone strain to hear your voice,
For example,
When you’ll return.

[Letër vëllait, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 31. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Who Will Bring Word to Me

At the balcony, the door open,
I am waiting,
A year, a century,
God, a grey year,
A terrible year,
A deaf year,
I am waiting,
Centuries spent waiting,
The year makes no move,
Wedged between the hands of the clock,
An ominous hour,
And I keep watch,
Nowhere the racing pigeons,
The postmen felled by smallpox,
I look through the gaping door,
A coat of dust on the grass,
Silt in the trees,
Who will bring word to me?

[Kush do të ma sjellë fjalën, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 32. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Where are My Keys

I’ve lost my keys,
Where are my keys,
Have you seen my keys,
I just had them,
They were here,
I just saw them,
What if someone’s taken them,
Was there anyone around?
Let me have a look up there,
Not there,
Perhaps in the door,
Not there either,
Where can they be?
How can I have lost my keys?
How can they have slipped from my fingers?
Mother, can you see my keys,
Shall I keep yours?
O God, I am keyless,
How can I open the door?
Mother, my keys are gone,
Don’t shout,
Look up in the library,
Look on the works of Kadare,
On his Fortress,
They are always there,
- and there they are -
Thank you, mother.

[Ku më mbetën çelësat? from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 34. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

The Whiteness of Solitude

Cross-legged you sit,
Your brow rests in your drooping hand,
An act of solitude,
The white thread of thought
Is spun
Thin,
Ever so spare,
And then,
From the palm of the Blessed Virgin,
The hues of her sash
Poured over your head,
Your sorrow takes flight,
And for a moment you are shrouded in bright grace,
White,
Whiteness.

[Bardhësia e vetmimit, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 139. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

Sleep

The fountain is flowing in the morning,
Sparkling crystal,
Reflecting on the little paths,
The gardens,
The surrounding houses.
Morning fountain,
The neighbours have roused,
They are washing their faces,
Scouring away their nightmares,
Yesterday’s sweat,
My brothers are still sleeping.

[Gjumë, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 35. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

The Day Our Dreams Vanished

It was the first time that,
The first time
That Edith and I,
My girlfriend Edith
And I faltered,
It was the first time,
The first time
That we burst into tears,
It was the first time,
The first time
That our mothers looked grave,
That our friends could not skip over to play,
That our fathers took on a chilly air,
That we had to store our toys in the chest,
That we felt grief for the boys being called up,
How far we’ve come,
How far,
A long seventeen years.

[Dita kur na u tret ëndrra, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 26. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

 

How Morning Flashes Me a Smile

I am alone in my room
With the window and its worn-out frame,
A cup, a grey table,
Some sallow sheets of paper,
A pen, the ink on its tip parched,
Before me is a blackboard,
Outside shudder heavy footsteps,
Outside wafts the smell of ashes,
Along the wall someone tramples on a broom,
In the depths of night – down there – the Trial goes on,
They are condemning Hope, sentencing Song,
They say – bring hope here quickly,
They say – it’s over, your song’s finished,
They say – may your voice wither,
And all the time – above us – the glow of the silvery moon,
And all the time, the patient sun crouches behind the hill,
And all the time, close by, a rooster crows at dawn,
Our hope replete with robins chirping,
Through the window my greetings echo to the children,
Through the cracks in the blackboard, morning flashes me a smile,
On my own, I’m not alone.

[Ç’më buzëqesh mëngjesi, from the volume Lulja alba (Tirana: Toena 2008), p. 13. translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]