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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Mario BELLIZZI, 2000 (Photo: Robert Elsie).

Mario BELLIZZI, 2000
(Photo: Robert Elsie).

Webdesign J. Groß

Mario BELLIZZI

 

The Cypress Trees of Mnemosyne

In the morning, the blithe village plunges into the Ionian Sea,
Taking along the archaeological ruins,
Night with its black wings,
Night which for the first time has birthed a wind egg
(such were the words of wretched Aristophanes)
And the white cypress trees of Mnemosyne.
From the window I cherish, obsessed,
This eccentric dream with sunlight in my eyes.

[Qiparisat e Mnemosynës, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 18. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Crossroads

The sky is transfixed by the stormy autumn winds
And by white crossroads which fade in the distance.
My heart, too, is hypnotized
By the birds' vernal chirping,
Drunk on the gale and infinity.

[Udhëkryqë, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 20. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Geography and Earthquake

With feelings shaken,
Undetectable,
Ne'er more surprised on the village fields,
I depart, never attaining geographies.
In my fist
None but the crumbs of formless centuries.

[Gjeografi e tërmet, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 22. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

A Letter for Çim Arifi, an Albanian in Exile

With what strength you cling
To these common, worthless objects, my Albanian brother.
A large car, a television set...
I, lyrically tranquil, told you the tale of the river of Lethe,
Recited legends on the hillside with imprecise philology.
We awoke from our dreams in November 1990
On the banks of the Ionian Sea facing our Fatherland.
With satisfaction, you noted that in Durrës
They were decking their homes with tin cans and bottles,
That the waves of that Sea had donated.
But let us consider for a moment, my dear Çim,
Ours are two blind and symmetric illusions:
You long for wondrous, new goods
And I wish even that unseen ones might vanish.
At night, both of us in exile,
Beyond Canaan - Fair Morea,
In the geography of loss we found security over the phone.
We told our forefathers that we were well,
But didn't mention that we had changed!
In your eyes I saw that burst of anguish
Of people who have turned up in modern times.
Once again, in my sight
Appear sixteenth-century galleys,
The ships of Andrea Doria,
Sailing from Albania to Italy!
You, Çim, weren't among them. I sought you in vain!
Here we are still on that ancient journey,
Caught in a magnetic maelstrom of peoples.

[Një letër për Çim Arifin, shqiptar i mërguar, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Aroma

I hold in my hands
A bouquet of country flowers,
Red and disrobed,
From which course rivers of light,
Silken blossoms with vernal places.
I carry in my palms my fields,
Red and disrobed.

[Erë e mirë, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 32. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Red Shift

The land of my ancestors taught me the Art of Flight,
The arc of eyes across the sea
And of roots from the mountain ridges,
The land of my fugitive forefathers
Taught me the value of our word of honour and of myths,
The one, an anchor for the soul, the other, a yoke for the body.
Centuries later you changed,
You are but a childless soil, all have departed,
A land of old men, fathers beyond History and Time,
Flight of the Nation now singes my face
With the fiery icons of Onufri,
There is no more Hell to flee from,
No more Heaven to gain.

[Red Shift, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 34. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

My House

My house, a wasteland of objects,
Bereft of sound, smell and light,
Terribly doomed by silence,
By the roots of flight.
A rose would suffice,
Just one, the soul's, a filigree fountain,
Where magic beings scoop water.
I believe that the Origin
Seeks to hide in perfume's wonders.
A wanderer amidst bubbling hallucinations,
At that Source I'll be there,
Dionysius the Elder, insane from tenderness.

[Shtëpia ime, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 42. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Curfew

Here in Prizren
There is a curfew after one in the morning.
Angels
Dare not dally in the cobblestone lanes,
Or wander down to the Lumbardhi river
To cross the old stone bridge,
And lovers cannot go out hand in hand
To marvel at the mosque and the moon,
At the flags fluttering in the breeze.
Yet from the houses,
Ruined by rockets
Burst the sounds of the lahuta, of drums and shawms!
This will be the hypnotic music
Which fastens the people here
Amidst the tanks and barbed wire,
Immersed in the lure of that Pentagram
Which is the Orient.

[Orë policore, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 76. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Serbs, Coca Cola and Kosovars

Mitrovica, Mitro-Vica, Vica-Mitro,
A town divided, bisected.
A neutral zone, that is, a corridor,
Surrounded by barbed wire,
By armed soldiers protected.
In it a drink shop.
One side Serbs, the other Albanians,
And in it Fanta and Coca Cola.
What madness!

[Serbë - Coca Cola & Kosovarë, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 98. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Trance

for my friend, the poet Osman Gashi

The dervishes' power!
In a trance
They can make tanks prance about
In a Prizren ring-around-the-rosy,
Mortars aimed at Kosovar breasts
Can do no harm
If Kosova holds its breath.

[Trance, from the volume Last Exit to Bukura Morea, Castrovillari: Il Coscile, 2003, p. 98. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]