Robert Elsie | NEWS | AL Art | AL History | AL Language | AL Literature | AL Photography | Contact |

 

Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

BACK

Mihal HANXHARI

Mihal HANXHARI

Webdesign J. Groß

Mihal HANXHARI

 

An Ancient Broken Bridge

That bridge
Like two lovers longing to be close,
One on one bank, the other opposite,
Who cannot unite.

That bridge
Like an embrace ne'er to be,
One on one bank, the other opposite,
Clasp and kiss turned to stone.

That bridge
Like two lovers in love forever
One on one bank, the other opposite,
We are that bridge, you and I.

[Një urë antike e këputur, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 15. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Night of Stillness

Night of stillness,
A faint rustling of stars
Can be heard
As they blaze in the heavens.
Under the broken bridge
The sluggish river bears away
An unravelled wreath
Cast by the moon onto the water
For the soul of the wounded bridge.

[Natë heshtje, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 16. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

A Severed Prayer

The broken bridge,
Two fractured limbs
Hover over the river,
Two arms outstretched,
Silent and numb,
Which cannot
Link hands
For a long prayer
Severed in the middle.

[Lutja e këputur, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 17. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

If One Day

If one day on the riverbank
You should see a broken bridge,
Stop for a moment,
Fall to your knees
And pray.

[Nëse një ditë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 18. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Petals

A spring night
And rain outside
Bathes the plum blossoms in the garden,
Drenches the lemon blossoms on the balcony,
Soaks the solemn, empty streets,
And, in a corner of my soul,
So many petals settle on the water.

[Petale, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 20. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Leaves

I know, I know,
It is not springtime
That will remember the leaves,
It is the leaves that will remember
The springtime
Some day.

[Gjethe, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 21. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Relics

Among these relics
Are fractured bodies of marble
Lying in the grass,
Spring now clasps you to its bosom,
Oh ancient love.

[Relike, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 24. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Linden Trees

In the wee hours, the fragrance of the linden trees,
Sweet venom, enraptures me.
The streets are empty, lights in windows wink out,
The stars appear to have breathed that aroma,
They, too, are drunk with delight.
All are fast asleep,
And night, a great owl spreading its wings,
Abandons the gloomy rafters of a rooftop,
And, gliding soundless,
Alights on a nearby wall.
The two of us watch in silence.

[Bliret, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Dusk

That marble statue,
Wrenched armless from the earth,
Two thousand years on its breast,
Twenty centuries buried did it smile,
Oh, you who carved it!
How often we sat together on your doorstep,
As you abandoned your work in the dusk
And the statue, wrapped in veils,
Lay there sleeping.
The two of us under the vines of your porch
Would perceive the approach of nightfall
And we'd listen to the sea in the dark.

[Muzg, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 29. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Without Speaking a Word

The sun is scalding,
The Erzen, drying up, flows gently,
The leaves of the dusty plane trees are still,
The cicadas chatter with each other,
And two soldiers eat watermelon in the shade
Without saying a word.
I watch the world.
Oh Lord, when I shall no longer be,
The sun once again will be scalding,
The Erzen, drying up, will flow gently,
The leaves of the dusty plane trees will be still,
The cicadas will chatter with each other,
And perhaps two soldiers will eat
Watermelon in the shade
Without saying a word.

[Pa folur, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 31. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Earth

The wind whisked away the clouds,
The deluge stopped, the sun has peeked out,
The last raindrops plop from the leaves,
And the earth, parched and dying of thirst,
Slurps and drinks its fill.

[Toka, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 32. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Storm

With the storm past, clouds gone, night calmed,
The scattered stars have reappeared,
And in the old plane tree,
Amidst its leafless branches,
The Big Dipper, flung by the wind,
Is stuck like a child's balloon.

[Stuhiu, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 33. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

This Branch

What can this autumn branch have in store for me,
More than the beginning of stillness.
The river no longer sees,
Summer's eyes are closed,
Summer's lids are drowned,
Why did they not latch onto stones,
Where will I find the words I left on the riverbank?
An island, not there before, stares at me from the water,
A bit of love extends its hand from the brink,
Oh autumn,
You have thrown your arms around my neck,
And I swallow a tear in silence.

[Kjo degë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 34. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Cypress Trees

Oh moon,
Distant sister, dead sister,
They are felling, are scything
The cypress trees.

[Qiparisat, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 36. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

While on its Way

I thought of you while spring was on its way,
In every raindrop none but you I pondered,
In every budding leaf you came to mind,
I thought of you in every petal blooming,
I thought of you in every petal falling,

I thought of you upon those azure evenings
When air grew damp in undetected flowers,
When from behind the walls of old-time gardens
The numbing fragrance spread of ancient loves,
I thought of you on sleepless nights, eyes open,
When hands of trees poured stars into my window,
And wide awake, I thought of you 'til morning,
Oh night so long, you knew what I was thinking,

I thought of you while spring was on its way,
As clouds themselves on mountain crests do wonder,
As lilies open slowly in the nighttime.
My soul has now become a flow'ring lily,
And spring has entered it and found you there.

[Gjersa erdhi, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 40. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Voiceless

Like a tattoo on a shoulder,
Like a scar from coals on flesh,

Like a statue's fractured forearm,
Like cold marble's faults and cracks,

Like marks which never vanish,
Like mute pain we are to one another.

[Pa zë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 41. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

To Sleep

How can you doze
And not be aware
Of the gentle fragrance that wills you to sleep,
Like white petals floating
Down a river.

[Në gjumë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 42. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Without You

I long to be the liquid that your lips drink,
- you are the fragrance of every flower I love,
I long to be the slumber on your brow when you sleep,
- you draw near me in my dreams like a shadow at night,
Why such sorrow in your eyes?
- how can I die alone without you?

[Pa ty, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 43. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Dream

I stood there as if I were a sleeping tree,
Felt the foliage budding on my body,
Felt the flowers shrouding me entirely,
Sensed that I had no eyes
Though I could see, yes
Could finally see
My dream.

[Ëndrra, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 45. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

For Whom

One day we will recall
That we lost them in the winds of each season,
Into the summer of every river we poured our souls
And sent them off down the water
Like gifts of love,
And one day we will ask:
For whom, for whom,
Oh heart?

[Për kë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 46. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Farewell

Oh, how many bitter skies
Have I imbibed at night
And left behind for each of them
A farewell in the trees.

[Lamtumirë, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 176. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

An Ink Stain

Exquisite was this deceptive life
And exquisite the lies.
Why do you weep?
Come over to me,
The doves are sleeping in the frail eaves,
In our childhood books
There will be ink stains from our fingers,
This trickster life will be an ink stain
From our fingers,
Let us read our first books,
Let us tarry beside the old curtains
And listen to the bells
That no longer toll.

[Një njollë boje, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 177. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Perhaps it is Better So

I can fill the abyss of distance
With thousands more hearts than milestones on the roads,

I can wear out my dreams in sleep
By going far beyond desperation,

I must now set free the doves within my breast,
Perhaps it is better, better so.

[Ndoshta më mirë kështu, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 178. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Smell of Branches

The smell of branches lingers on my lips,
That bitter tree remains within my mouth,
I feel in my hands the hot coals of nails,
I see in the heavens the skeletons of forests,
And the snow in the mountains
Covers me in its silence.

[Shije dege, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 179. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Rapture

We did not drink that night,
But we bought so many carnations,
We flung them on our bed
And on the blossoms our immaculate bodies.

We did not forget that June night,
Oh, the memory of it rends my heart like a knife.

[Dehje, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 186. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Unquenchable Fire

Fall has come, the fog has fallen,
I walk the streets with an unseen pyre,
On my lips remain your kisses,
I pace the lanes with an unquenchable fire.

[Zjarr që s'shuhet, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 187. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Lemon Blossoms

You once struck me with lemon blossoms,
And the moon bewitched me with their fragrance.

You once gave me your blood as a flower
And I wept over you.

You once left me alone, eyes closed,
And, blind now, I find you no more.

[Lule limoni, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 190. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

When You are Sleeping

At night,
When you are sleeping,
The little paper boats of my childhood
Float me to your feet
And there I find my peace.

At night
When you are sleeping,
All the nests in the forests
Soothe the remote moon with their old melodies.

At night
When you are sleeping,
All the nightingales dream of new songs to sing.

[Kur ti fle, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 194. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Where Is

When the window was like a sun
And in that shady room, summer came in from the garden,
And you lounging, your blouse undone,
With nipples, terracotta-coloured,
And the clock counted the passing of our lives,
Where is that afternoon
That has lingered in my memory, lounging
Like an Etruscan terracotta?

[Ku është, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 195. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

I Love You

I love you like the stars who know nothing of me,
I love you like the sea which in the summer
Watches me as if
It had never seen me before.

[Të dua, from the volume Gdhend një statujë, Tirana: Toena, 2005, p. 196. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]