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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Natasha LAKO, 1991 (Photo: Robert Elsie).

Natasha LAKO, 1991
(Photo: Robert Elsie).

Webdesign J. Groß

Natasha LAKO

 

A woman’s monologue

Which eyes am I to use to see you, love,
Which eyes?

They were difficult years,
The veil extended right to our feet
And hindered our every movement.

We had much to throw off,
We had much to pick up.
Suddenly out of the darkness
A new day dawned.

It was the dawn we chose therefore,
The time of day which disperses all things.
With its light
We created new eyes.

[Monolog i një gruaje, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 50, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 152]

 

The leaves fall every autumn

The leaves fall every autumn,
In autumn every day, every hour...
And with the fall of leaves in the courtyard
The wind begins to count the minutes of the year.

Grandmother sweeps the leaves,
She sweeps and sweeps...
She senses every year that grandfather is back
To shake the trees
And sit out in the wind.

The leaves begin to lose their colour,
The leaves grow mute,
As grandmother sweeps and sweeps...

[Gjethet bien çdo vjeshtë, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 90, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 153]

 

Insomnia

A clear night has fallen with its soft, supple body
Upon the great city.
The lofty trees converse with the moon
And flowers bend and doze.

The streets descend into an asphalt slumber
And dream of tomorrow's footsteps,
From the lampposts incandescent light shines down
Upon the fallen leaves and traces of passers-by.

But the calm is not real,
I know people are not dormant -
Young mothers are raising children in their wombs,
Even in their deepest sleep.

[Pagjumësi, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 49, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 154]

 

At night, after threshing

Somewhere,
The rolled copper wire
(inside it is the colour of roasted grain)
Is carrying the signals of your voice.

The light of day descends behind the horizon
(it is the hour when children curl up and go to sleep).

Your call from the forests
Came down to me on the plains like a rustling...

(Somewhere,
A receiver suddenly looks
Like a bird pecking at clear signals of joy,
Like grains of wheat.)

This evening, great expanses reunite us
Much better than any means of communication...

[Pas shirjes, natën, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 70, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 155]

 

Albania

Albania, red flower -
Half budding, half open.

Albania, storm bird -
With a nightingale's voice and an eagle's wings.

Albania, song for a hero -
Both a war cry and a lullaby.

[Shqipëria, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 33, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 156]

 

I shall write a poem about the doorstep

I shall write a poem about the doorstep -
Smooth, simple,
Exposed to the winds and the rain
And still untouched.

Nothing can cover up the doorstep,
Everything remains light,
And when an Albanian places his foot on it
It is like a dance.

Legends and weddings have crossed it,
Poems and festive songs,
But never has an enemy
Poised his foot on these two handbreadths of life...

[Kam për të shkruar një vjershë për pragun, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 5, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 157]

 

The grave of Paul Eluard

In the sky an endless swarm of birds
                   in flight.
Down below,
Like a bird made of earth
                   his grave.

All around are imposing monuments
                   to politicians,
                   to statesmen.

The flowers
Are the only monument
                   to the poet.

[Varri i Pol Eluarit, from the volume E para fjala e botës, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1979, p. 23, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 158]

 

Oh, what new verdure

Oh, what new verdure,
Perhaps a day old, perhaps an hour,
                   perhaps a minute.
If it were a baby, it might cry
When exposed to the wind.

But it rustles, it murmurs
                   unassumingly
Breast-fed
From the depths of the earth.

Oh, what new verdure,
Perhaps a day old, perhaps an hour,
                   perhaps a minute.

Billions of years, billions of centuries
                   have penetrated this foliage...

[O sa gjelbërim i ri, from the volume Yllësia e fjalëve, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1986, p. 68, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in An elusive eagle soars, anthology of modern Albanian poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 159]