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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Arian LEKA, 2004 (Photo: Robert Elsie).

Arian LEKA, 2004
(Photo: Robert Elsie).

Webdesign J. Groß

Arian LEKA

 

Autumn in Durrës

The September wind
Has thrust its arrows into the trees,
Freezing the blood of the foliage,
And this is a sign
For the fruit that they must die in their sleep.

No one drowns in the sea but the Çamian widows
Who wash their bloomers in autumn's sorrows.

The waters must be fed on sifting sand and the rust of ships
By the one brought to the plains by last year's wind
Like the feathered bed of a beloved corpse
Where no one comes to sleep anymore,
Not even the waves madly chanting in their low roar.

I cover myself in leaves as I painfully bury with bird feathers,
Azure sea lilies and seaweed,
The Çamian widows unwinding their white braids over a well.

[Vjeshta në Durrës, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 8. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Spine of the Sea

My people turned their spines to the sea.

And I have the same inclination,
I sink ships,
Bore holes in their sides
And flee afar
To where clouds seem like fish,
Every grave is a barge with a white sail,
Where every tree grows fruit in its belly,
And the ships...
The ships depart
Because my people turned their spines to the sea
And reaped
But the sweet food of the land
And the drink.

[Shpina e detit, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 9. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Alone

Profound is solitude in two glasses of wine,
A ruddy horse and a white horse.
Nothing is as it seems to be
When you have it all and no one to share it with.

Soon it will rain and the doors will be shut,
Those inside are in, no others will make it,
Two glasses of wine, a black horse in the jug,
I now have it all, but no one to share it with.

[Vetëm, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 12. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

More Than the Moon

You ask for no more than the moon
As you rest your head in the dusk
And enter the window
To me

You come shrouded in white clouds,
Scarves like wings, parted your lips
A little,
Not with words
But with a fragrance that reminds me
Of the lilacs
That morning which our eyes devoured,
Thus I cannot sleep
In this lifeless bower
Where the covers go berserk, are swollen
Without you.

[Më shume se hëna, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 15. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Postcard

I placed my finger on your name
And feel the pain,
Memory has claws,
Makes noise
On the beach where we kissed with our feet
The flowers that did not blossom that winter without you,
The flame that we devoured till our teeth melted.

The rivers are leaving to confess for me in the sea
For it is mass,
It was a Sunday, that day
When I placed my finger on your name.

My finger,
Its nails cut.

[Kartolinë, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 20. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Judaic

You threw your white clothes into the air
For the sky was bereft of its clouds,
For the apples were sour and I was alone
When the signs said: rise,
Move, and you did not understand
That a new season, a new age was dawning,
When something was wriggling in your being
And you had a lust and desire
To betray:
Your eyes,
             your wife,
Yourself,
             your sons,
Your friends
             your life
For another,
Since a day will come with an empty soul
When you are left with a desire
To betray:

Yourself,

Life given as alms.

[Judaike, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 22. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Easter on the Island of Hvar

The sea eats stone eggs
And breaks its teeth on the banks:
Salty islands, poison cactus,
Rosemary and the oils of lamps
That departed to return no more,
Brides kidnapped by the wind,
Maidens bitten by pirates.

My soul walks over these waters
That saw me in an Easter dream.
Six bell towers - halleluiah!
The sea breaks stone eggs - ouch!
I break a milk tooth
On a glass of dry wine.

Six o'clock. Humanity at church.
The sea and me outside.

[Pashka në ishullin Hvar, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 31. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Background Chant

How can you sing over a grave,
Oh cuckoo,
Where the earth thrusts cypress trees
Like knives into its sides and flanks,
Where the sky dies insane
Of an overdose of solitude?

Could you not,
Could you not,
Little bird,
Have revived with your song
One single man?

[Kabá, from the volume Strabizëm, Tetova: Ditët e Naimit, 2004, p. 35. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]