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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors



Gjekë MARINAJ, 2006

Gjekë MARINAJ, 2006

Webdesign J. Groß



The Bureaucrats Were Not Children's Kites

Although someone mended their lives' frayed fabric,
Patching it up, keeping it from unravelling,
Yet he could not give them wings, hard as he tried,
Till he tacked tails to their butts, tails in zig-zag form.
             Now they could fly.
With their teeth they bit off the last threads that bound them
             to the common people.
Little by little they soared to the heights;
Some not so far - others as high as aircraft.
The light-minded - they imagined they could overcome
Even gravity.
Feverishly they laboured to keep the sun from setting
             on the anachronistic sieve
That sheds the flour and retains the chaff.
The bureaucrats were not children's kites.
They were fighters with bombs raining
             death on humanity.
They were a mysterious mould, more slick
And twice as potent as winter at generating rot,
Thrice as menacing as earthquakes.
They destroyed not only contours of walls
But also innate goodness in people's hearts.
They envisioned the centuries upside down.
No, it is not enough to shout:
"Down with the bureaucrats! Down with the bureaucrats!".

[Burokratët nuk qenë balona fëmijësh, from the volume Mos më ik larg, Tirana 1995, p. 60]


The Horses

All our lives we keep running,
We look only ahead.
What happens behind us, we fear to know.
We have no names.
We are all called horses:
We don't weep,
We don't laugh,
We fall silent.
We listen,
We eat what we are handed,
We go where we are herded,
None of us is sharp-witted enough.
For the horse of a king,
They created a lofty post.
For the horse of a princess,
They sewed a golden saddle.
For the horse of a peasant,
They wove a saddle of straw.
As for the wild horse,
They kept it outdoors all its life.
Before the people,
We were and remain horses.

[Kuajt, from the volume Mos më ik larg, Tirana 1995, p. 59]


Sunday Prayer

            "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
            (Luke 23:34)

On Sunday I prayed for the Republic:

For cannibals to sprout claws
             and morph into beasts,
For beasts to become gentle
             and turn into humans,
For humans to grow wings
             and change into angels,
For angels to descend from heaven
             and convert into poets,
For poets to conceive of words
             which blossom into poems,
For poems to metamorphose
             and transform into

Plato's proof of the "objective truth."

[Lutjet e së dielës]



As if it had erased all its cares in heaven,
Ever so calmly the snow covers earth,
Feather light,
Relying on that old-fashioned kind of flight,
Never dreaming that upon touching ground
It might be trampled,
Or melted,
Indifferent that its appearance in this world
Makes men gaze with astonishment
At its leisurely fall!
The few who are clad in fur coats
Stick out their tongues with hedonistic pleasure,
Lovers easily convert it into steam
The second it contacts the hot coals of their lips,
The healthy merely rub their hands
             to warm up a little.
While the others, oh, the others!
They marvel at how the snow descends
             without a whisper of warning!
They wonder at how gravity can draw down such lightness
But doesn't find the strength to free it
             from the weight of grief
That long ago once burdened
Their innocent souls!

(Belgrade, 16 February 1991)

[Dëborë, from the volume Mos më ik larg, Tirana 1995, p.21]


Propel my World

Propel my world, oh tangible breeze.
This is the moment when youth,
             drunk with excess,
Skitters like a red rock
Over the forgotten board game
             of peace.

Analyse the blood
Of this stubborn stone
             and you'll understand
How impossible
It's been for me
             to resist you.

Love is a drug
That must be inhaled when it arrives:
             something innocent dies
When it departs -
The very cradle we pretended in vain
             to rock together.

It's a sin to clip the wings of angels,
To conceal the secret that softens their smiles.
             You know that I love you
From the sharpness of cracked marble pyramids,
From the petrifaction of our flowing lava,
From the flaming plates of the lithosphere - my breast, yours.

[Shtyje botën time]


She Brought Cancun to its Knees

Aphrodite, the one and only Aphrodite,
Wrapped in the sheerest silk of the moon,
Leapt out of the lap of night into Cancun.

When the white sand
Hugged her footprints to its chest,
Dolphins sang in a higher key,
Sharks took to pulling out each other's teeth,
Waves held their breath.

The moment they spied her,
The sky became a verdant countryside,
Shores angled their shoulders to her shape.
The earth drizzled a thin sweat,
Bouquets of flowers blossomed from her breast.

Her beauty brought Cancun to its knees,
The faces of the pale waves blushed crimson,
The horizon blazed in red-hot embers,
The sun, as if drunk, shook off its rays.

Aphrodite wrung out the blue velvet cloak of the sea
And hung it swirling out to dry between her beaming eyes,
Then waved Cancun an insatiable goodbye
And flew into the twilight's flaming arms.

[Ajo e gjunëzojë Kanunën]



       of skin

[Ankth i përëritur]


Lullaby Singers

            To the farmers of Colorado, Texas

They step onto the golden plain and turn
Into men of iron. Midday heat
Seethes within them, and they hum
The ploughing of the fields.
The earth trembles
And roars beneath their feet,
As they sing its blessed lullaby.
It would not be strange one day
To hear ears of corn sprouting in their veins.
The warmth of the soil
Causes their blood to boil, and they are not afraid
Of open spaces, gold-grey,
Or the sepia of weak coffee.
The timeless contours of the ground
Do not stain their hands or faces.
As the cities' boom and clang make flimsy men of them,
They join the new dance, the sifting of earth, with ease
And begin their clamorous toil with bowed heads.
Their sweat, like a prankster, puts out their cigarettes
And cowers in the dark of loneliness.
Not yet hearing birds twitter overhead,
They fasten their fingers to the steel-nosed ploughs and turn
The soil. Fatigue glides off their fingernails
And wafts away.
The sun nods at them boldly
As it descends beneath the heavy breath of night.

[Këngëtarët e ninullave]