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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Rita PETRO

Rita PETRO

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Rita PETRO

 

Perfection

God... male
In his tear he created the world.
World... female,
In her pain she reached perfection.

[from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 3. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Would it be love?

Would it be love
If the body were composed
Of but flesh and blood?
Without those wonderfully
Curving forms
In the penumbra?
Without the fire-bearing bows on eyes
Lending the blood its heat
         and pulsation?
Would it be love?

[A do të ishte dashuria, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 4. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The last gate

I have flung open the gates
                                 to my soul,
Only one I keep closed,
The last gate.
There linger the angels,
There loiter the devils.
If you approach the angels,
You will make me your slave,
If you approach the devils,
You will become my slave.

The last gate will remain closed.

[Porta e fundit, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 5. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

We drank coffee

We drank coffee
The grounds remained at the bottom of the cup,
We smoked cigarettes,
The ashes remained in the coffee grounds,
We spoke words
My voice lingered in the empty glass,
We did not make love,
My hope remained at the bottom of my heart.

[from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 6. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

You did not understand me

No, I did not long for you
As fire does wood
To turn it to ashes,
I did not pursue you
As a beast does its prey
To make it its prize.

I was a cry
In the face of silence.

I am off now,
"Good night"
Wailing and whining
In the dark.

[Ti nuk më kuptove, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 7. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Thirst

If life were
A glass filled to the brim
I would drink it down in one gulp.

[Etja, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 10. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Leave me as I am!

Leave me as I am,
If sleep finds me between those trees,
Even though I am only half-dressed,
Leave me as I am!
The trees and I
Love to dress and undress.
They do it in front of the sun,
I do it in front of you.

[Lermë kështu siç jam, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 11. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Kiss me

Kiss me, my beloved,
In the nape of my neck,
There, where the thread of life
Is at its thinnest.

Look how it strains
With the anguish of waiting,
With the boiling of blood,
With a hesitant call.

If you are late,
The thread will break.

[Puthmë, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 13. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

When others love us

When others love us
We coddle ourselves with our hands,
When we love others
We coddle ourselves with their hands.

[from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 14. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Until the morrow

Twelve hours,
Twelve mountains
Separated me
From seeing you until the morrow.
Impatient, I rode on the flanks of time
With a little whip,
With a big whip,
I lashed the back of the bay horse.
Its gallop resounded in the still of the night
Until I reached the first peak,
But I wanted it to cross two, three,
Ten mountains at once.
The streaks I left on its body
Oozed blood.
I woke up...
Outside the window, dawn was scarlet red.
Oh, God!
Two mountain-hours kept me from you
With lightning bolts' bloody lashes.
                                 on my back.

[Deri nesër, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 15. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Without you

In this house
Empty and freezing,
Only your jacket
Affords me any heat.

[Pa ty, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 22. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Do not demand any promises

Do not demand any promises,
Promises like keys can be lost,
Do not demand constant love,
Eternity and the shadows of death lurk nearby,
Never demand any unsaid words,
Words mean no more than objects.
Demand only that I change one moment
In your long life.

[from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

To a poet

How did you catch my eye so suddenly,
Together with the wind, the flowers, the trees,
Together with the song, the river, the sea,
Together with hope, pain and laughter?

You caught my eye so suddenly,
Or were you there from the start?

[Poetit, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 25. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

This love

This love
Has inflated my breast,
But there is little air around me.

This love
Has given me the heavens,
But my window is so small.

This love
Demands that I surrender my all
But the fear of sin
Is as old as the world itself.

Help me, oh God, to understand,
Does this love cut off the shackles
Or put them on?

[Kjo dashuri, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 26. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The child and us

My child,
Your child,
Our child
Has taken its first steps.

My child,
Your child,
Our child
Has learned to run.

My child,
Your child,
Our child
Has arisen and gone.

We have grown old!

[Fëmija dhe ne, from the volume Vargje të përfolura, Tirana 1994, p. 27. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]