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

 

Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

BACK

Arshi PIPA (Photo: Patricia Nugee).

Arshi PIPA (Photo: Patricia Nugee).

Webdesign J. Groß

Arshi PIPA

 

The First Night

A kitchen, not in use for ages,
Over the sink with its porcelain tiles,
An oil lamp coughs black smoke,
The door locked, the windows sealed.

A cluster of shadows low along the wall,
A chamber pot behind the door, near it some old
Onion skins, a rat gnawing on crumbs of bread,
Someone gulping from a flask.

The shadows shift, curious eyes and faces
Emerge from cloaks and shawls,
A heavy step shakes the stairs. Silence.

A clank of deadbolts, a scream near the office,
Another howl, frightening and long, followed
By demeaning curses. Then the bolts again... and steps...

[Natë e parë, from the volume Libri i burgut, Rome: Apice, 1959, p. 27. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Dawn

The dawns cannot be seen,
Can only be heard.
Slumber, anguish, waking
In horror... a jumble

Of snoring guards, sweat
And fumes of gas,
With cries, with clamour,
And the stench of decay.

And now from the other side,
A beckoning voice,
A long whisper.

Whistling, chirping,
The birds in the pines
Bid goodbye to the night.

[Agim, from the volume Libri i burgut, Rome: Apice, 1959, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Lamp

I entreat you, do not close the window,
Oh, unknown woman,
I dream of your movements,
Of your voice evoking spring!

I beg you, do not snuff out the lamp,
I crave it tonight,
My hope in the gloom,
Like a sail untouched by the wind.

[Llampa, from the volume Libri i burgut, Rome: Apice, 1959, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Canal

Thunder near Korça. The rain courses
Down tarpaulins onto heads, upon the hay,
The prisoners huddle, cower in their covers,
A heap of putrid flesh and rags.

Evening has come. Blood streams from a mouth,
A gypsy lad sings oblivious his song,
Some scuffle over a water drop drunk by a comrade,
Others curse for a bit of stolen bread. A guard enters,

Kicking and thrashing, cries, a whistle blows.
Then calm. All are exhausted,
Try to catch some sleep if they can.

Groans and sighs from the first-aid barracks.
In the morn, the canal and the marsh will be biding,
Except for those awaited by a barren grave.

[Kanali, from the volume Libri i burgut, Rome: Apice, 1959, p. 63. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Farewell

Come and say farewell, my sisters,
Smile and give no sign of grief,
At the doorway in high spirits
Come and wave a handkerchief.

With a head scarf dry your eyes now,
Wipe them near a burning tallow,
Fling it to the wind, my sisters,
Watch as it becomes a swallow.

'mongst the thousands on their way to
Foreign lands beyond the sea
I'll behold it when you cast it
There wherever I may be.

(1939)

[Lamtumirë, from the volume Poezi, vepra poetike, Peja: Dukagjini 1998, p. 104. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Pine Tree

Dawns that cannot be seen
Must be conjured by the senses.
When direful dreams take flight
To the snoring of guards,
To the stench of urine mixed
With sweat and kerosene.

And then, from beyond,
A bustling beckons,
A rustling echoes,
A twittering and chirping.
The birds in the pine tree
Proclaim the coming day.

(1946)

[Lamtumirë, from the volume Poezi, vepra poetike, Peja: Dukagjini 1998, p. 131. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]