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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Azem SHKRELI, 1992 (Photo: Robert Elsie).

Azem SHKRELI, 1992
(Photo: Robert Elsie).

Webdesign J. Groß

Azem SHKRELI

 

At Saint Naum's

I have come here
To be baptized without a name.

I have come here
To be blessed without a crown.

I have come here
To be sanctified without incense.

I have come here
So that two roads may cross.

I have come here
To pray to mankind on behalf of God.

[Në Shën Naum, from the volume Pagëzimi i fjalës, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 28, 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. 98]

 

Mass

Let my grass grow above my head
Above my head let my grass grow
My grass above my head let it grow

Let it grow
Let my grass grow above my head

[Meshë, from the volume Pagëzimi i fjalës, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 47, 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. 99]

 

Over Europe

Evening. We are in flight, plucking at the wool
Of the clouds. Beneath us a white kingdom
Azure triumph. We speed on and pay no heed
Borders armies herds

As if on the century's crest we push aside
The mildew of history the wars as if they had not been
A lady shakes the sighs from her handkerchief
Somewhere over Mauthausen

I look out the window. I do not know why I laugh
While slowly emptying the bottle with my friend
Who will be born there below us tonight
Merchants? Sartre? Generals?

Evening. We are in flight. Beneath us pensive
Europe drowses over serious matters
Sleep on wise lady I never bothered
About your whims which were not mine.

[Mbi Evropë, from the volume Pagëzimi i fjalës, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, 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. 100]

 

Tale about us

The prime of life
We ate unripe fruit

In the branches remained only
The bird's voice and feathers

Summer passed and all drank
Its red wine

One got drunk, one
Fell on the horn of a goat

One clambered onto its strong-willed
Head to see what time it was

The wisest one prayed to God
And the devil not to pray for us

[Rrëfimi për ne, from the volume Kënga e hutinit, Prishtina: Rilindja 1986, p. 34, 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. 101]

 

Portrait

He placed
His thoughts on the table and
Pondered

A man of the world

He extracted the seeds
From his own watermelon head
One by one

A man of the world

[Portret, from the volume Kënga e hutinit, Prishtina: Rilindja 1986, p. 32, 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. 102]

 

Rugovë

I am returning
To your harsh beneficence
I am returning

I am returning
To your savage beauty
I am returning

Once again
I am to meet you
Like a mother

[Rugovë, from the volume Kënga e hutinit, Prishtina: Rilindja 1986, p. 30, 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. 103]