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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors

 

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Primo SHLLAKU, 2003

Primo SHLLAKU, 2003

Webdesign J. Groß

Primo SHLLAKU

 

A wound

See, this was my blood,
A moment ago it coursed through my heart,
Take its redness and hang it in your sky
Like a sun.
If you can't,
Hang it like a moon,
If you still can't.
Take it as it is,
Like blood
That a moment ago
Coursed through my heart
And perhaps in the ruddy darkness there
Caught sight
Of your eyes full of light.

(1983)

[Një plagë, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 46. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Requiem for my verse

You lived between two fires,
The first, of birth,
Then the womb grew cold.
The second, of immolation.
My memory
Will not accept you.
Voiceless
Yet you unfold,
The flames licking at you.
Graveless,
Stoneless,
Under a mound of ash
You lie
And I sang you
This song,
And I hummed you
This dirge,
Oh, my children born and perished,
Oh, sons of a most ardent oblivion
Night calls you like stars
Day kills you like stars.

[Meshë mortore për vargjet e mia, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 55. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The red room

Lofty mountain
Free fall
Death in an instant.

The lips are there
A sea of flesh
The boat cannot sail,
The wave is hot.

Call me something close
Heaven, for example,
I will call you heart,
Something far away.

The blood returns
This time bringing stone
I will leave you alone
The room will be red.

(1985)

[Dhoma e kuqe, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 60. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Etudes

1.
Love me hard, lover,
Maybe today my body will be lighter
And my tracks deeper.

2.
You are like the mountain:
With your own winds,
Flowers,
Caves...

3.
Patience now, beloved,
For at my door, that most familiar entry,
My blood
Will bring you the rock.

(1985)

[Etyde, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 61. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Summer song

Simple sea
Sparkling wave
Eternal flux.

Surging surface of lustful waves,
Squeezing depths of enduring virginity,
Swimmers in the distance,
Sun absent
         high in the heavens.

Wind,
Light breeze,
Forceful gale,
Strong storm on curious flesh
That knows how to find
Stones in the sand.

(1985)

[Verore, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 65. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Wish

A bottle
Two...
Three...
Many bottles
Those with broken necks
That spin,
Bite,
Without enhancement.
One...
Two...
Three...
Just as many rosy navels
But not of infants.
Then
I want to rise
If I can,
Want to have wings,
Not like an angel
Nor a bird,
But like a free man
On the fly...

(1985)

[Dëshirë, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 68. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Nocturnal fields

Nocturnal fields, a mighty quaking,
Screams,
Yes, monsters.
The moon in a corner, that well-known disk,
Is the only remnant of the coming day.
Beneath the earth,
Your frozen body
And I must remember it all.
On the earth
Your ardent body
And I must forget it all.

Listen!
The night exists,
The night lives,
We are a symbol.

(1985)

[Fushat e natës, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 69. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Mountains

A mountain pine...
Snow,
Distant
Fog,
I,
Here,
Table,
Hands
On top,
Hands across,
Mine,
Between us
Only a glass pane
That can still vibrate,
And this time
The painter
Shall not die.

(Razna, 1986)

[Male, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 87. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

An abandoned church

Behind it, the mountain,
The lonely tree
Is the punctuation of its silence,
The cicadas are gone...
The channels of their songs are empty,
The clouds are gathering,
Casting their shadows on the mountain's breast,
A road leading up to me
And beckoning down when I reach the summit.
The sky begins under the roof,
Voices of people once alive,
If their sound had a skeleton,
This building would be
A charnel-house.
A receptacle,
This basin once contained water,
Now the water can be anywhere,
The water is redeemed and free,
Wrapped in the empty sheet of early morning,
This edifice bids me climb the mountain...

(1987)

[Një kishë e braktisun, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 104. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The times

In the beginning was the sea...
The sea and later the bank,
Now they are three:
The sea, the bank and the melancholy.

The water was chilly,
Now it is a cascade.

The first time, you were young,
Your life was unripe,
You were an early fruit,
Your heart a bud
And we who had infinity...

The second time
Your heart had opened,
Fragrances fluttered...
You were but a victim.

(1987)

[Heret, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 106. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

I.K.

He was the measure of our freedom,
For as long as he had another name
We chose silence.

(1989)

[IK-sit, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 109. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The rooster's head

In the meadow the head of a crowing rooster,
One eye staring down
At a slender blade of grass
As trenchant as a word,
One eye gazing up
At the sky
As wide as silence,
Its glance a rhetorical question,
The sky, its only freedom,
Silence, its only science,
Love, its only dimension.

(1989)

[Kryet e gjelit, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 111. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

A perfect crime

        for a dictator

He sowed the field of Laughter with yellow, Georgian wheat.
He surreptitiously plucked toothbrushes and toothpaste.

(1992)

[Krim i përsosun, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 127. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Did it have to be death

The sky on the top of my head weighed heavy,
I saw my knees wobble.

The sky on my stomach weighed heavy,
I heard my navel scream.

The earth weighed heavy upon me,
I feel my hands grow numb.

(1992)

[A duhej pa tjetër me vdekje, from the volume Lule Nate, Tirana: Lidhja e Shkrimtarëve 1994, p. 128. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]