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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

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Vorea UJKO

Vorea UJKO

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Vorea UJKO

 

Arbëresh moment

I love the Byzantine bell tower,
Against the azure sky
That pierces straight into our souls
As evening turns to violet
And the girl of my dreams
Chats on the doorstep,
With lowered head.
In my solitary reverie
There appear before me
Scenes of my childhood
And the tragic face of Garantine.
From the distant shades
Comes Constantine's steed a-galloping
On its funereal course.
And an Arbëresh echo
Pierces the air and transfixes my heart,
Rising aloft like a mystery
On its weightless wings,
Seizing the ivy on the wall,
Seizing the silence,
Seizing my blood.

[Moment arbëresh, from the volume Këngë arbëreshe, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1982, 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. 58]

 

Arbëresh song - x

A great dawn awaits you
And you will find the words
That you do not use now.
It will be a bright dawn
And everything will sing out in the sunshine -
The vineyards, the river, the house,
Your swelling heart
Will sing out in the sunshine.
You are a strong root
And your army has no foot soldiers
For they are all captains.
Greetings, my brother.

[Këngë arbëreshe X, from the volume Këngë arbereshe, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1982, p. 69, 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. 59]

 

You are beautiful

You are beautiful, girl,
But love between us
Is impossible
Because, just between the two of us,
I once loved your mother
Who was beautiful, like you.

[Ti je e bukur, from the volume Këngë arbereshe, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1982, p. 93, 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. 60]

 

Three maidens

Three fair maidens,
Three maidens, three sisters,
Three embroidered wedding dresses.
The youngest said
Love will come,
It will come with the dawn.
Suddenly death came
And took her away.
Two fair maidens,
Two maidens, two sisters,
Two embroidered wedding dresses.
The second said
Perhaps death will come
And only you will remain.
Soon love came
And took her away.
And now I wait alone.

[Tri vajza, from the volume Këngë arbereshe, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1982, p. 102, 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. 61]

 

Music

I listen to the music of the night
When waves fall,
All colours faded
And the moon descends
Behind the trees.
I am not at home here
Yet neither do I feel foreign.
I will kiss the brow
Of the girl who knocks at the door
And asks in my language
If I'd like some coffee.
Perhaps she thinks
I have learnt the language
To use it on my travels,
And does not know the secret
Of our blood ties.

[Muzikë, from the volume Burime, Tirana: Naim Frashëri 1985, p. 48, 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. 62]