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English  Albanian Literature in Translation

Robert Elsie

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Esad MEKULI

Esad MEKULI

X

Malli për të pambërrijtshën


Rec. Pjeter Gjoka

Retë luejnë n’naltësi si qingjat n’kodrina,
ndërsa malli per t’pambërrijtshmen ndryhet n’mue.

Dëshirojsha me u kapë në vallen e reve kuqlue
e me fluturue në t’shkëlqyeshmet naltësina
me gëzimin e kangës baritore...

E kur hana luginave ia beh n’shpejti
dhe toka natën n’dëshirim thërret,
si rrezet e argjenta, mbi kalli -
të shkoj
e t’vizitoj
skajet e dhimbjes e vendet ku ndjeva ankthet.

Vaj! Me u kapë n’vallen e reve n’kuqlime
zemra me t’dhanun do t’më dëshironte -
që rinia t’gërthasë ‘i herë ma me gëzime
dhe mall i zemrës s’vuejtun t’gufonte.

— por, pse zemra tingllon përmallshëm si za n’drithtim
dhe droja kaplon thellë zemrën e shpirtin tim?

Kur dëshiroj aq retë mbi qytet me i soditë,
ndërsa mall për të pambërrijtshmen m’kap, m’shafit.

 

Webdesign J. Groß

Esad MEKULI

 

Audio of this poem in Albanian

Longing for the Unobtainable

Like lambs on the hillsides clouds frolic on high
As a longing for the unobtainable permeates my being:

How I long to join in the dance of the crimson clouds
And soar to the dazzling heights
In the rapture of a pastoral song...

And when the moonlight floods the valleys
Casting silvery rays upon ears of corn,
And the earth calls out in nocturnal desire,
Let me go
And visit
The extremities of my suffering and the haunts of my anguish.

Alas! My heart yearns
To join in the dance of the crimson clouds -
For my youth to exalt and rejoice
And for my aching heart to burst with longing.

But why does my heart beat with nostalgia,
           like a quivering voice,
And fear plunge into the depths of my heart and soul?

Whenever I contemplate the clouds over the city,
Whenever longing for the unobtainable permeates my being.

[Malli për të pambërrijtshmen, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 14. First published in English in An Elusive Eagle Soars, Anthology of Modern Albanian Poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Turk, Elhamdulila

The Turks took up the sword,
Europe trembled, shuddered.
And we too in Kosova fought
For our beloved freedom.

They attacked with fire and sword,
For centuries our freedoms were lost,
The tyrant overran us:
'You are a Turk, elhamdulila!'

Religion and nation were the same,
Moslem and Turk were one.
He wanted us to forget our very names:
'You are a Turk, elhamdulila!'

He forbade our language too,
To speak no Turkish was to be an infidel.
It is the word of God, they told us:
'You are a Turk, elhamdulila!'

'You are a Turk, you are a Turk,' they thundered
At the Albanians for centuries,
And one day one of us uttered:
'I am a Turk, elhamdulila!'

But no, Turks we are not!
Never! Let everyone know
We have always been Albanians;
Religion cannot wipe that away!

No, Turks we are not!
But their working people we love.
After times of blood and gloom
We shall go forth - hand in hand!

[Turk elhamdulila, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 72. First published in English in An Elusive Eagle Soars, Anthology of Modern Albanian Poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 29. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Is it the Albanian's Fault?

(1938. On hearing of the secret agreement to expel four hundred thousand so-called ‘Turks’ from ‘southern Serbia’ to the wilds of Anatolia, 65 Kosova students (56 Serbs and Montenegrins, 8 Albanians and 1 Turk) signed and published a protest (in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian) against the Yugoslav government for this crime against the people. The protest was transmitted illegally to foreign embassies in Belgrade and distributed throughout Kosova and Macedonia.)

Is it the Albanian's fault that he lives under this sky,
Under this sky, in the land of his ancestors?
Is it his fault that he exists and will not be uprooted,
The Albanian, slave or master, who wants to belong to himself?

Is it the Albanian's fault that his eyes flash fire
When he glares as others expel him from his home and his soil?
Is it his fault that he exists when others wish him dead,
Or that he will spill blood to defend his hearth and not give up alive?

Is it the Albanian's fault that he wishes to live as others do,
Like a human being, among his own people, now and forever?
Is it his fault that, despite force, he resists
Under the precious sky of Kosova, the land of his ancestors?

[A asht fajtor shqiptari, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 44. First published in English in An Elusive Eagle Soars, Anthology of Modern Albanian Poetry, London: Forest Books 1993, p. 30. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Evening

Like the golden fringes of an azure shawl
Held in two white hands, two snow-laden hills,
The sunset flames... Overhead the clouds
Cross the sky and melt into space.

As the last rays fade over the slopes,
The veil spreads to cover the ash-grey plains,
The mountains now fall silent, frozen and
Lifeless... all things have grown sombre and vanish.

Night has fallen and, in the air, cries can be heard,
The trees by the roadside tremble in the wind...
Yet in some distant land is the white light of dawn

Whetting its golden arrows to overwhelm the night.
Darkness reigns o'er the world. In the valley, the villages,
Stretched out in the wee hours, are sound asleep.

(1933)

[Mbramja, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 11. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

The Death of Day

The setting sun
Spent itself
In a flickering fire...

All things quivered
In sadness
And lamentation.

In that silent coffin of twilight,
In orphaned pain
Tonight

We mourned
What we loved, what was ours,
With pristine tears.

The sighing of the blades of grass,
The quiet sobbing of the wind
Met my heart in sorrow...

The sun tonight
Spent itself
In a flickering fire.

(1934)

[Ndekja e ditës, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 17. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

I

I know no joy: worry seethes in my heart,
I am alone - no brother or sister,
A broken child on the misty horizon
Where lightning flashes and flings one into the depths.

I am the pain of the poor, bereft of food and drink,
A mother's tear fallen on an empty table,
I am the longing of the slave, forever pursued,
Who rises like a giant in the air amongst the birch trees.

I am the suffering of the oppressed, muffled in misery,
A war cry resounding, scattering all impediments,
In that great expectation splendidly arising
Over the ruins, I am a ray of hope.

No, I know no joy, worry seethes in my heart,
I am alone - no brother or sister,
A broken child on the misty horizon
Where lightning flashes and flings one into the depths.

(1935)

[Unë, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 28. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Hope

(Two fishermen, covered in a piece of torn canvas and rocked
by the waves, are asleep in their tiny boat called Ümüt (Hope),
the letters of which can hardly be read.)

All night long did the foaming waves beat them,
The beacon its signal did cast,
Yet they, caught in reverie visions,
Had drifted and fallen asleep,

Outstretched,
A brief respite
In their struggle for a better life,
For that which they longed to lead.

... then the dawn cast its white rays,
The sun outshone the lighthouse,
Wide-eyed gulls perched on the reefs.

Alone were the two of them, waiting
In their Hope, rocked in their reverie,
And in their endless dreams.

[Shpresa, from the volume Brigjet, Prishtina: Rilindja 1981, p. 136. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

 

Classical Authors

 

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