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Azem Shkreli

 


The River

Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck

 

Only silence

Wise. Undaunted thought.

 

You know something blue

And deep to slake our thirst.

 

When you flood we long for that word

As one bank longs for the other.

 

Oh, blessed river, what can we do

To flow with you and not grow old?

 

 

 

 

The Cliff

Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck

 

We saw what we saw,

You were silent. I hardly grew up.

 

I envied your

Shadow and patience,

 

I kissed your

Thought one day and left,

 

I don’t know why you taught me

The pain of a drip on stone.

 

 

 

 

 

The Words

Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck

 

I place you stone upon stone and build with you

The Great Wall of my faith in mankind,

In my shadow and in things which do not know me

I place you stone upon stone,

On the thoughts and silence I do not trust,

On the subdued new mother I place you

Stone upon stone,

On the pain of endurance, on

Unforgiven blood, on the traces

I did not leave when I took the wrong road, and on my

Guilt and that of Christ whom I never saw,

For you I place you stone upon stone

On my shoulders, on bread which must not be trampled,

And on my father’s hunched years,

I place you

Stone upon stone

On everything I do not have and

On everything I cannot do.

I place you stone upon stone on my head and take an oath.

 

 

 

 

___

Born in 1938 in the village of Shkrel in western Kosova, Azem Shkreli lost his mother while he was only two years old, and was brought up my his grandmother who died when he was still a young boy. After high school he went on to study at the University of Prishtina and graduated in 1965 in Albanian language and literature. Shkreli worked tirelessly for freedom and independence for his fellow Kosovar Albanians, but in 1997 he died after a trip to Germany. His many books of poetry included Bulzat (The Buds), Engjujt e rrugėve (The Street Angels) and E di njė fjalė prej guri (I Know a Word for Stone), published in 1970. He also wrote novels, short stories, drama, movie screenplays, and essays.

 

English language copyright ©2006 by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck.