Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Two Albanian Poems— Luan Rama

Apr 3, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Albanian by Miranda Shehu-Xhilaga 


Two Albanian Poems by Luan Rama

Image used for representation.


Elegy For Aegean Sea Dolls 

For dolls, an elegy has never been written,
an elegy mourning their dreams,
but  today on the Aegean coast,
an elegy alone too little seems to be,
for their faint eyes in the great calamity
burned and thrown by thunderstorms and lightning.
For the silent mouths of children left at sea
fleeing the war and the horror of the world,
there is nothing but their small shoes left,
the scarves of the lost mothers who knows where
and these nameless dolls without hands and feet,
without their adorned shirts
and eyes that no longer can speak of anything
from their hell journey,
dolls washed out on the Aegean coast…
For dolls, elegies have never been written says the foamy wave,
never, repeats the wind that hits the rocks,
the wind that weeps with its Homeric tears.
This is the elegy of shoes that will not walk tomorrow,
the elegy of children who can no longer dream,
the elegy of their extinguished eyes in the world of bullet-like wonders
in the Sea of the Dead Humanism… 

You, My Sacred Psalm 

A little church you wanted for a long time
a bell that spreads the word of love
whereas I, I looked for a single psalm
hummed in the old songs of the late Solomon .
But all the psalms were haunted
in the whirlwind and sadness of time
mouth to mouth
bed to bed
breath to breath
in ruined synagogues and churches
that did not survive.
Then I asked for my very own
the haunted psalm, the humble, and the grey
the psalm of the lips awakening the dead and the dawn
that fill the small bird chests and homes
the psalm that lightly steps on the grass
with green eyes,
with a crushed pomegranate dripping juice
the psalm for a lonely church erected
beside a stone-made altar
and a forgotten cult wall
where the monks have left a million words of prayer
under the celestial dome
with gods and deities falling in love.
For a church, you asked
I found the purple psalm
at the palimpsest of all time
Laudamus the soul that has honored the hands
and holds me by his spirit
today is the glorified day
full of Mozart arches
cello and oboe
that elevate the world and our bodies
Praised, my holy psalm! 

Also, read a Malayalam story by M. Rajeev Kumar, translated into English by K. M. Ajir Kutty, and published in The Antonym

The Zoo Story— M. Rajeev Kumar

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Luan Rama is an Albanian scholar, filmmaker, editor, and writer born in Tirana in 1952. He graduated from Tirana University, Faculty of Political and Juridical Sciences, majoring in journalism and subsequently specializing in film-making and communication at Paris VII Denis Diderot University. His career spans over 14 years as a screenwriter of many award-winning feature films, documentaries, and cartoons for Albanian cinematic studios. He is the author of 60 books including novels, stories, and historical books, such as The Literary Paris, Last Trip Of Arthur Rimbaud, The Autumn of Alberto Saviani, François Mitterand-Gods Die Also, and two volumes of poetry published in French, Territories of the Soul and Cover me with a piece of sky, Porto Palermo in Albanian and Cose Animate in Italian. He is a distinguished diplomat who served as an ambassador of his country from 1992-2005 in Paris, Lisbon, and Monaco. He has represented Albania as the country’s cultural diplomat at UNESCO and the International Organization of La Francophonie (1997-2003). For his distinguished service to his country and his excellence in writing, he has been awarded many prizes and recognition awards such as the 1986 Naim Frashëri medal by the President of the Republic of Albania, the 2002 Grand Officier of Ordre national du Mérite (Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit) by French President Jacques Chirac among many others. He currently lives in Paris and lectures in geopolitics at the Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisation (Institut des Langues et Civilization Orientales). 

Miranda Shehu-Xhilaga is an Albanian-born physician (University of Tirana, 1989) and a Ph.D. (Monash University, 2002). She is the translator of the poetry collection Bantam (Austin Macauley Publishing, London, 2018) and translator of Zaratha’s Epistolary, Luan Rama (Arcadia, Melbourne, 2019). Miranda Shehu-Xhilaga has also published two original volumes of poetry titled This pain is mine (Albas, Tiranë, 2018) and Lilith (Lena Graphics, Prishtine, 2022). She lives in Melbourne, Australia. 


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