Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Poetry

Albania

Albania is greater than its soil,
Than the sky stretching upwards above it.
It is the ancient dream of a ship,
A yacht kissing the depths.

It flaps and flutters in two halves,
Wings beating to sear bloody wounds.
It is not part of this planet, but a star,
A tear fallen from the eye of the Lord.

Argon TUFA
1991
[Shqipëria, from the volume Rrethinat e Atlantidës, Tirana 2002, p. 49. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie.]

Agron Tufa (b. 1967), was born in Suhadoll in the Dibra region of eastern Albania and studied literature at the University of Tirana. He continued his studies in Moscow in the 1990s where he graduated in translation theory, with particular concentration on the work of Joseph Brodsky. Since his return to Albania, he has been involved in the literary magazine E për-7-shme (Suitable) and edited the much-admired periodical Aleph. He is now editor of the literary supplement FjalA (The Word) and teaches literature at the University of Tirana.

Tufa has published poetry and prose of note. He is the author of the verse collections Aty te portat Skée, Elbasan 1996 (There at the Scaean Gates); and Rrethinat e Atlantidës, Tirana 2002 (The Surrounding of Atlantis); and the novels Dueli, Tirana 2002 (The Duel); and Fabula rasa, Tirana 2004 (Fabula Rasa). He has also translated many Russian authors, among whom Joseph Brodsky, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelshtam, Boris Pasternak, Andrei Platonov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Nabokov, and Vladimir Sorokin.

9 comments:

verniciousknids said...

A violently beautiful piece you've shared with us. Thanks!

Romerican said...

I was pleased to find some poetry in your post. I think the nationalism plays quite beautifully in this particular piece (except I'm confident the second line of the second stanza needs reworking).

Off topic, I hadn't noticed before that you were once living in Bratislava... a town I adore! I hope to go back and visit again before long, but I did very much enjoy the quaint dilapidation of buildings and the open hearts of local folk.

Ginnie said...

I found myself wondering how many other countries could be filled in that "Albania" slot! Hmm. Probably a lot, you think?

ITS said...

To come to the aid of the Romerican dude. I am no poetry expert but I can help with deciphering that verse...

"Wings beating to sear bloody wounds."

Well the wings reference (together with the two halves distinct north-south) is most certainly due to our double-headed eagle as a national symbol. That verse of course is a tribute to the unforgiving vengeance laid towards any occupying force.

Which makes me think about a Dardan (Illyrian) legend about how an Eagle gets wounded by a hunter somewhere in the Albanian Alps (between Kosova and Albania.

The legend goes that the eagle loses a wing and a great quantity of blood. Her/his partner is trying to come to the aid and resorts to a very improbable solution.

The partner tears his own wing and goes and joins the wounded friend. The two eagles are joined into a single holy bird that now is the most recognizable symbol of the Albanian people.

------
By the way it's such a bizarre comment to suggest that a verse needs to be reworked. Poetry like most forms of arts is relative. Should we ask Picasso to rework one of the triangles in "Guernica"?

Cheers

Expat Traveler said...

I found myself thinking like Ginnie...

hockeyman said...

I have to think it loses a little something in the translation. That being said I think the second verse is better than the first expecially with the commentary from ITS. It seems to all make sense to me, while the first with the ancient dream of a ship and the Yacht kissing the depths eludes me..

I assume the tear from the eye of the Lord corresponds to the physical shape of the country...

traveller one said...

vknids... I liked the edginess that comes through in this little gem!
Romerican... I love poetry- in fact I have a whole shelf full of Romanian poetry books here with me, and Bratislava is a jewel!
Ginnie... you're right, it could be so many places, but with the additional imagery and a little explanation about Albanian folklore, the poem is truly Albanian.
ITS... thank you for your explanation- it does clear things up a bit! But I don't think it's 'bizarre' to suggest a poem could use a bit more work, especially a translation, but not everyone has the 'eye' to suggest ways to make art better. Some people do though.
ExpatT... the information from ITS helps to explain why it is about Albania specifically.
Hockeyman...the website where I get these poems doesn't include the Albanian version though I wish it did. I agree that something is probably lost in the translation (what a cliche!), but the beauty of the poem is still there.

Romerican said...

its, thank you for the insight. I can now tactfully withdraw my remarks.

(But, yes, it is sometimes fair to be critical of art. That's generally why we put it out there - for the feedback.)

kreshnik bjeshkësh said...

the albanian version of the poem in question (Note: it's rimed!!!)


SHQIPËRIA

Shqipëria është më e madhe se toka e saj,
Se qielli i shtrirë pingul.
Ajo është ëndërr e thinjur anije -
Jaht që greminat puth.

Me krahë rreh plagët-gjak t'i mbyllë
Tek përpëlitet përgjysmuar.
Ajo s'është pjesë planeti, por yll, -
Loti që Zotit i pati pikuar.

1991