Feminine Energy and Passion

Lindita Arapi
Lindita Arapi, 2005. Photo: Stephan Boltz
Lindita Arapi: Kufomë lulesh 1993

9 poems

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

Lindita Arapi was born in Lushnja in 1972. She studied at the University of Tirana in 1994 and began working as a journalist and moderator for Albanian television (TVSH). In 1996 she was awarded a fellowship as a writer in residence at the Heinrich Böll House (Düren, Germany) as well as a scholarship by the International Art Link (New York). She has also taken part in the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa as an Honorary Fellow in Writing. She finished her doctorate at the University of Vienna, and currently lives in Bonn (Germany).

Lindita Arapi, who is among the leading female poets of the post-communist generation from Albania, has published the four following volumes of verse: Kufomë lulesh (Corpse of Flowers) Tirana 1993, translated into Italian as Il cadavere fiorito, Brindisi 1993, Ndodhi në shpirt (It Happened in my Soul), Elbasan 1995, and Melodi të heshtjes (Melody of Silence), Peja 1998.

Diseased colour

A halo
Of sanctity
In the neon light.


Diseased, yet so fair,
I dare not
Look it in the eye,
Afraid I might cause it to perish,
emptyNot a breath of wind, breath of wind, breath of wind,
There is no pink more feeble
Than that which warmly floods in now,
Diseased colour
With a temperature, but no fever, no fever, no fever,
Here lies salvation.

[Ngjyrë e sëmurë, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.11]


And if a wall, long and thick,
A high wall
Should rise in front of you....
What would you do?

I would close my eyes, I would crouch
And rest my cheek against it,
I would find peace in its cool serenity.

And if this wall were death...

[Muret, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.67]

Energies of colour

Oh innocence, disrobed yet white
And you
Sincerity, scarlet yet sinful
Is there any shadow in your colours,
Where you can take refuge and rest your thoughts for a moment?
Has this foolhardiness
Any meaning at all
Or will it come to rest like silk when the wind dies down,
Seductive silk settling soft and slow.
I am afraid, afraid for you,
Oh white.

White is murderous
It will cut down your cleanliness
Little drops of blood
From severed fingers,
Breathless, but with ambiance.

Red is a cold colour,
Lost energy,
Stunning dissonance,
It is a colour which offers everything... while in your hand.
So naive
Though it gives nothing
Without fear of black,
Burns you in scarlet reflection,
And comes to rest only when rain recovered,
Unquenched without water.

Oh innocence, disrobed yet white
And you
Sincerity, scarlet yet sinful
Insensitive, you stand to one side,

Punished and obedient
You raise the intensity of colour.
A line of perfection with crippling barriers.

[Energji të ngjyrës, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.61]


To recline
In a room of white
On cushions of white
They enter,
The natives in their skullcaps of white,
And sit,
Wiping their brows with kerchiefs of white,
And drink
Coffee from scalding cups of white,
They greet
The bride all dressed in white
And wish her offspring
On frosty days of white,
Then to the feast
They rise
And slay sheep of white.

[Njollë gjaku, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.49]

The mauve nun

Lilacs, lilacs, lilacs.
Sitting in the window,
Decolleté revealed,
Is the Mauve Nun.
In the afternoon from behind the windowpane she dreams of glory
Until the stars come out,
She goes out
Into the limelight of her shabby dream,
But never gets beyond
The corner,
There she stands,

Raising her arms
To the age-old sky.

Lilacs, lilacs, lilacs,
Untied they burgeon
In delirium,
A jumble
Of fragrance, stems, petals
Which release her energy
That she may die.

[Murgesha violë, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.63]

Girls are made of water

Girls have only
Moonlit paths
Where they tread like the strains of a violin
Towards the forbidden fruit
emptyurged on by the wind,
emptythe clement, warm wind
emptywhich brings the rain,
To and fro in their white and slender veils
They swing and sway to the azure heavens.
And onwards they tread
Like the strains of a violin.

Girls have wondrous worlds
emptyin their watery imagination.
They perish in your hands.
They never find the only way
There is to dream.
No one feeds them.
They hurry forth,
Growing up so terribly fast.
Disrobing in rundown lodgings
They sacrifice themselves,
For girls perish
As soon as they are grown...
Despite their earthly
They live no longer than a sigh.

[Vajzat janë prej uji, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.33]

My land

This land
With streets and fixed purposes
To expedite its people
Once and for all
Somewhere and nowhere.

For the streets
All end in doubtful crossroads
I am searching for a Land
Which I can have
As my own country.
My land is far away
It is there, in that country,
That I will be born.

Somewhere it will exist
This new Land,
Oh earth of mine, though not of earth.
My home awaits me,
Unknown and buried,
In the midst of an Empire of Winds.

[Toka ime, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.24]


The aging stations of memory
Drip in the rain
So far away, like the lonely.
The walls have lost their colour,
For the weather has turned cold.
Images of time gone by rusting on open platforms

Holes in my head,
Sad-looking trains,
They leave the stations, but never arrive.
Only their lights quiver in the distance.
Relieved of the weight in my head,
That unearthed ancient skull,
Only echoes

[Kujtesë, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.75]


The broken vase
Grows cold
A solitude of petals
Opened in glass
Have withered in my hands,
However much the splinters of glass may weep
I still don't believe in the sincerity of bloody hands,
Silence is a grave
From which the truth will sprout.

I believe only
In the broken vase.

[Besimi, from the volume Ndodhi në shpirt, Elbasan: Onfuri 1985, p.32]


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