Jul 23, 2014

Migjeni and his pungent verse against injustice

I don't believe in translating poems (even though I would have never been able to read The Flowers of Evil or Wislawa Szymborska if it weren't for translators) and I'm not a good translator either, but there's this beautiful poem from an Albanian poet, Migjeni of the last century that should be known worldwide. 

It's a poem about misery, poverty, that has an imagery that few poems are able to reach. You can see the eyes of the beggars asking for food as you read that poem, and you can see the wretched truth of poverty. He was the most important writer of social causes in Albania, and you can just feel his anguish, anger, revolt and spite, at the reality of poverty and injustice. 

I've always wanted to translate him, because as a second class poet myself, nothing gives me more pleasure than to try and find the words in English, that his imagery portrays in Albanian. 

Here's a short verse I tried to translate from his poem of misery:

The Poem of Misery

Second Verse:

Misery has its own ugly head
It's shameful, disgusting, bad
sealed in it's forehead, written in its eyes
its failed attempt to hide, in its lips there lies
children of ignorance, oblation of contempt
the filthy remains around the dining table
where a merciless hound had his ample dinner
his stomach gorged, always rapacious
misery has no luck, it's clothed in old rags
rags from top to bottom, they're the hope's flags
torn, ripped in promises broken, transgressed


In another poem "The Recital of the Mountaineer" he writes:

I wish I had a powerful fist
to smite the silent mountain in his heart
and watch him tremble from the illicit wrist
so i can laugh and laugh in true delight

But there are better translators than me fortunately, for those who'd like to read and discover foreign poems, Migjeni, should not be missed.