Migjeni in English

Milosh Gjergj Nikola is a private favourite for many, perhaps because he speaks to deep and very personal feeling rather than the general and patriotic. He's a favourite for Robert Wilton too, and here's a selection of translations.

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Two lips

Two reddened lips,
two flames of desire,
that swallowed my heat
and, with my joy spent,
like a phantasm went
into some better, other world...

Two lips of blood-fire,
two flames of desire,
that swallowed the heat
from my lips when they met -
reason undermined,
heart deaf and blind,
poisoned my mind -
and fled, no word behind...

Two reddened lips,
the fatal beauty
of a sorceress queen
who took from me spring,
who cut my heart's string,
and who wrenched from me joy...

Those two reddened lips,
and two tears of mine,
were the marks of my pain
of beauty's hot blast
of the love that held me fast
of my young innocence past.

In our country
there are rather
sorry-looking banners flapping
… and no-one can say if
this is a state
really trying to create
something new-born.

Somewhere behind
the banners
you can find grey men
desperately trying
alchemy, a death-defying
effort to turn hope into glory,
to turn huff and puff into magic!
But all that we see
(and this is a little tragic)
Is merely a flea.

This farce has shattered
the joy of that February night
and, as if out of spite,
we crumbled.
Over the hunched men in cafés
And the chilly girls on Nënë Terezë
the banners flap and droop
looking rather sorry.

Scandalous Song

A nun so pale, who as well as the sins of the world
bore on her own weary shoulders my sins too
- on shoulders turned waxen, as if at the last kiss of a god -
was glimpsed, like an angel in streets I thought I knew.

A nun so pale, cold as the slab on the grave,
with ash-coloured eyes, like the ash when passion's fire has burned down to its embers,
with thin red lips - two cords restraining her sighs -
is frozen in my memory, a cold memory long-remembered.

From prayer (sincerely!) she comes, and to prayer she does return...
Between her eyes, her lips, her fingers: the prayers sleep everywhere.
Without her prayers, the world - who knows - how would it fare?
Although they haven't, her prayers, yet brought it the morning.

Oh nun so pale, bearing love for the saints,
burning with ecstasy before them, like the candle in your cell,
revealing yourself to them... I mean no good to the saints:
Don't pray for me; I want stroke by stroke to drag you to hell.

I and you, o nun, two ends of a rope:
two forces each trying to pull the other their way -
the struggle is bitter, and no-one knows how it ends -
and so let the rope strain, and let us play.


For some days
I have seen quite clearly
how from the suffering my eyes are swollen now,
wrinkles reaching down to my face from my brow,
and how my smile has turned bitter...
... and I'm feeling
how my mornings
are no longer mornings ripe with work
or development, but dragged out day by day
from a life that can't be endured.
Bit by bit I am seeing
how life is betraying/ xing with betrayal
each of my senses
one by one
and grinds me
and nothing is left
that I can recognize
of the joy I had
I didn't know, o life,
how terrible
is your fist
which squeezes
without mercy.
I see in the mirror
how from the suffering my eyes are swollen now,
wrinkles reaching down to my face from my brow,
and soon I will become
an old flag sagging
grown ragged
in the struggles of life

We show our consolation only in tears...
Our inheritance from all these years
is misery... because within the womb
of the Universe our world is a tomb,
where mankind are condemned to sneak like snakes,
and their will as if squeezed in the fist of a giant breaks.
- One eye glittering with distilled drops of the deepest pain
glimmers from far across the vale of tears,
and sometimes an instinctive pulse of frustrated thought
flashes out across the spheres
seeking an outlet for anger overwrought.
But the head sags, and the sorrowing eye is hid,
and a solitary tear squeezes through the lid,
rolls down and off the face, a single drop of rain;
and from the tiny raindrop of that tear, a man is born again.
And each such man must take his fate in his own hands,
hoping for the smallest victory, and seek out distant lands;
where all the roads are laid with thorns and on every side walled in
by gravestones all besmeared with tears and lunatics who, silent, grin.


They're floating, the mosques and churches, across our senseless eyes,
and prayers without taste or meaning are rebounding between their walls;
and by these prayers the heart of God remains unmoved,
but beats on regardless, among the clangs and cries.

Magnificent mosques and churches, and on the land a curse...
The bells of spire and minaret up there above our wretched homes have tolled...
The voice of the priest and the hoxha, in one degenerate verse...
O what a perfect vision, and one millennium old!

They're floating, the mosques and churches, across the believers' prayers.
The muezzin's call is confused with the clang of the bell.
Blessedness blazes above the priest's cowl and among the hoxha's white hairs.
O, what beautiful angels before the gate of hell!

Above the thousand year-old castle, circles the sickly crow;
even its wings hang forlorn - the hopes abandoned that once we dreamed -
with desperate shrieks it cries its grief for the life lost long ago,
when the thousand year-old castle like a bauble contentedly gleamed.

The Sons of the new-born age

We the Sons of the new-born age
who've left our elders in their sacred cage
we have raised our fists to begin
new battles
and to win...

We the sons of the new-born age
saplings from an earth irrigated with tears
where days of our sweat turned to wasted years,
our soil just crumbs for a foreign foe
whose mad hunger must be paid for in woe

We the sons of the new-born age,
brothers born and raised in rage,
when our last lucky hour
rang out
we knew to say:
We will not lose
in the bloody game of human history,
no! no! we will not lose forever -
we want triumph!
triumph, freedom of thought, and our minds to awake!
We don't want, for the sake
of those old rotten ones who cling to the sacred,
to be flung back into the swamp of madness,
to have to suffer again the songs of sadness,
song of monotony, soulless, confined
to be just an ache, echoing in the human mind.

We the sons of the new-born age,
with our unquenchable glowing ardour,
must in new battles fight ever harder
And sacrifice ourselves to turn the page.

Urban Ballad 

Last night
The heavens and fading stars
Beheld a sorry spectacle:
A shadow... no! - a woman
With pale face and eyes
As black as her life,
With lips withered from weeping,
With wounds on her bedizened bosom, With tattered clothes and a battered soul, A female shadow,
A being of this world,
A starving ghost
Dancing down the main street.
Two steps forward, two steps back, With shoeless feet,
With a broken heart,
Two steps left, two steps right,
With hair turned grey,
With feelings numb.
(Once upon a time,
When she was young,
Her perfumed breasts
Swelled with pride,
She was loved by many a man.
But now?)
Her life is this mad dance
Through the streets of our town, A burnt-out life, a wasted life, Exhausted spirit, broken heart, A voice from the grave, an echo, Dancing late at night
Through the streets of our town.
Song of Youth 

O youth, sing the song you love the best!
Sing the song of yours that bursts within your breast.
Ignite your joyfulness, let its passion explode...
Never quench the song! Let it take flight.
Sing the song, youth, for your beauty's sake...
Catch it, kiss it, fire the song with love,
with your fever, youth...  And let the torrent overwhelm us
the surging sensations unleashed by the song.
Youth, sing the song and laugh like a child
Let the sound of your singing shatter the skies
and let it return to us - for the gods are jealous...
And let us hunger for it, as we hunger for the sun to rise.
Sing the song, youth! Sing with joy so strong it roars!
And laugh, youth, and laugh! The world is yours.

Preface of Prefaces

Day by day the Gods sink low
like evening suns that melt to earth;
by year and by century
no longer can we tell which is god and which is man.
Alone, God has been lurking within humanity’s brains,
his fingers pressed to his temples so deep it pains,
in sign of agitation;
he cries out from the height of frustration:
what, what did I create?
- And what man wants to know is:
is God a creation of his,
or is he himself a creation of God's?
but he sees it really makes no odds
to think upon an idol
who never answers.
No longer can we tell which is god and which is man.
The time has come
when people understand each other well enough
to build the tower of Babylon;
and on top of the top of the tower's a throne to sit on,
and man will get up on it
and he will call:
Oh God! Where are you?
Songs Unsung 

Deep inside myself are sleeping songs unsung
that cannot yet be roused, by neither smile nor tear,
that sleep and wait their moment, when a happier day's begun,
to burst out, to be sung without grief or fear.

Deep inside myself, these songs unconscious lie...
- I am the volcano, alone, asleep, at peace -
but sometime soon the day will come for their immense release
in a thousand shining colours that shall never die.

But will it ever be that my songs shall have their hour?
Or are the scornful centuries only making fun?
No! No! Because freedom begins to flower
and I seem to feel the rays of an (allegorical) sun.

O sleeping songs - my relics undefiled:
still no single other soul has seen you bloom;
only I have enjoyed you - the secret of a child.
I your cradle; I perhaps your tomb.

The Highlander's lament

Oh that I had a fist so strong
as to smash this unmurmuring mountain to its core, 
so even it would know what weakness is:
know the pain in the wounded giant's last roar.

A ghost - a bewildered shadow,
heir to suffering and worn-out hopes -
with the fitful bleats of instinct and
never-resting soul I roam these slopes.

The mountain is silent, though every day
I play a fatal game across its skin -
desperate, just one good morsel more -
and taste futility, see a cosmic grin.

The mountain is silent, and in its silence a smile.
And I suffer, and in suffering I die.
So when, then? Eh? When's my turn to smile?
Perhaps for that to come I have to die.

Oh, that I had a fist so strong as to
crush this mountain, so silent all this while,
as to see it trembling at my forbidden blow,
and then I would know peace, know peace within my smile.