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Intercultural Poetry Anthology



Martin Camaj

A Bird Languishes

The Canon of Birds says:
Every bird shall stretch its wings and perish on the grass,
Punishment for having plied the forbidden border
Between heaven and earth.

A bird languishes upon the lawn, at death’s door,
The leaves in the trees are
Unreachable birds and companions
Frolicking in the sunlight.

In the distance are two millstones pounding
At one another, as is their wont,


Regina Derieva

I Don’t Feel At Home Where I Am

I don’t feel at home where I am,
or where I spend time; only where,
beyond counting, there’s freedom and calm,
that is, waves, that is, space where, when there,
you consist of pure freedom, which, seen,
turns that Gorgon, the crowd, to stone,
to pebbles and sand . . . where life’s mean-
ing lies buried, that never let one
come within cannon shot yet.
From cloud-covered wells untold
pour color and light, a fete
of cupids and Ledas in gold.
That is, silk and honey and sheen.
That is, boon and quiver and call.
That is, all that lives to be free,
needing no words at all.


Constantine P. Cavafy

The City

You said: «I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.

How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.»
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

2. Love


Flutura AÇKA


I have forgotten how to sing of love

Since that moment when
It betrayed me
With its silence.


Marina Tsvetaeva

You who loved me with the falseness

You who loved me with the falseness
Of truth – and the truth of lies.
You who loved me-beyond
Anything!-Over the edge!
You who loved me beyond
Time-Right hand, wave!
You love me no more:
The truth in five words.


Nikephoros Vrettakos

Without You

Without you doves

wouldn’t find water.

Without you God

wouldn’t switch on the light in his fountains.

An apple tree sows its blossoms

in the wind; in your apron

you bring water from the sky

the glow of wheat, and above you

a moon of sparrows


  1. Memory


Lindita Arapi


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


Alexander Pushkin

The Name

What is my name to you? ‘T will die:
a wave that has but rolled to reach
with a lone splash a distant beach;
or in the timbered night a cry …

‘T will leave a lifeless trace among
names on your tablets: the design
of an entangled gravestone line
in an unfathomable tongue.

What is it then? A long-dead past,
lost in the rush of madder dreams,
upon your soul it will not cast
Mnemosyne’s pure tender beams.

But if some sorrow comes to you,
utter my name with sighs, and tell
the silence: «Memory is true –
there beats a heart wherein I dwell.»


Andreas Embiricos

Winter Grapes

They took away her toys and her lover. Well then she bowed her head and almost died. But her thirteen destinies like her fourteen years smote the fleeing calamities. No one spoke. No one ran to protect her against the overseas sharks which had already cast an evil shadow over her like a fly staring with malice on a diamond or a land enchanted. And so this story was heartlessly forgotten as always happens when a forest ranger forgets his thunderbolt in the woods.


  1. Nature



Autumn on parade

Autumn in nature and autumn in our faces.
The sultry breeze enfeebles, the glowering sun
Oppresses the ailing spirit in our breasts,
Shrivels the life trembling among the twigs of a poplar.
The yellow colours twirl in the final dance,
(A frantic desire of leaves dying one by one).
Our joys, passions, our ultimate desires
Fall and are trampled in the autumn mud.

An oak tree, reflected in the tears of heaven,
Tosses and bleeds in gigantic passion.
«To live! I want to live!» – it fights for breath,
Piercing the storm with cries of grief.

The horizon, drowned in fog, joins in
The lamentation. In prayer dejected fruit trees
Fold imploring branches – but in vain, they know.
Tomorrow they will die… Is there nowhere hope?

The eye is saddened. Saddened, too, the heart
At the hour of death, when silent fall the veins
And from the grave to the highest heavens soar
Despairing cries of long-unheeded pain.

Autumn in nature and autumn in our faces.
Moan, desires, offspring of poverty,
Groan in lamentation, bewail the corpses,
That adorn this autumn among the withered branches.


Anna Ahmatova

The Sentence

And the stone word fell
On my still-living breast.
Never mind, I was ready.
I will manage somehow.

Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again–

Unless . . . Summer’s ardent rustling
Is like a festival outside my window.
For a long time I’ve foreseen this
Brilliant day, deserted house.


Odysseus Elytis


Ardor for death so enflamed me that my radiance returned to the sun,

And it sends me back into the perfect syntax of stone and air.

Well then, he whom I sought I am.

O flaxen summer, prudent autumn,

Slightest winter,

Life pays the obol of an olive leaf

And in a night of fools once again confirms with a small cricket

The lawfulness of the Unhoped-for.


  1. Poetry


Ismael Kadaret


How did you find your way to me?
My mother does not know Albanian well,
She writes letters like Aragon, without commas and periods,
My father roamed the seas in his youth,
But you have come,
Walking down the pavement of my quiet city of stone,
And knocked timidly at the door of my three-storey house,
At Number 16.

There are many things I have loved and hated in life,
For many a problem I have been an ‘open city’,
But anyway…
Like a young man returning home late at night,
Exhausted and broken by his nocturnal wanderings,
Here too am I, returning to you,
Worn out after another escapade.

And you,
Not holding my infidelity against me,
Stroke my hair tenderly,
My last stop,


To a poet

How did you catch my eye so suddenly,
Together with the wind, the flowers, the trees,
Together with the song, the river, the sea,
Together with hope, pain and laughter?

You caught my eye so suddenly,
Or were you there from the start?


Regina Derieva

A Poem 

A poem—
is just one more
scrap of paper
that has sailed off the table
in a bottle
with a cry for help.


Yannis Ritsos

Necessary Explanations

There are certain stanzas – sometime entire poems-

whose meaning not even I know. It is what I do not know

that holds me still. You were right to ask me. But do not ask me.

I do not know, I tell you:

Two parallel lights

from the same center. The sound of water

falling in winter from an overbrimming drain pipe,

or the sound of a waterdrop as it falls

from a rose in a watered garden

slowly, slowly on a spring evening

like a bird’s sobbing. I do not know

what this sound means; even so, I accept it.

Whatever I do know, I’ve clarified for you. I’ve not been


But these, too, add to our lives.

I would notice,

as she slept, how her knees formed an angle on the bedsheet-

It was not only a matter of love. This corner

was a ridge of tenderness, and the fragrance

of the bedsheet, of cleanliness, and of spring supplemented

that inexplicable thing I sought –in vain again- to explain to



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