Ragip Sylaj – Four Poems

Ragip Sylaj lives in Kosovo. He graduated from the University of Pristina. He started writing and publishing since the late 70s. He worked as a teacher, and then as a journalist and editor in the student newspaper “Bota e re” (New World), as well as the daily newspapers “Bota Sot’ (World Today) and “Zëri” (Voice), based in Pristine. Currently he is working as Senior Officer at the Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo. He has published seven poetry collections, five short story books and two books of essays and literary reviews.

Worn out childhood

My childhood had eyes of fire,
longing eyes, and an angel’s glance,
curly hair combed by wind,
a shirt full of patches – a decadent picture,
torn pants ironed by dreams.

My childhood had tiny feet,
often bleeding over the rough rocks of my homeland,
green hide shoes dipped into the mud,
but blood with the earth’s scent flowed in my veins.

There were troubles, beatings, cries in my childhood,
the harsh rebukes of my father, words of advice from my teacher,
a lot of homework for learning by heart, verses, formulas,
snippets from songs and ballads.

My childhood had a face of misery.
It didn’t have Xhita balloons, it played with rag balls.
It dipped the bread in Katana cheese brine.
It used to eat wild pears and drink water from horseshoe tracks,
my torn childhood in my soul’s thorn bushes.

Wise men

They grind, cook and bake the word.
The word grinds, cooks and bakes them.
They are time’s image when dying and reviving,
a thirst never quenched, always burning.

They grind, cook and bake the silence.
The silence grinds, cooks and bakes them.
We neither saw their tears nor their laughter.
Blood’s fire toasts their wrinkles.

They grind, cook and bake the wisdom.
The wisdom grinds, cooks and bakes them.
They found a home in the bosom of the motherland.
The longing for them comes out in our dreams.

Death of the poet

What about the poet criss-crossing the country
seeking a sponsor for his new book,
absorbing himself like a cigarette
inside emptiness and outside solitude?

One day he will seek a sponsor for longing,
a sponsor for his passion and renewal,
and will find only a sponsor for suffering,
for the art kills the poet himself.

Don’t become sponsors of the crazy poet,
of the poet drunk on the human grief.
Let him realise that in crisis situations
he gets prepared for a cruel decease.

The sainted oak tree watered with tears,
rooted in the dream and branched in hope,
his magic is the magic of Dodona.[1]
Is it futurity or only memory?

After the poet’s death the book is published.
It finally overcomes its humiliation,
not reconciling with its epoch,
awaiting its revival and solidification.

Rapture of Eros

When you are a divine woman,
I turn into a rose plant
which graces your breast.

My hand becomes a green leaf
to fondle your bosom.

I turn into a pigeon of peace
to land on your shoulders
giving the news of doomsday.

I foam in your veins
but you don’t feel me.

You are like an internal fire to me,
tempting me like the devil tempted Jesus.

When you are a lightning flash,
why do you burn my immeasurable dream?
Fall on me like divine mercy
to lay kisses on my burning eye’s pupils.

When you are a real breath,
strip yourself from the mystery
and my Eros Arrow sticks in
your devoted heart.

God bless us or kill us.

Translated by Kujtim Morina

[1] The oldest Hellenic oracle possibly dating to the second millennium BCE according to Herodotus situated in Ioannina region, northern Greece, being considered as a temple of ancient Albania as well.  




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