Betim Muço (Albania)


Betim Muço (Albania)

Betim Muço is an Albanian-American writer. He was born in 21 January 1947 in Tirana, Albania, where he received a PhD in physics from the University of Tirana and later specialized in seismology. His first poems appeared in the Albanian literary press as early as 1967. Since then he published more than 25 books of poetry, short stories, novels and essays, winning several literary awards in Albania and abroad. Many of his poems and short stories have been translated and published in anthologies, journals and magazines in different countries. During his literary activity in Albania Betim Muço was a well-known writer of many song lyrics and also a distinguished translator. Muço has rendered into Albanian the works of Graham Greene, Saul Bellow, Yukio Mishima, Rainer Maria Rilke, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Alice Munro and many international poets. In addition to his very rich and unique literary work, he is a well-accomplished and published Balkan researcher in the field of earth science, having led or participated in many international science projects. Since 2001 he lived in Maryland, USA, where he continued his research, literary writings and publishing activity until he passed away in 15 January 2015. His last novel “The stars are quite close”- published postmortem, won the award of the best book of the year in the Tirana 2017 Book Fair. A school carries his name in his native city of Tirana, Albania. Muço was married and has three children.
I’ll say all that’s unsaid
I’ll sing all the unsung songs
And gather all the pebbles
Of thought
To pave the road
Life travels on
I’ll stop time
And let it rest for a while
Sharing a cigarette with me
While the sun above us
Is shocked
Like never before
I’ll spread massive flags
The rainbows of immortality
Over the horizons
And I’ll lead people
To cheer their own names
I’ll step on the entire pathless path
Of man
And I’ll make from death itself
A beautiful kite
To drift away
Into endless skies
Hey, who’s ready
To come along with me
Mute ancient witnesses
Deep in a universe where the magic of matter is made
With your Cyclopean eyes
You saw how Earth’s inhabitants grew
How we evolved and stood up on our feet
Turning grunts into speech
Paws into hands
How fire amazed us
And the wheel
And the secrets of atoms
I am asking you, stars
Have we humans become so perfect
To be able to see our imperfections?
Autumn leaves
Autumn leaves fall
Displaying their eternal decency
So did they fall
When men began to give names to things
When Christ wandered in Galilee
Astonishing the crowds
When Shakespeare was writing Hamlet
And Newton was discovering gravity
When soldiers crossed borders
And crossed back again
Even in the first grade
When our eyes were fixed on the main gate
To see if our mothers were still there
And later when we had dates
And the going-down sun turned into necklaces
On the throats of the girls we loved
No one has been able to break their rhythm
As old as the world
In an endless bewildering cycle
With no regrets, disappointment, or vain guesses
Autumn leaves fall
No groans or sighs
Teaching us the elementary philosophy
Of being temporary
The river
Every day it rushes to freedom
Unceasingly escapes mountains traps
Firing rainbows over the waterfalls
Growing more powerful
Gathering up its orphaned streams
Breaking its way through the wild rocks
Still in the mountain but longing for the plains
Every day it rushes to freedom
As it descends its voice becomes weak
The flat space curbs its leap
It is made filthy from the cities’ garbage
It is in the plain now
Longing for the mountain
Every day it rushes to freedom
When it reaches the sea
It loses its name
No bird can fly
With one wing
You are the other one
No one can run
With one leg
You are the other one
There is no thinking
With half a brain
You are the other half
No love is complete
With one heart
You are the other one
No world could exist
With one self
You are the other one.
Some dreams of my youth
Couldn’t come with me
To this strange world
It was not for them
They lay scattered along the road
Or hanging from the twigs of trees
Like little kerchiefs
I went away
There was no time to lose
I look back and see them
In fragments of other dreams
Like loves that were never mine
Spring will come
Spring will come
I spoke last night with streams of water
I put my hand under their icy surface
And felt their warmth
Spring will come
The trees whispered to me like old friends
And the grass seeds under the cold mud
I saw how the blood of the earth was boiling
Spring will come
The bread of tomorrow sleeps under the pollen of snow
Icy mountaintops and murky skies
I heard in the air the distant wings of birds
Spring will come
Why are you still alive
If you don’t believe it?
And a time comes
We often try to push away
The difficult moments
Scared and tired
We don’t want to stand
Before things we don’t like
And it’s punishing
But there comes a time
In the dusk of life
When you feel yourself longing until it hurts
For even the worst moment
Of your life
Remember me laughing
Everyone comes at last to death
Rich or poor
Boisterous or quiet,
My friends grant me a request:
Remember me laughing
I have been harsh and rough
Maybe presumptuous
I have been naive, immature,
My friends grant me this request:
Remember me laughing
I never did all I wanted to do
I never have been as I wanted to be
I dreamed of titans but struggled with insects,
My friends, I’m making this one request:
Remember me laughing.
Taken from the Collection of Poems “The lost kites”, EPH, USA 2012, Translated by Marta Muço

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