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Anche nell’aldilà mi suonerà

la maledizione all’alba:

“Non avrai mai fortuna, che tu possa morire

per strada, come un cane!”


Ricorderò con timore

il mio dio crudele,

la melagrana spaccata

sotto la luna piena. 


L’anatra che si tuffava nel lago,

i tori insanguinati.

Come un segno lugubre

il richiamo della volpe nel buio.


Gli stornelli che scavavano nella roccia

come se fossero impazziti,

le spine nere che cacciavo con l’ago

dai piedi di mia madre. 

Even in the beyond I will hear

the curse at dawn:

“You will never be lucky. May you die

on the road like a dog.”


I will remember with dread

my cruel god,

the pomegranate split open

under a full moon.


The duck which plunged into the lake,

the bloodied bulls.

Like a funereal sign

the call of the fox in the dark. 


The starlings that dug into the rock

as if they’d gone mad,

the black thorns I took out

of my mother’s feet with a needle. 




Se vedete uno sconosciuto che fugge sotto la pioggia,

il viandante sono io.


Se incontrate un forestiero che vaga nella nebbia,

lo straniero sono io.


Se ascoltate un ubriaco che grida nel crepuscolo,

l’esule disperato sono io.


Se troverete un uomo che parla con se stesso

in cima alla collina buia,

quell’uomo folle sono io.




If you see someone you don’t know running in the rain,

I am the wayfarer.


If you meet a stranger wandering in the mist,

I am the foreigner.


If you hear a drunk shouting in the dusk,

I am the desperate refugee.


If you find a man talking to himself

at the top of a dark hill,

that madman is me. 




                                      ––translated from Italian by Ian Seed




The above poems are taken from Bitter Grass (Shearsman Books, 2020). 



Gëzim Hajdari was born in 1957 in Lushnjë, Albania. As well as working in a variety of jobs, he was intensely involved in journalism and political activism in his native country. In 1992 he fled to Italy. He initially occupied the ruins of an abandoned building in Frosinone near Rome, but was awarded an apartment by the town council after he won the prestigious Eugenio Montale Prize. He writes in both Albanian and Italian, but is perhaps more recognized in his adopted country. His books include collections of essays and travel writing, as well as several volumes of poetry, which have been translated into several languages. Stigmata, translated by Cristina Viti, was his first collection to appear in English, published by Shearsman in 2016, and was runner-up for the 2018 John Florio Prize, awarded by the Society of Authors. 

Ian Seed teaches Creative Writing at the University of Chester, and has lectured in Italian language and literature. He is a poet, critic, fiction writer, editor and translator. He has published a number of collections of poetry and prose, including five full-length collections with Shearsman Books, the most recent of which, New York Hotel (2018), was selected by Mark Ford as a TLS Book of the Year.

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