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Poem: In memory, Arshi Pipa

by Patricia (Tishy) Nugee


These beech leaves have almost not quite caught fire

With colours snatched from sunsets over Shala.

Bright flaming trees pressed flat between green firs

Lead the gaze up to where the clear, blue canopy of air

Flings clouds to cowl the peaks and spicy hills,

And helped by herbs and the honey hunting bees,

Encloses like a hive the sweetness of the world.

I do not know this country over well.

Yet, when my chariot returns, it shall be here,

To these high altitudes that stretch the eyes’ vision

Towards the east,

And set my heart dancing, as at a feast.


Arshi Pipa (photo: Tishy Nugee)


Arshi Pipa was a poet, academic and literary critic. He was born in Shkodër in 1920. In 1942, he was awarded a degree in Philosophy from the University of Florence. On his return to Albania, he taught Italian until he was arrested by the communists in 1946. Arshi spent ten years in prisons and labour camps in Durrës, Gjirokastër and Burrel. When he was released in 1956, he escaped to Yugoslavia and then went to America where he eventually became Professor of Italian at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He died in 1997.

 

Tishy Nugee met Arshi in London in the 1970s. Arshi was interested in Tishy’s collection of antiquarian books about Scanderbeg, and the two became good friends. Tishy remembers Arshi as a kind man who was passionate about Albanian history. Their friendship inspired her poem.

 



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