Mars 14, 2009
The word symbolic and art of contrasts
The word symbolic and art of contrasts
Ndue Ukaj, Sweden
Poetry is the most universal form of poetic communication where ideas and figures fulfill the poetic harmony and intention. They walk side by side and build an Olympus of perceptions and feelings for the beautiful and the ugly, for the amiable and useful, for the tragic and happiness. In most beautiful forms the poet, like an oracle inspired creates perceptions to his own universal perceptions through his language as a poetic specialty. This universal form of communication of the message of the artistic word, eternity of ideas, in harmony with the poetic system functionalizes the multifold esthetic and idealistic forms. Through perceptions and particular world the poet descends the circles of hell, searches with the sense of the creator through the purgatory constantly aiming for the road to Paradise, to the eternity where the Poetic Art melts with a series of lecturing proceedings using numerous tropes and metaphors, symbols and comparisons, contrasts and paradoxes always in function of realizing a literary catharsis. And, these poetic characteristics are found in Jeton Kelmendi’s poetry in his collection “Breath” which the poet is presenting for the English-speaking reader. As Horace said in his “Poetic Art”, “poets should bring something useful or entertaining, or say amiable and useful things”, Kelmendi’s poetry mingles in itself original poetic features bringing the amiable and useful to the reader with a cultivated style and dense language of depicted symbols never burdening his poetry. His poetry, lyrical discourse, or “an inner mimesis of poetic sound and images aimed at becoming a thematic modus: (Northrop Frye) in Kelmendi’s poetry as well. This thematic modus featuring his poetics is built of elaborated figures through sweet verse of an internal rhythm and impulsive tonality often filled with interjections or some single letter carrying expression – elements that give his poetry a specific and original poetic dimension.
Jeton Kelmendi belongs to the younger generation of the Albanian literature, a generation that has experienced the most tragic mess in the Balkans and which is today moving alongside contemporary trends of literature carrying over their should a bitter past which Kelmendi brings to life through his rich imagination and dynamic poetic discourse. During this period he has debuted with several very qualitative collections of poetry highly assessed by both critics and literary public. His collection of poetry “Fryma” (“Breath”) offers to the poetry-lovers a poetic universe of Albanian literary tradition, a beautiful set of poetic word, rich in existential themes as its poetic pivot with multifaceted expressive forms and nuances mingling with other themes and motives. His poetry communicates with the past, present and future. Above all, it communicates with the being of literature as one may read in the poetry “A word measuring trial” where poetry wages its own battle: “Somewhere amidst the light’s darkness/ Someone is missing the word”. This model of poetic of poetic discourse is articulated by Kelmendi in his next poem “Our arrival on parchment” where fatherland and poet identify first of all by a joint call on the insecurity and paradoxes which a misty future brings about as his country, and the Balkans generally, remain regions of paradoxes and continued stirrings, horrors that are most of all felt by artists. Therefore the author cries out: “They seem as dreams and realities/ Water and bread of anti-human” (My tomorrow code). And, this philosophy of creation remains a poet’s curiosity in order for him to understand “Where the border crosses/ Between sadness and joy/” (Drama, First Act), for the fact that this border, poetic by all means, plays an important role in this poetic collection through a contrast of ideas, figures and poetic symbols in order to transform sadness and joy into art. And, also for the fact that thus “Lyrics had its shadow bone whitened/ While waiting for the rites of dust”, and the song beings its powerful life.
Kelmendi’s poetry is characterized by a specific perception of beauty beneath of a sub layer of perceptions for its numerous categories: the beauty that the art of poetry brings, for the girl and love, for the country and history, like in the poetry “A Moment”, where the poet using symbols and comparisons, through concise lines, rhythm, synthesizes the most beautiful forms of lines: “If I were rain/ Tonight/ I’d accidentally drip/On your cheek/But/A slow dripping drop/Looking at you straight”. Generally, Kelmendi’s poetic verse is laconic with emotional and semantic expressivity. Its poetic structure is built over paradox as a particular feature. Through it the poet preserves the substance of the idea aimed at the eternity of word with inspiring poetic calls. The dominant poetic discourse of this collection is deeply lyrical. The typos of themes and motives go around a national pivot, woman and love, mediation about art, artistic word. The poetic communicates sadly with history, as for example in the poet “Illyrian”, in the lines: “It surpasses all/For the sake of the word”, as his country cannot be measured with any form, and the next line of connotative meaning closes a century-old cry: “My fatherland of God that gave me my name”. This, above all, for the fact that the poet’s Winter remains a mad codex. Fatherland topics are formed through forms of pain in the poetry “Morph” with lines: “Neither thirst nor hunger/ In the plain of a word/ Fatherland/ How many pastured and drank… How much silence assailed/ Disgust infuriated us for you nostalgia”. One of the very interesting poems is the one dedicated to Ibrahim Rugova, where the poet sings passionately to the president’s figure, artist and highlander, the symbol of Albanians for decades, and model of writer: “Dream on? And pray for Dardania/ A winter of solitude has fallen… Everything came with the tear? Grand Year/ Day of departure” (Winter of Big Departure, to Ibrahim Rugova). Kelmendi’s poetry is an associative one. It both evokes perceptions and creates. The poet walks on with his verse in order to understand the corners of the world; he is at the edge of paradoxes even when perhaps “an evil hour has set” (After recognition), and his carries in his soul the power of poetry in order to challenge and hence bring triumph for the word: “Tell me something about the smokeless fire/ From now on/ Your coffee awaits us/ And my line of shiver” (After recognition). More powerfully, this poetic tendency is articulated in his highly values poem “Madam Word and Mister Thought”, where the poet contemplates about the philosophy of creation with a modern poetic affinity of transformation of thought from paradox to contrast and from contrast to an amiable symbol: “I’ve spoken/ Somewhat differently/ Madam/ But I say/ Don’t get me wrong/ After all these are words of a poet”. Kelmendi’s poetry is consolidated; his verse is free and paradox of thought and contrast of idea become pinpointing features of the lyric: “A time a day came/ so awkward so happy/ Its white and back no one knew” (A bit of history). Or, in another interesting poem “For the amiable glass” where Kelmendi creates outstandingly beautiful lines in a concise style and realized with emotion and inspiration, creating poetic expressivity that reminds one of the great poet Omar Khayam and his emblematic lines of wine and love: “Drink it man/ Your own glass/ The red amiable wine/ Drink it drunkardly/ Bottoms up/ Never leave/ A drop/ To the verse/ Written lonesomely/ Anyway/ You’re not sober, man”. He cultivates this same model of speech in a number of other poems, because love, or ‘the beauty of beauties’, the lass as its personification represents a special topic within the topes and motives underlying the collection: “Tonight the autumn night may be saturated/ The moon fell over the window/ With her goods/ The verse/ I’ll write for you” (Ten and Ten in Tirana). This poetic rhythm develops through powerful gradation in his other two poems, “Whisk” and “Her dream”. Randomly viewed, this collection offers beautiful poetry, an inspired art, where the reader may find basic components of literature, the useful and amiable (Horatio), “It is not clear to me/ Whether to speak or keep silent/ Lyrical like the magic of Helen” (A moment for admiration). The reader has in his hand a book with a beautiful poetic structure, a poetry fed by powerful contrasts permeating him and his poetic being through stormy and tragic years part of which was the author.
Translated by Avni Spahiu