Sulejman Naibi
| Saturday, 07.07.2007, 12:14 PM |  


Berat in 1813, by Charles Cockerelle
Sulejman Naibi, also known as Sulejman Ramazani, was a gifted Albanian poet of the Muslim tradition, a contemporary of Nezim Frakulla. He was born in Berat where he lived most of his life and died in 1771 [1185 A.H.]. Little else is known of him except that he got married in Elbasan and is thought perhaps to have spent some time in Turkey or the Middle East.

Sulejman Naibi is the author of a 'divan' of poetry in Albanian, a manuscript of which survived in Fier until 1944, but was then unfortunately lost. As a result, we know Sulejman Naibi's verse only from the few poems which have surfaced in other manuscripts or which have survived orally in central Albanian folk songs, such as Mahmudeja e stolisurë (Mahmude, Well-Adorned One). Among the little of this eight and twelve-syllable verse which has been published, we find delicate lyrics of a certain metrical precision. Naibi is the first Muslim poet to devote verse to the beauty of women, most other poetry in the Oriental tradition being composed by men to the beauty of young men. Naibi's language is less imbued with orientalisms than that of Nezim Frakulla.


Mahmudeja, Well-Adorned One

In a dream now shattered, ruined,
In a dream I fell in love with
Mahmudeja, well-adorned one,
Wretched me, in my affliction.

Yes, this lust and human passion
Will a living lad demolish,
Mahmudeja Sulejmani
Down the lane flits, sparking envy.

Well-attired she's like no other
In her waistcoat made of velvet,
Smiling, charming apparition,
What a figure, Mahmudeja!

[fragment from Mahmudeja e stolisurë, mid 18th century. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]


Down those soft pink cheeks do trickle
Drops of sweat like sweet rose-water,
Have perhaps carnations swollen
On those lips of yours, like rose buds?

You from lofty spheres descended
Like a houri to this garden,
In the shadow of your fairness
From the ground have sprung up flowers.

And your sleepy, drooping eyelids
With a thousand words do whisper,
No one e'er will understand them
Without passion for your spirit.

When I glimpsed you in your beauty
With your golden locks, I marvelled,
Fell in love there in a twinkling,
As if from the grave reviving.

I was born a second time there
Of my tender, loving mother,
Where the sun and moon are rising
'Midst the tombstones and the darkness.

From the northlands one fine morning
Did you proffer songs and music,
Oh, you precious gift from Allah,
Wait for me, your faithful lover.

With your radiance and ardour
And the burning of your glances,
I am baffled and bewildered,
Like a candle melt and vanish.

Winter's passed and spring has blossomed
And your grace has turned to beauty,
Oh Naibi, how you stammer
Now that Ali stands before you.

[Nevruzi, mid 18th century. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

Consumed with Passion

What say roses when they see you:
Are we fragrant? 'tis the moonlight?
The poor nightingale is baffled,
Stops the song that it is singing,

Like a lad consumed with passion,
Does it see you or the roses?
For your breast emits their fragrance
And your cheeks their hue resemble.

Like the hyacinth your hair coils,
You've the fairness of this garden,
Thus the nightingale's not baffled
If he leaves the rose to court you,

Sings your red lips, saffron-tasting,
Sings your forehead ever shining,
Sings your tender, braid-like eyebrows,
Radiant eyes and arrow lashes,

Sings your fair nape and your shoulders,
Sings your limbs all silver shining,
Sings your breast and those two cupfuls
Which the whole world dares not mention.

For the love which you have hidden
Like the twilight after darkness,
Seeing all these things, Naibi
Will not fail to sing your praises.

[Bandilli i djegurë, mid 18th century. Translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie]

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