By Gustavo Vega Mansilla
Translated from Spanish: Peter Tase
Jeton Kelmendi has written a poem, “Thoughts of the Soul” which says: “Making hundreds of paths…”, that brought me to the thought of a deep sense of a path as a metaphor of the process of life, a life revived in the poetic word. A path that is made while walking, as the writer Antonio Machado said “Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, nothing more; walker, there is no path, it is made by walking. But a path that leads … Where?
The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that appears for millenniums on diverse places such diverse as Crete, India, in Celtic culture, Scandinavia, Russia, in different places of the Americas … It is inscribed in rocks, gems, soils, ceramics …
And it can be understood as a metaphor for life, the soul’s journey towards the light, towards the absolute…and towards You of Myself, and also, towards the silence; with all its challenges, transformations, depths and discoveries.
Well, Kelmendi observes this path as a “Way of thoughts” -2010 -, and as the confluence of “Two eyes that melt”. A Great joy “A Half story, half legend,” he says, which is “Beyond the impossible.” But there is a paradox in this way towards You of Self, the poet searches the word – “Don’t remain silent tomorrow” -. But “Whenever you are silent, / talk even more.” Silence, final silence, eloquent silence that have pursued for centuries the mystics of different cultures, and the old Zen masters. Precisely, in the poem entitled “The Mona Lisa” explains to the audience – who has not asked for the mystery of Mona Lisa? – is silence. “She is a living silence/ Beauty / … / An existential respiration/ For the mystery. Of course, while saying this, we ought not to forget that, in 2002, Kelmendi published a collection of poems entitled “Beyond Silence.”
The road has to do with distance and also with time; therefore Jeton Kelmendi in “Bridging Distances” is revealed against distances, while he is protesting against duality because duality is distance. “Until our individuality disappears, / So will our time.” A Chaos between I and thy, the “I / You “: “Living away, you and my thoughts. / Here, I and your thoughts. But beyond thought and desire, the reality-the Freudian principle of reality that tends to prevail – at the end always prevails: “Me and you, my dear, / We have a world / completely different.”
We said challenges, changes, depths and discoveries. Sometimes the poet’s voice – just as in “Baptism of the Soul” -seems captivating, nailed as Christ. This is why a poet is discovered – the authentic poet is always revealed – and searches …
“Watching the sun ascending over there,” even from his own birth. And disappears “Even farther, beyond”, “on the other side”, even beyond than this “beyond than you”, beyond yourself. In them there is a twist of primitive chaos, as ancient Greeks said, from which everything proceeds, A Chaos of the junction of I-You. Is it a primitive chaos or the last one? “The future is named yesterday. Yesterday/hidden, secret, / which we forgot, and you have to recover” said Pedro Salinas. For what Kelmendi says: “Me and you are jumping / the barriers / and passing on the other side / where the future is waiting.
It is, in this path, labyrinth, road …”With the blood and soul, / behind the others / known many yesterdays – Salinas, dixit – we dealt with a tender poem, almost sweet, almost childish, in which Kemendi reflects on the word” mom” the word – he says -, “the sweetest of all.” A word that he learned in Albanian with its unique sound its particular beauty; even though the denoted level of the word is similar in all languages and there is a semantic correspondence, the connotative meanings that bring the sounds that are always particular and begin to take shape in the maternal womb. It is well known thanks to the latest advances in science in which even the unborn are able to capture sounds, to hear the voice of their mother.
The path notion of Antonio Machado that we referred above, which can be understood as a process metaphor does not necessarily imply the idea of the arrival. Those of us who have experience in pilgrimage places like Santiago de Compostela, or -at the roman Finis Terrae- we know that the most important aspect than arrival is departure, walking … because conquest is not a place that is there, in the distance … it is just ourselves, in which we are from here and there at the same time.
In addition sometimes, arrival period could be disappointing: I remember when I arrived in Santiago de Compostela, after walking for 45 days, I felt a great pity, because the road was finished. In his poem “The Arrival”, Jeton Kemendi tells us that “From the great fear to myself / … / at the end of the departure / we are received by a non-arrival”. This is what is reinforced in another poem, entitled “Depth” when he says: “I still hope the meeting of arrival / That leads to the starting points / … / We are somewhere beyond time.” As of his title “A little later” Kelmendi insists in saying, “I will wait for long / With every departure / With all arrivals”.
But in this intricate path which is life, where you can run into people who are like empty ruins, hollow, or you can find-as Maria Zambrano said referring to the Roman Appian Way (Via Appia) – “a road full of souls, of souls that call you, that whisper in your ears.” An intricate path in which, to the time that you find, stumble and, also forgetting something-always something is dying from oblivion. Therefore Kelmendi in “Below the Shadow of Memory” reminds us: “I would say something forgotten / … / Forgetfulness becomes increasingly older.” But Kelmendi says without giving up some hope: “At the foot of the oak dried by the sun / I am waiting for you.” Hope, optimism, that already appeared reflected in the title of “Century of Promises” with which Jeton Kelmendi was widely recognized for the first time as the prestigious poet of the year 1999.