Ndre Mjeda bridges the gap between late nineteenth-century Rilindja
culture and the dynamic literary creativity of the independence
period. Mjeda was born on 20 November 1866 in Shkodra
and, like so many other Gheg writers of the period, was educated
by the Jesuits . Influential in his upbringing were Jesuit writer
Anton Xanoni (1863-1915) and Franciscan poet Leonardo De Martino
(1830-1923). The Society of Jesus sent the young Mjeda abroad
for studies and training. He spent an initial three months in
the spring of 1880 in the village of Cossé-le-Vivien near Laval
in the west of France and thereafter attended a college at the
Carthusian monastery of Porta Coeli north of Valencia, Spain,
where he studied literature. In 1883, we find him in Croatia studying
rhetoric, Latin and Italian at a Jesuit institution in Kraljevica
on the Dalmatian coast. From 1884 to the beginning of 1887, he
trained at a college run there which was run by the Gregorian
University of Rome, and in 1887 transferred to another Gregorian
college in Chieri southeast of Turin where he remained until the
end of that year.
It was during
these years that Ndre Mjeda began writing verse in Albanian, including
the melancholic and much-read poem Vaji i bylbylit (The
nightingales lament), published in 1887 in the booklet Scahiri
Elierz (The honorable poet), expressing his longing for
his native Albania. Also of this period is the poem Vorri i
Skanderbegut (Scanderbeg s grave). The theme of the
exiled Albanian yearning nostalgically for his homeland under
the Turkish yoke was nothing unusual in Rilindja literature, in
particular in the decade following the defeat of the League of
Prizren, and many of his other poems are devoted to such nationalist
themes. In Mjedas verse, however, we sense the influence not
only of the Rilindja culture of the age, but also that of his
mentor Leonardo De Martino , the Scutarine Catholic poet whose
refined 442-page bilingual verse collection LArpa di un italo-albanese
(The harp of an Italo-Albanian) had appeared in Venice in 1881.
An equally important component in Mjedas verse were the contemporary
poets of Italy: the patriotic Giosuč Carducci (1835-1907), the
pensive Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) and the sensuous Gabriele
DAnnunzio (1863-1938), as well as the Latin literature of classical
From 1887 to 1891,
Mjeda taught music at the College of Marco Girolamo Vida in Cremona
on the River Po, the city of composer Claudio Monteverdi and of
Antonio Stradivari. There and in Soresina he continued writing
verse and at the same time devoted himself to the translation
of religious literature. In 1888, the Propaganda Fide in Rome
published his Jeta e sceitit sc Gnon Berchmans (The life of St
John Berchmans ) about a Jesuit saint from Brabant, and in 1892
T perghjamit e Zojs Bekume (Imitation of the Holy Virgin)
translated from Spanish. In later years he was to publish a translation
of the Katekizmi i madh (The great catechism) in three volumes,
Historia e shejtė (Sacred history), and a life of St
Aloysius of Gonzaga .
From 1891, Mjeda
studied for a couple of years at the theological faculty of a
Gregorian college in Kraków in Catholic Poland. In 1893, we find
the poet in Gorizia on the Italian-Slovene border and in the following
year back in Kraljevica where he taught philosophy and philology
and served as librarian at the Gregorian college. He was subsequently
appointed professor of logic and metaphysics. It was in 1898 that
a conflict is said to have broken out among the Jesuits of Kraljevica,
apparently concerning their loyalties to Austria-Hungary and the
Vatican. The exact details of the scandal are not known, but Ndre
Mjeda was somehow involved and was promptly expelled or resigned
that year from the Jesuit Order. Mjeda was a member of the Literary
Commission set up in Shkodra on 1 September 1916 under the Austro-Hungarian
administration, and from 1920 to 1924 he served as a deputy in
the National Assembly. After the defeat of Fan
Noli s June Revolution
and the definitive rise of the Zogu dictatorship at the end of
1924 he withdrew from politics and served thereafter as a parish
priest in Kukės,
a village between Shkodra and Shėngjin. From 1930, he taught Albanian
language and literature at the Jesuit college in Shkodra,
where he died on 1 August 1937.
in particular his collection Juvenilia, Vienna 1917 (Juvenilia),
is noted for its classical style and for its purity of language.
It is probably no coincidence that the title of this work for
which Mjeda is best remembered is the same as Giosuč Carducci
s lyric volume Iuvenilia which was published almost half a century
earlier. Mjedas Juvenilia includes not only original poetry but
also adaptations of foreign verse by Tommaso Grossi (1790-1853),
Giuseppe Capparozzo (1802-1848), Charles Wolfe (1791-1823) and
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). A second cycle of poetry
begun by Mjeda was to be devoted to the ancient cities of Illyria:
Lissus (Lezha), Scodra ( Shkodra), Dyrrachium
(Durrės) and Apollonia (Pojan). However, only the first
two parts of this cycle ever saw the light of day. Lissus, composed
of twelve sonnets, appeared in May 1921 in the Franciscan monthly
Ylli i Dritės (The day-star), and Scodra was published posthumously
Pėrmbi za qė lshon
gjuha shqipe m'shungullon,
pėrmbi er' qė jep zymbyli,
pa da zemren ma ngushllon.
Ndėr komb' tjera,
ndėr dhena tjera,
ku e shkoj jetėn tash sa mot,
veē pėr ty m'rreh zemra
e mjera e prej mallit derdhi lot.
Nji kto gjuhė
qė jam tue ndie,
jan' tė bukra me themel
por prap' kjo, si diell pa hije,
pėr mue t'tanave iu del.
Ku n'breg t'Cemit
me zbardh, Shqipe, zanin tand,
e ku Drinit a burimi
qė shpėrndahet kand e kand.
Geg' e tosk', malsi,
jan' nji komb, m'u da, s'duron;
fund e maj' nji a Shqipnia
e nji gjuh' t'gjith' na bashkon.
Qoftė mallkue kush
ndėr kto vllazėn shoq me shoq,
kush e dan me flak' e shkrime
ēka natyra vet' pėrpoq.
Por me gjuhė kaq
t'moēme e mjera
si nj'bij' kjo qė pa prind mbet:
pėr t'huej t'mbajshin dhenat tjera,
s't'kishte kush pėr motėr t'vet.
E njat tok' qė
je tue gzue,
e ke zan' tash sa mij' vjet,
Shqiptaria, qė mbet mblue
sot nėn dhe, edhe shqip flet.
O shqipe, o zogjt'
e maleve, kallzoni:
A shndrit rreze lirie n'ato maja;
mbi bjesh' t'thepisuna e n'ograja,
ku del gurra e gjėmon pėrmallshėm kroni?
A keni ndie ndikund,kah
ndėr shkrepa, me ushtue kangėn e saj?
A keni ndie nji kangė tė patravajė?
O shqipe, o zogjt' e maleve, kallzoni!
-- bėrtet gjithkah malsia.
A ka lirim ky dhé qė na shkel kamba,
a veē t'mjerin e mblon anemban' robnia?
Flutro shqipe, flutro kah ēelet lama,
sielliu maleve pėrreth qė ka Shqipnia,
e vėshtroje ku i del lirimit ama.
Por nuk u shuejt edhe, jo, shqiptaria:
Lodhun prej hekrash qė mizori e njiti,
lodhun prej terri ku robnimi e qiti,
shpreson me e zgjue fluturim mėnia.
E kqyre: Ndėr
male po pėrhapet shkėndija
e lirimit t'Atdheut; fshehtas shėtiti
kasoll' pėr kasoll' rreth buneve e soditi
frymė tė re tue zbrazun pėr gjithkah,
hija e Skanderbegut.
Qė ndėr djepa rritin
nanat e Hotit
djelmėnin' ushtore e idhnim n'armikun
nėpėr gji iu qitin.
E nalt, ndėr maja, bukuri mbretnore.
Po shkrihet bora,
Dimni po shkon;
Bylbyl i vorfėn,
Pse po gjimon?
Me duhi t'vet;
Bylbyl i vorfėn,
Ēou mos rri shkret.
Blerim e mbėloj;
Livadhi e pema
Ndėr pyje e orgaja,
N'ma t'mirin vend,
Me rreze dielli
Po e gėzon gjith'kend.
E tuj gjimue
Shikon rreth e rreth
Nji prrue qi veret
Rrjedh nėpėr gjeth.
A ēil kafazi,
Ndėr pyje e orgaja,
Kerkush ma hovin
Atje s'ta pret,
Me zeher haejen
Kerkush s'ta qet.
Kafaz ke qiellin,
E gjith ku t'rreshket
Ke me gjet mel,
Njajo buk t'del.
E kur t'zitė e
ndėr prroje pi,
Te njato prroje
Qi ti vetė di.
Tash pa frigė ēerdhen
E ban ndoj lis;
Nuk je si'i nieri
Qi nuk ka fis
E ur t'vin zhegu,
Kur dielli shkon,
Ti ke me kėndue
Si ke zakon.
Rreth e rreth gjindja
Me t'ndie rri;
Prej asi vendit
Dahen me zi.
A ēilė kafazi,
Nder pyje e ograja,
Nder zamakė nga;
Ku qeshet kopshti,
Idhnim mos mba.
Po shkrihet bora,
Bylbyl i vorfen ,
Pse po gjimon?