To My Children In Internment by Kole Bib Mirakaj

This poem was written by Kole Bib Mirakaj in July 1947 and published by L’Albanie Libre, under the pseudonym Sokoli. 

The poem is very moving. Kole Bib Mirakaj was a refugee in Rome and at the time he wrote it, his wife Gjina, two sons, Mojs and Leke and extended family, nieces and nephews, were all interned in the prison camp at Tepelene; one of the most horrific camps in Albania’s history, which interned the families of many notable persons who were exiled abroad.

The poem is addressed to his sons. The pain felt by Mirakaj when writing this poem is evident through his words filled with regret and hope. But there is also evidence of the strong love and patriotism he felt for his country, a love which forced him to flee and ensure that the struggle for freedom would continue from abroad, alongside his many close friends and compatriots.

This was the third Easter they spent apart. It is not known whether the family ever saw this poem at the time, most likely not as they were kept isolated from anything outside of their camp, but publishing it in the BKI’s gazette, L’Albanie Libre, was a way to send them a message in the hope that it would make its way to them, as the paper often found its way into Albania through subversive measures. We hope it did.


To My Children in Internment

Shall you remain fatherless with fathers alive?
Why did the Holy Father allow such imperfections?
So many trespasses in life, I do not know
You alive, I alive, this is what sadness means.
Oh no, nothing else did I commit, nothing I knew.
And yet the homeland is above you and I.
Now I cry loudly for this fault and the time passed by
Like you: fatherless with fathers alive and I lost without you.
The patriot’s blood for the tyranny insufficient was,
He wanted to vent his savagery even upon you.
Thousands of others, you, mothers, women and children,
Locked up as hostages in a fortress.
From terror and hunger you suffer, unclothed as you are,
Unknown to the world the weight you carry.
Frightened and ridiculed you are,
As the son of someone in Golgota1.
God knows, we will not meet again while alive!
However it might be written in the stars:
One day we will embrace in heaven,
I love the homeland, I love you more than myself.
Two mothers you have, never forget:
Gjina and Albania, are the mothers for you,
Everything you need they are both there for you.
Love them with your soul, do not forget them.
This is my best wishes for the third Easter,
Which we celebrate apart, you in prison and I away.
This is the uphill Calvary of a martyr,
Which you will follow bravely in the afterlife. 



Note: poem translated by Fjona Dinja