Arshi Pipa

(1920-1997)

Biography of Arshi Pipa

Arshi Pipa poet

Arshi Pipa was an Albanian-American philosopher, writer, poet and literary critic.

He attended school in Shkodër until 1938. Pipa received a PhD in philosophy at the University of Florence in 1942. After he completed his studies he was a teacher of Italian language in different schools in Albania.
He was imprisoned for ten years (1946–1956) in Communist Albania because he antagonized the communist regime with his recitation of a verse from a "Song of the Flea" by Goethe found in a translation of Faust. After he was released from the prison (he was sentenced for 20 years of prison, but after amnesty it was cut to ten) he escaped to Yugoslavia and lived in Sarajevo during the period 1957–1959. In 1959 he emigrated to United States where he was first a teacher at Adelphi College, Georgetown University, Columbia University, UC Berkeley and then in 1966 to 1989 he was a professor of Italian literature at the University of Minnesota, Department of Romance Languages.
Pipa died in Washington DC on July 20, 1997.

The first poetry Pipa composed in late 1930', Lundërtarë [Seamen], was published in Tirana in 1944. When he was in prison he thought out and actually wrote some parts of his best known collection of poems Libri i burgut [The Prison Book], published in 1959. His epic poem Rusha (1968), composed in 1955 during Pipa's imprisonment, describes love between Albanians and Serbs in the late 14th century.
Pipa claimed that unification of Albanian language was wrong because it deprived Albanian language of its richness at the expense of Gheg. He called unified literary Albanian language a "monstrosity" produced by Tosk communist leadership which military conquered Anti-Communist north Albania and imposed their Tosk Albanian dialect on the Ghegs.

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Farewell

Come and say farewell, my sisters,
Smile and give no sign of grief,
At the doorway in high spirits
Come and wave a handkerchief.

With a head scarf dry your eyes now,
Wipe them near a burning tallow,
Fling it to the wind, my sisters,
Watch as it becomes a swallow.

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