Gjerasim Qiriazi – E para ditë e majit (The First Day of May)

The first day of May, what freshness and beauty,
The hills and the meadows in splendor arrayed!
On the first of the month I too ventured forth,
In the midst of such beauty a stranger!
Wherever I turned fresh wonders I saw,
From the hand of the Lord, who had made them.
Bright birds flitted from tree to tree,
And filled the air with the sound of their song.
In truth, they were praising the Lord of the heavens,
Honoring their Creator with all their hearts
But what first should I see as I entered the wood?
What thought came to mind, in the midst of such beauty?
That this whole earth, blessed by the Lord,
Was indeed made by him to bring light to our minds!
Further on, a crystal stream welled up from the earth,
It made your heart sing as it flowed on its way,
Watering the flowers and every green thing,
Even to look brought peace to one’s soul.
In truth, as my eye took in all this beauty,
The living Lord’s glory was what was revealed.
The world and its wonders, ordered by God,
Are a feast for the wise, delighting their eyes.
With all kinds of good things we have been blessed,
We bear his resemblance, with honour we’re crowned.
But we – so wretched and weak, how soon we forget:
The God who’s in heaven, he alone is our king!
Our mind full of darkness, how often we say:
‘The world and its beauty are empty and vain!’
A thought so base and so utterly futile,
Comes only from those without brain or sense.
Heaven and earth should always remind us
Of the God who’s above, we’re dear to his heart!
How wretched the faithless, of their own selves unsure,
They look to the apes for the start of man’s life!
Their only thought, woe for self and others,
Unaware, the wretches, how terrible their end.
O God who is truth, may we keep this in mind:
What we owe to you, let’s not waste our time!
With all our hearts let’s pay heed to your words,
For the answer to our problems look to you alone.
To seek your loving face every day of our lives:
If we would reign in life, there’s nothing more dear.
Love, friendship – these have their source in God,
Those who find such treasures are so truly blessed.
How happy the wise, who understand life’s aim,
Always on their heart: the other person’s gain.
With joy and with gladness such folk will be crowned,
Their heart of simple purity with the Lord’s entwined.
But from my theme I’ve not wandered,
The first of May I’ve pondered:
All these thoughts, from this day have sprung.
Lord, may Albania’s sons and daughters all
Be held, heart and soul, in wisdom’s thrall!

Gjerasim Qiriazi, ‘E para ditë e majit’, in Hristomaci, p. 82.

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