An der breiten Straße / By the Highway

An der breiten Straße

In des Stadttors Schatten steh’ ich,
Wo die Straße sich entrollt:
Und die Stadt ist nicht von Marmor
Und das Pflaster nicht von Gold.

An der breiten Straße sitz’ ich
Eine Stunde und ein Jahr:
Und ich träume, und ich hoffe,
Und ich warte immerdar.

Händler fahren ihre Waren,
Pilger ziehen aus und ein,
Gräber reihen sich allmählich:
Und ich werde selbst zu Stein.

Eines Nachts verkünden Sterne:
Gehe aus und such’ dein Glück!
Eines Tages bringst du’s hierher,
Denn die Stadt ruft dich zurück.

Christina Egan © 2015

Straight Roman road with ruins and trees to the left and right, in the dusk

Roman road in Carthage, Tunisia.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014

By the Highway

In the city gate I’m standing,
Where the outbound road‘s unrolled:
And the city’s not of marble
And the pavement not of gold.

By the highway I am sitting,
First an hour, then a year:
And I’m dreaming, and I’m hoping,
And I’m waiting, sitting here.

Merchants cart their goods to market,
Pilgrims visit and go home,
Tombs line up along the highway:
Slowly, I, too, turn to stone.

Yet one night some stars announce it:
Seek your luck now, seek your track!
And one day bring back your luck here,
When the city calls you back.

Christina Egan © 2015

This poem is timeless. A similar song is part of my play The Bricks of Ur, which is set 4,000 years ago. Another story from a highway outside a Roman city is Quo vadis?.View of Roman Cologne: a large neat grid of buildings with red tiles, located on flat land by a wide river“Roman Cologne, reconstruction” by Nicolas von Kospoth via Wikimedia.

This poem or song was inspired by ancient Roman tombs along Severinstraße, the straight road leading southwards out of Cologne, Germany (left in the picture). Artistic impressions of a Cologne city gate and a highway lined by tombs are online on p. 48 and p. 28-29 of Römer Straßen Köln. When I wrote the poem, I did not know that at times, Severinstraße was known as “Lata platea” or “Breite Straße” (“Broadway”)!

Postscriptum:  This was my first post ever! Roman roads and Cologne are two of my favourite subjects; so you can link to the texts covering them directly.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s