Tâter pour une langue

Tâter pour une langue

Il me manque les mots…
Ils flottent sur les flots :
turquoise… îlots…
glaciers et glaçons…
le bateau, le ballon –
ardoise… sillage…
nuit et naufrage –
sans peindre une scène,
sans rendre une chaîne,
parure, ceinture,
magie d’écriture !
Ô langue étrangère,
étrange, passagère,
je te cherche, te chasse,
je regarde dans ma tasse –
il me manque les mots !

Christina Egan © 2016


These lines describe the struggle to write literature in a foreign language. The poet has to look into her coffee-cup for inspiration…

The sequence of words appears to be disconnected but does produce the outline of a scene or story — a vague turquoise and grey image of a dangerous voyage — which also scans and rhymes. So there is the poem!

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This is the Suburb

This is the Suburb

The houses lined up like birthday cakes:
brick cubes covered in cream-coloured paint,
brick cubes covered in brick-coloured paint,
giraffe-neck chimneys as quaint decorations.

The gardens stretching like flower-boxes,
each bush in blossom a witness to life,
the trees at the corners picked from a toy box,
perfectly round and perfectly green.

This is the suburb. If only you saw it
the very first time, descended from Mars,
flown in from the desert, arrived from abroad,
you’d clap your hands in wonder and joy!

Christina Egan © 2017

Front gardens with brick walls, flower pots, rose tree.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

England’s endless rows of terraced homes and front gardens, the brick walls and painted ledges and long chimneys — insignificant or actually invisible to their inhabitants beg to be photographed by the strolling visitor or newcomer.

The all-year-round greenery and the abundant flowers in England — even around the giant capital city — will amaze those whose home countries are hotter and drier or else colder and harsher, or whose cities have less green and more stone.

I have read that an immigrant from Bangladesh asked herself if English people are poor because many did not paint their brick houses! I have heard of other Central Europeans who, like myself, took the spring flowers in front of public buildings for artificial ones!

Jetzt und jenseits / Now and Beyond

Jetzt und jenseits

In der Stille, in der Helle,
wo die Kerze steht und blüht
oder Welle über Welle,
Wolke über Wolke zieht,

in der Stille, in der Hülle
des Gewölbes oder Walds
quillt der Friede, quillt die Fülle
jetzt und jenseits unsres Alls.

Christina Egan © 2015

Shallow sandy beach and blue sea water filling lower half of picture, sky-blue sky with a few clouds above. Exudes tranquillity.

Now and Beyond

In the stillness, in the light,
where the candle blossoms bright
or where wave flows after wave,
cloud on cloud and breeze on breeze,

in the stillness, in the cave
of the vault or wooded pond
flows the fullness, flows the peace
of the now and the beyond.

Christina Egan © 2015


In the Hebrew bible, ‘peace’ (‘shalom’) is defined ex positivo, as it should be, not ex negativo: it means abundance and fulfilment, not absence of war or conflict.

Similarly, in the Christian tradition, ‘quiet’, ‘silence’, ‘solitude’ often imply awareness, peace of mind, presence of God, rather than absence of sound or lack of company.

Photograph: Beach of Wyk on Föhr, Germany. Christina Egan © 2014.

Suburban traffic jam / Vorstadtstau

Suburban traffic jam

It’s raining, the traffic is creeping,
the morning is seeping away…
The bus windows seem to be weeping
at boundless suburban grey.

Yet should a grenade or a comet
now strike us, as if to sift –
I’d meet my death as a poet,
I’ve smiled and I’ve breathed and I’ve lived!

Christina Egan © 2015


Vorstadtstau

Es regnet… Minuten verrinnen
im Vorstadtstau, Stoßzeitstau…
Die Autobusfenster verschwimmen
im uferlos traurigen Grau.

Und sollte der Tod uns jetzt lichten
– Granate oder Komet –
so hab’ ich gelächelt, gedichtet,
so hab’ ich geatmet, gelebt!

Christina Egan © 2015


These thoughts came to me on a bus near the spot in London where a man was shot dead by gangsters in 2015; no one has been charged with the crime. In 2016, another man was shot dead nearby by police. Later that year, another man was stabbed to death just down the road, near Wood Green Station.

Moreover, many terrorist attacks have happened in Europe, and many more have been prevented in London alone; but more are bound to afflict us.

Aprilabend

Aprilabend
(Schloss Fasanerie bei Fulda)

Der Tag ist hoch; das Licht liegt leicht und lange
auf Moos und Gras und neugebornem Laub,
das jetzt in namenlosem Lebensdrange
fast fühlbar vorwärtsdrängt und blind vertraut.

Das Tal ist weit; die fernen Kuppen ragen
schon wieder kühn und unbeirrbar blau.
Zuletzt sind Schnee und Nebel doch begraben
und alle Linien farbig und genau.

Christina Egan © 2012


 

This impression of a spring evening with its unstoppable urge to live has been published in a previous edition of the Rhönkalender.

The view goes from Schloss Fasanerie (Eichenzell near Fulda, Germany) across the wide valleys towards the Rhön Mountains. You have to have lived in a northern country and suffered through the snow and fog to appreciate the rebirth of light and colour, grass and leaves!

An automatic translation can render most of the meaning, but not the music of the words, which emulates the beauty of nature.

The Tea Turned Cold – I

Please note the first part of an essay at POLITICS:

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

I.

When I was a teenager, my parents agreed that I was academically gifted, but had no practical talent whatsoever (by contrast to my brother); this was despite the fact that I had been capable of cooking and baking and taking over the household to the same exacting standards, whenever the need arose, from the age of twelve.

This must mean that domestic work is no practical work and no skilled work either.

Read more here.

Three cakes: one glazed and decorated, one topped with fresh fruit in a pattern, one with plenty of dried fruits and nuts.Home-made Christmas cakes. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2012.

A new chapter will be added to this essay for several months running.

House of Books

Drawing of the mechanics of a loom (yarn on rolls, without the frame)House of Books
(British Library)

On the grey carpet,
grey shapes intersect,
shadows of shoulders,
of hands, of heads:
minds overlapping
for a moment.

From the white walls,
rapid shuttles ricochet,
shiny yarns interweave:
Very large bookcase with foldable desk surface and chained volumes (drawing)threads of voice,
trains of thought,
embroidering the air.

Built of a million bricks
glowing at the ashen junction
is the House of Books;
built of a million minds
is the fabric of the pages,
of the screens, of the scrolls.

Christina Egan © 2017

Illustrations of Loom and
Bookcase from the Wikimedia