scattered across the lush green
like two galaxies:
humble, ephemeral and
full of the glory of God.
Those snow-white patches,
patterns on the lawn, the mulch:
as if cut out from the world
of colours and of motion.
Christina Egan © 2012
These poems describe the world as an ensemble of patterns. They also try to make sense of the world, and perhaps the act of discovering order also unveils meaning…
Something tiny resembles something gigantic, the whole of the known world, in fact. Something white appears as a hole or an island in the colourful picture: like a shadow of death or a gate to eternity.
The line ‘full of the glory of God’ was inspired by the verse ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God‘ by Gerald Manley Hopkins.
You can truly ‘see a world in a grain of sand / and a heaven in a wild flower’, as William Blake claimed!
Photographs: Water-lilies. Liu Ye (Ye Liu) © 2016. — Queen of the night. Christina Egan © 2014.
The curves of your step and your hand
leave a feathery trail in the air,
leave a flickering trace in my heart.
It’s a script you can’t see,
it’s a script I can’t read,
it’s a glittering vein on the earth.
That you weigh your weight,
that your flesh fills space,
that you radiate warmth
is a wonder to me,
a wealth of amazement,
a maze of desire.
Christina Egan © 2006
gedichte über blumen
ein jeder blumenkranz
ein jedes sommerlied
jede hochgemute knospe
ja jeder nadelfeine halm
ist eine kriegserklärung
an den krieg
an die liebe
Christina Egan © 2014
Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014 / 2016.
My insistence on writing poems about flowers is a reaction to Bertolt Brecht’s often-quoted suggestion that a conversation about trees borders on criminal negligence because it is silent about atrocities. In the poem An die Nachgeborenen from the 1930’s he exclaims:
“Was sind das für Zeiten, wo
Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein Verbrechen ist
Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten einschließt!”
Brecht’s idea is startling and ingenious; but I hold that all praise of a flower or a bud is a praise of life and peace: ‘a declaration of war / against War… a declaration of love / to Love.’
Also, if you have read a few of my poems, you will have noticed that they do not describe flowers and trees alone, but use them as images for human life and joy, suffering and death. ‘Poems about flowers’ has 35 words — but amongst them are ‘nothingness’ and ‘the universe’!
Enveloped in the velvet cloak of night,
I feel I have been chosen before birth
As secret queen of this enchanted earth,
Enrobed in moon and star and rainbow light.
Enveloped in this sparkling cloak of night,
Embroidered by an angel, tireless,
And lined with solid human tenderness,
I know I live and die to see the light.
I’m wrapped into this lining of the night:
Your silver beauty scooped out of the moon
And made to breathe and smile and give me room.
I hold your smooth and tapered fingers tight,
I hold your dreams to give them earth to bloom:
Around us moves the sky’s luminous loom.
Christina Egan © 2010
Under the Blue Bloom of the Tree
Under the blue bloom of the tree,
O little mouse, I buried thee.
I heard thee often run until
I saw thee lying, small and still.
So high the sky, so late the light
ascending to midsummernight…
The deep warm earth is now thy bed,
with snow-white petals for a spread.
Fresh spikes of lavender I chose
and last, a minuscule red rose.
Tonight, the ceanothus tree
will scatter sky-blue dust on thee.
Christina Egan © 2017
The mouse grave in the poem. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.
O daß der Mühlenräderlärm der Plätze
verrauschte wie ein Sommerwolkenbruch,
das grelle purzelnde Geröll der Menge
versiegte in der Großstadtstraßenschlucht,
auf daß das Flußbett sich durchwandern ließe
an Pforten, Traufen, Blumentrog vorbei
und nur die Schwalbe in die Stille stoße,
hoch, froh, mit Sichelflug und Silberschrei.
O daß die Lichterstrecken, Lichterhaufen
verblaßten wie das Nordlicht überm Meer,
auf daß die Sterne aus dem Dunkel tauchten
wie ein mit Bronze überglänztes Heer!
Christina Egan © 2017
The mythical river Sambation at the edge of the known world cannot be crossed because it is wild and full of mud and rocks — or even consists of rocks instead of water.
Here, the busy streets of a big city are experienced as a ravine full of tumbling stones, while the screech like grinding millstones; by night, the galaxies of lamplights drown the stars.
The opposite images are the quiet riverbeds of empty streets; the silent sky punctuated by the flight and cry of a swallow; and then the stars re-emerging…
This poem will be published in the German-language calendar Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019 (available from mid-August).
a flock of birds turns them into
three lines of verse.
No flowerbeds here –
but a line of bright washing
dancing in the wind!
A palm-tree appears
in the rear mirror, and huts
in the still lagoon.
Christina Egan © 2018
These haiku about haiku were written looking at three picture postcards, where I instantly perceived patterns and metaphors.
Poetry – and painting or photography – are like rear mirrors which make hidden things visible and ordinary places special.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.