Glasperlenlied

A dozen beads of gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian.Glasperlenlied

Die Stadt ist endlich dunkel, endlich still.
Und in der regenreinen Ruhe quillt
herauf, was unter dem Getümmel lag:
das Teppichmuster unterm Alltagstag.

Die Stunden ziehen bunt an mir vorüber,
verdichten, runden sich: Glasperlenlieder.
Mein Leben ist gering. Ich bin allein.
Doch brennt mein Herz und leuchtet wie der Wein.

Christina Egan © 2011

Minoan beads from Crete, of gold, lapis lazuli and cornelian, at least 3,500 years old.
Photograph
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

Prag, golden

Prag, golden

Im Meerblau des Abends,
im Windschutz der Burg
ersteigen die steilen
sandfarbnen Stufen
zwei Schatten und flüstern
und lachen und schweigen.

Schleier, besetzt
mit zahllosen Perlen,
die Büsche im Regen;
Kelche, geblasen
aus purpurnem Glas,
die berstenden Blüten.

Landschaft von Türmen,
spiegelnde Schluchten –
Bilder in Winkeln
des unruhigen Herzens,
Erinnerung an Träume,
an Heimat der Zukunft.

Reigen von Brücken,
behütet von Engeln,
von Helden der Vorzeit.
Türmende Treppen,
hängende Gärten,
Stadt ohne Alter.

Christina Egan © 2004


 My impression may work quite well in a translation software.

If you have the opportunity to visit one city only in Europe north of the Alps, let it be Prague. It is Central Europe in a nutshell. And it is enchanted…

The Czech Republic is a lovely little country anyway, with countless hills and lakes, mediaeval castles and market squares — absurdly romantic!

By the way, two other excellent destinations in Europe, other than Mediterranean, are Tallinn (Estonia) and Bruges (Belgium).

um mitternacht (der letzte bus)

um mitternacht

um mitternacht
der letzte bus
die straße strömt
ein dunkler fluß

die häuser schlafen
wand an wand
die bäume ruhn
im brautgewand

um mitternacht
der letzte kuß
die kurze kerze
loht mit lust

der mond hängt schräg
ein heller mund
die stille quillt
aus sattem grund

Christina Egan © 2015


This night scene is so peaceful that everything seems animate
and comfortable: the road is streaming, the houses are sleeping,
the trees are slumbering, dressed in blossom like brides.

Yet the person observing this is restless: seeing bright lips in the slanting
moon crescent, burning up like a candle, and knowing that life is
as short as a candle…

The German word ‘Lust’ could mean ‘lust’, ‘desire’, ‘zest’ or ‘pleasure’!

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!

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.

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

Ripples of People

Ripples of People
(Spring Equinox)

*

Ripples of people,
uneven waves, sudden whirls,
fast currents of cars:
a wayward river within
a canyon of grand buildings.

*

These neat white windows,
row upon row, road after road,
a thousand eyes
trying to catch light, praying
to touch the feeble sunset.

*

Christina Egan © 2013

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Knightsbridge, London,
in the last days of March — after equinox! —
when after months of dull and dark skies,
you may still be desperate for light and warmth.
For similar poems in German, see Alles drängt vorwärts.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016