Minerva’s Voyage

Minerva’s Voyage

I.

Minerva by Botticelli

Her hair is the offspring of river and fire,
her robe has been woven from flowers and wind.
Her foot cannot rest and her flesh cannot tire,
her arm is in flow and her eye will inspire
a voyage for wisdom with one  fleeting glint.

II.

Minerva on the Academy of Athens

She dived like a hawk from her shadowless sphere,
the shield on her arm like the sun in the west –
She looms on the roof with her helmet and spear
to capture the lightning, conduct it down here
and spark our restless and glittering quest.

Christina Egan © 2016

Delicate, pale, portrait of the goddess as a young woman in armour.Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and knowledge, arts and applied arts; she came to be identified with the Greek goddess Athena, patron of Athens.

The two poems were  inspired by the two artworks mentioned, as well as a temple on the Agora of Athens dedicated to her as patron of artists and artisans.

Illustration: Minerva by Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1482-83), via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

Erster Juli / Eimerrand

Erster Juli

Die Erde atmet durch ein jedes Blatt,
von Sonne, Wind und Regen rund und satt.
Die Kletterpflanze streckt sich aus und birst
in weiße Kreise bis zum Schuppenfirst.
Die Nelkenwurz erbebt im Hummelflug,
die Beeren filtern dunkelblaues Blut.
Und selbst die totgeglaubte Nelke glüht
in einem starken Rosa, das genügt.

Christina Egan © 2014


 

Eimerrand

So mit Sonne vollgesogen
ist das nördlich schöne Land
funkelndbunter Wassertropfen
an des Schöpfers Eimerrand!

Christina Egan © 2015

Red geraniums, pink verbena, blueberries around lawn

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014

I have also written English poems about the magical time of Early JulyThere are more plants bursting with life at Green Blood: four German and English poems for the four seasons.

What must be the shortest poem on this website, other than haiku, is a powerful one: a whole stretch of land is only a sparkling drop on God’s bucket. The lines were inspired by a verse in Isaiah claiming that the nations are just drops on a bucket and grains of sand.

Moment dans la mare

Moment dans la mare
(Boulogne-sur-Mer)

À la plage immense, vidée de la mer,
le vent est trempé du soleil et du sel :
caresse chanceuse de l’univers,
regard maternel rempli d’étincelles.

La mare autour des chevilles surprises,
le sable mouillé, moulé de soleil :
tout ça – l’océan et la boue et la brise –
tout est mêlé et tout est pareil.

Tout est tiède et tout est limpide,
tout est liquide autour des doigts…
Tout est un rêve réel, et le vide
commence à se combler de joie.

Il n’y a pas de bataille, il n’y a pas de triage
de quatre ou cinq éléments lumineux :
plutôt une étreinte éternelle, mariage
de plage et marée, bénit des cieux.

Christina Egan © 2016


The poem refers to the four or five elements which make up the universe, an ancient philosophical concept found in variations in many civilisations.

Greek philosophers held that war, or conflict, between the forces of nature generate everything and challenge us to greatness. I propose that the Greek elements of fire, air, water, earth — and spirit — exist, but work through interaction and union, and that humans grow most when working within and with nature.

This makes harmony instead of conflict the driving force of the universe. It is also a female philosophical approach rather than a traditional male one.

In French literature, the ‘void’ is essential, marking loneliness, mortality, and the pointlessness of life; I want to hold up the ‘void’ or ‘silence’ as an experience of peace and fulfilment, communion with the universe, and a foretaste of eternal life.

When I stood on the beach of Boulogne at sunset, the sky and the sea and the sand were gleaming in streaks of otherworldly purple and orange.

An automatic translation into English may convey the sense of these lines well, but in the original French, they are conceived to sound like music… like waves.

Sonett der drei Seen

Sonett der drei Seen
(São Miguel, Azoren)

Der Teich war gelb, und gelbe Dämpfe stiegen
ins heiße Blau, umringt von dunklen Ranken,
als müde Glieder sich im Gelb entspannten
mit Blättern, die wie Schlick im Strudel trieben.
Der See war grün, und grüne Schimmer hingen
in steilen Hängen und in flachen Tiefen,
worunter ungeheure Feuer schliefen,–
zur rechten grün und himmelblau zur linken.
Und um die gelben, grünen, blauen Kessel
und buntbestickten Ufer lief ein Band
von schwarzen Felsen und von schwarzem Sand;
und darum – ohne Grenze, ohne Fessel
und ohne Form – das Meer, das Element…
O selig, wer die sanften Inseln kennt!

Christina Egan © 2016

Sete_cidades_(14267780070)

 

Sete Cidades, (São Miguel, Azores). Photograph by Aires Almeida from Portimão, Portugal, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The colours of the water are really like in the photo! See also my verse Acherons Mund  for the darker aspects of these isles.

These poems may work in a translation software, although you only get the meaning, not the sounds, which are like music and like the sounds of nature itself!

Mer de miel

 Clouds in hte sunset, looking like a bright yellow sea, an orange coast and purple sky. An optic illusion above a real coast (not visible here).

Mer de miel
(Sète)

Levez vos yeux vers ce vitrail doré,
d’un jaune plus doux, d’un jaune plus pâle possible :
une baie cernée de hauts rochers
d’un bleu brumeux… Un crépuscule paisible.

Clignez vos yeux à ce vitrail distant,
mer de miel, montagne mauve, sauvage :
tout flotte au dessus de l’horizon –
des eaux de feu, une terre de nuages !

Ce paysage d’un or incomparable
s’évanouit et passe, une image…
Ou serait ça la côte impérissable
et notre terre et mer le grand mirage ?

Christina Egan © 2016


This poem takes up an idea from ancient pagan and Christian philosophy: our world may be only a pale reflexion of a higher, perfect, world. Those ‘heavens’, however, are an inaccessible and unimaginable place — beyond our universe — for which the visible sky is only an image.

The fiery sunset which took me quite literally ‘out of this world’ occurred in midwinter on one of the northernmost beaches of the Mediterranean, at the outskirts of Sète. For a daytime poem and photograph on the sea around Sète, see La Mer, enfin.

Clouds in the sunset, looking like a bright yellow sea, an orange coast and purple sky. An optic illusion above a real coast (also visible here).

Photographs: The sky above the coast in Sète, France. Christina Egan © 2016

The Dittany of Crete

The Dittany of Crete

I’ve found the place where red and blue,
where earth and sea and sky all meet;
I’ve even climbed the ashen rock
to pick the dittany of Crete:

to weave a spell about your eyes,
to wake your smiling silent mouth,
to share with you the flaming light
and heavy flavours of the south.

Christina Egan © 2012

Hanging oblong flowers in bright green with bright pink.

 

The ‘dittany of Crete’ is a rare wild plant, gathered as a flavouring, medicine, aphrodisiac, or love token. I tried it on Crete in a delicious and wholesome tea!

The red colour in the poem could be the pink and orange surf in the sunset, or the pink and orange beaches of Crete. The sea might be bright blue and then again bright green

Origanum dictamnus.
Photograph:
HelenaH via Wikimedia.

inselstrand / mondstrand

inselstrand

der sand ist durchsponnen
von tausenden rinnen
wo winzige flüsse
perlmuttern erschimmern

sich sammeln sich teilen
erwärmen erschauern
bald rasten bald eilen
erblassen erblauen

der sand is voll salz
und voll sonne gesogen
das leben verbirgt sich
im atmenden boden

das land ist dem wind
und dem wasser verwoben
die seele der enge
der insel enthoben

Christina Egan © 2014

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

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

mondstrand

streckt das meer sich
mondbeglänzt
wacht die erde
nachtentgrenzt

webt die wolke
geisterhaft
um der mondin
zauberkraft

schlägt die schwärze
windbewegt
auf das silber
feingeprägt

pocht die welle
unentwegt
an den sandstrand
sanfterregt

taucht die sohle
heiß und bloß
in die brandung
ruhelos

steigt der schmerz
im raschen blut
fällt die träne
in die flut

steht die hoffnung
fest und fern
hängt das herz
am höchsten stern

Christina Egan © 2014


These lines stem from a visit to two tiny round North Sea
islands, Föhr and Hooge. Besides my walks on the beach —
by day and by night — I was inspired by
Gregor Swoboda’s
paintings
 at Galerie Nieblum.

Find more poems and photos at Views of North Sea Islands
(in German and English).