Spätes Wiederfinden

Spätes Wiederfinden

I.

Die strohgedeckten Hütten sind verschüttet,
und in den Säulengängen haust der Wind.
Mir ist, als spürt’ ich unter meinen Sohlen,
wo eigne Schritte eingezeichnet sind.

Ich schliff das Pflaster unter den Sandalen,
ich legte jenes Pferd ins Mosaik;
ich wurde dort am Wegesrand begraben
mit meinem Krug voll Kummer und voll Glück.

Very irregular pavement.

II.

Mir scheint, ich hätt’ schon vor Jahrhunderten
in deinen Augen wie ein Gast gewohnt.
Und wenn ich nur den Schlüssel wiederfände,
dann hätt’ auch dieses Leben sich gelohnt…

Was zählen da die wenigen Jahrzehnte,
in denen wir einander jetzt versäumt?
Ein kleiner Aufenthalt in deinen Augen
bringt, was ich in Jahrtausenden erträumt.

Christina Egan © 2011


The fifth year of this poetry blog sets off, as always, with a Roman road or another ancient road!

In the first poem, someone finds the place where they lived and died in a former existence; in the second one, they think they have also found their former love…

The location is imaginary. The three images for the former life all have to do with the earth: the feet and shoes; the mosaics in the floor; the grave by the wayside. Two of the images also refer to wandering, our wandering on earth: the soles wearing the pavement down and the horse in the mosaic. The second poem mentions the status of guest; as the psalms express it, we are all guests on earth.


Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.  International highway, Via Domitia, crossing the forum of Narbonne. I suppose this bit had been much damaged and patched up, since the Romans built entirely straight and smooth roads!

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Nächster Halt: Potsdamer Platz

Nächster Halt: Potsdamer Platz

Schwingt ihre Hüften und wippt ihre Füße
fröhlich die Straßenbahn, macht einen Satz,–
weben Zylinder und Wagenradhüte,
Kappen und Häubchen am Potsdamer  Platz!

Strahlen geschwungene Straßenlaternen,
äugen Gesichter aus blumigem Putz,
lachen Plakate und wirbeln und werben:
Pflückt euch das Leben am Potsdamer Platz!

Längst sind zu Staub die Fassaden zerstoben,
längst ist verklungen Berlins Karussell,–
aber im Geiste, dem Zeitlauf enthoben,
dreht es sich kunterbunt, munter und schnell.

Christina Egan © 2017

Noble townhouse with rich stucco ornaments and rose-tree.

This poem is the middle part of my Berlin Triptych, together with Nächster Halt: Bahnhof Zoo and Nächster Halt: Flughafen Schönefeld. Someone arrives at Zoo Station, then passes Potsdamer Platz on a round-trip, and leaves from Schönefeld airport.

For an English poem about the same square, go to Glass Mountain (Potsdamer Platz).

Photograph: Noble townhouse in Berlin — one inspiration for these lines! Christina Egan © 2016.

Glass Mountain (Potsdamer Platz)

Glass Mountain
(Potsdamer Platz)

Lights above you, lights around you,
shifting blue and mauve and pink,
lights below you, lights surround you,
pierce the black and loom and shrink.

Glass fronts of enormous silos
mask the dusk and stare and blink,
figures wander in the windows,
lifts in tubes float up and sink.

Water basins spread around you
shifting blue and mauve and pink,
glass roofs open in the ground, too,
names flare up in mirror print.

Glass façades and water fountain
multiply the hum and glint:
you have stepped inside a mountain,
you are trapped in steely pink,

trapped beside a thousand others,
lulled by murmur and gay tunes,
screened from sun and stars and weathers
by a tent-roof in sweet blues.

Futuristic glass buildings, pointed and rounded, illuminated in blue and pink; in the corner, old facade visible beneath.Then you see the stucco hover,
curling in a livid tint;
chandeliers unfurl and quiver;
then you hear the glasses clink…

Have you dreamt of the Titanic
or of old Potsdamer Platz?
No, this is the real relic,
the hotel that dodged the Blitz

and kept spinning through the nightmare
of the void swept by the wind –
sad and splendid sole survivor
under glass and neon pink.

Christina Egan © 2017

Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz, with old façade visible beneath the glass (here, in pink). Photograph: Pedelecs by Wikivoyage and Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

For a German poem on the old, vanished, Potsdamer Platz, look at the sonnet Nächster Halt: Potsdamer Platz.

The Dance of the Sacks

The Dance of the Sacks

There’s the war tax and the peace tax
There’s the core tax and the fleece tax
There’s the fish tax and the spice tax
There’s the poll tax and the vice tax!

There’s the whisper of a tax-plan
There’s the whistle of the tax-man!

There’s the old tax and the new tax
There’s the wool tax and the wheat tax
There’s the old tax for the new sacks
And the new tax for the old sacks!

There’s the tax-man with his tablet
It’s a state-protected racket!

Christina Egan © 2011

Small clay tablet with cuneiform text.

This comical song for a jig is taken from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011) set around 2000 BC.

The tax collectors could wield either Sumerian clay tablets or 21st century electronic tablets!

I must have been inspired by a hilarious jig in one of the first seasons of Shakespeare’s Globe in London…

Receipt for 13 woolen garments, ca. 2038 BC. Photograph by Rama, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr [CeCILL or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr] via Wikimedia Commons.

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).

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).

Siegeskranz

Siegeskranz

Vor fünfzehnhundert Jahren,
da hab’ ich einen Kranz
aus Lorbeer und aus Ölzweig
gelöst und eingepflanzt.

Mein einst mit dunklem Lorbeer
gekröntes goldnes Haar
blieb fortan ungefeiert
und bleichte Jahr um Jahr.

Nach sieben Sommern aber
bot meine Ölbaumschar
die  bittersüßen Früchte
mit stolzem Lächeln dar.

Und Völker schwollen, ebbten,
und Rom verging in Rauch;
doch aus dem Kreis von Zweigen
entsproß noch Strauch um Strauch.

Und Bäume blühten, dorrten
und sanken in den Staub;
doch immer wieder grünte
das zähe Ölbaumlaub.

Nach fünfzehnhundert Jahren
betret’ ich einen Hain
aus silberhellen Hölzern
und spüre: Er ist mein.

Christina Egan © 2015

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.

Someone plants an olive grove towards the end of the Roman Empire, comes back to earth fifteen hundred years later — and recognises the descendants of her or his trees, which have survived the Dark Ages and are still thriving.

The narrator had taken the original olive shoots from her (more likely, his) victory garland, for instance for a poetic contest; so they could be an image for a contribution to civilisation in late antiquity which is relevant to this day.

For an English story about the end of Rome and its afterlife, go to The City Lit Up.

Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.