Grand Canyon Psalm


Grand Canyon Psalm

I.

Nothing prepares you
for the heart of the world
lying open before you:
luminous layers
of rosy rock,
jagged and rounded,
leading down, down,
right into the earth.

In the silver silence
of night, you hear
how this heart beats:
it trembles and rumbles,
it nudges your bedstead,
unsettles your cottage,
reminds you of death
and life and the earth.

Undulating layers of pink and mauve rocks and peaks, with trees in the foreground.

II.

Nothing prepares you
for the ear of the world,
always wide open,
always upturned,
listening out
for the thud of the pine-cones,
the dance of the deer hooves,
the chant of the milky-way.

You have arrived
at the mouth of the world,
its voice of thunder,
its eloquent silence.
Here you stand, struck,
quiet at long last,
as tiny as an ant,
anointed like a king.

Christina Egan © 2018

 

A tiny fraction of the immense expanse of the Grand Canyon.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2008.

Quiet Fire

Quiet Fire

In balmy darkness
I was floating
over sand and salt,
along the garland of lights,
below the curtain of stars…

One fell.
In a flash, I thought of
my distant beloved one,
in a flood, it came back,
the impossible future.

Decorative paper, black with ripples in grey, white, purple.He, too,
had come like a shooting-star,
fair, fast, in a sweeping curve,
with careless grace,
like a message from life.

Cold is the sea now and rough,
with dullness tainted the days
and the sparkling tent of the night.
The quiet fire has passed:
the face that mattered.

Around me is autumn,
and I know that spring will return
and my youth will not.
The voice that struck me is silent;
and my heart eats death.

Christina Egan © 2012

A memory of the Mediterranean Sea, where one can swim, and swim even in after dark, even into autumn…

Decorative paper. Image provided by British Library through Flickr.

Daedalus on the Battlements

Daedalus on the Battlements

You drag your baggage through the crowd,
and from the loud and glaring maze
you spill into the heavy haze
of autumn fog and stifling fumes,
into a tube you crawl through tubes,
into a bullet aimed at space –

You soar, you blink, anticipate
some mellow light, some subtle blues –
And then you float above the dunes
of salty sand, the plains of ice,
the shadow of a sheet of cloud –
You sail above the blazing skies!

Christina Egan © 2016


Another return to Greece with winter sunshine even before I arrived: a sunset above the clouds! — Daedalus escaped the labyrinth by flying from its walls; the flaming sun plays a key role in this myth. 

You may get the sense of this poem quite well in a translation software.

Rosenquarzkammern

Rosenquarzkammern

Silberblech, angehaucht
Von allen Winden, schiefergrau
Und goldgekräuselt, rollt aus
Sich die See, bis sie
Des anderen Landes Füße berührt,
Die Türme der Stadt gegenüber.

Durch Rosenquarzkammern
Schimmert der sinkende Tagstern,
Reißt gleißend das Tor auf.

Den weißen Schiffen aber
Gleich menschentragenden Möwen
Folget das Auge hinaus,
Folget das Herz hinüber
Und wünschet sich Brücken,
Aus silbernen Fäden gesponnen,
Geknüpft über Wogen und Wald…

Christina Egan © 2017

Shimmering, milky, rosy piece of rock, resembling the sea at sunset.

This is the view onto the Öresund bridge which connects two countries, Denmark and Sweden, although it turns into a tunnel in the midst of the water, so that it seems to go under… The style of the poem is that of two hundred years ago, when such long bridges could not yet be constructed; the speaker only wishes for roads across, instead of the sea itself as a path.

I tried to convey the expansion of the elements and the symphony of grey, white, silver, golden, pink.

You can read English poems about a suspension bridges at On the Orange Bridge (San Francisco) and Tranquil Dragon (London).

Photograph of raw rose quarz by Ra’ike [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Milder Mai

Milder Mai

I.

In der weißen Marmorwanne
wartet schon ein warmes Bad:
So steht weiche Luft im Marktplatz,
füllt ihn bis zur feinsten Naht,

nimmt die Jacken von den Schultern,
von den Gliedern das Gewicht,
taucht das graue Reich des Nordens
in ein weingetöntes Licht.

II.

Lavender with fresh and wilted blossom, next to pale-golden grass.Wieder wuchert der Lavendel
halbwegs übern Gartenpfad,
birgt in prallen grünen Stengeln
seine süße lila Saat,

säumt die amethystnen Rispen
noch mit Lapislazuli,
jubiliert mit frischer Stimme
in der Sechsten Symphonie!

III.

Little tree with bright-blue blossom, next to pink and blue flowers.Wieder naht die Sonnenwende,
milder, üppiger denn je;
niemals tat so wohl das Leben,
niemals tat es mir so weh.

Selbst die losen Rosenblätter
leuchten wie ein Wolkensaum…
Und ich pflanze unter Tränen
einen himmelblauen Baum.

Christina Egan © 2014


I was thinking of sunlight like golden wine, but it might also a dusk like rosé…

The blue-blossoming tree is a ceanothus; the Sixth Symphony is Beethoven’s Pastoral.

Lavender; ceanothus. Photographs:  Christina Egan © 2016 /© 2017.

 

Zauberspruch zur Winterverbrennung

Zauberspruch zur Winterverbrennung

Lohende Flammen, lohende Glut,
schmelzet den Schnee uns, schmelzet den Frost!
Knisternde Äste, knisterndes Holz,
brechet den Bann uns, brechet das Eis!

Christina Egan © 2016

Ancient manuscript (9th/10th c. AD) in neatly written Old High German.

 

These lines were inspired by two things: the German custom of gathering round huge bonfires to drive the winter out; and those few pagan spells in ancient German which have come down to us.

The sound of the hissing flames and the crackling branches is captured in the verse. The power of winter is interpreted as a spell, an ordeal of darkness and cold, which this spell, the chant or prayer of man, can break.

 

The only pagan spells in Old High German, probably written down in Fulda monastery in the 9th or 10th century AD. – Photograph: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hollow Oak / feuerrad

Hollow Oak

Two round brooches with circular ornaments in gold and garnet, also glass and shell.Under the circle of branches,
under the tent of the tree,
inside the ring of the brambles,
sit on the roots with me!

Sit on the roots emerging
under the perfect round,
crouch by the tree-trunk surging
hollow from hallowed ground.

Under the circle of oak-leaves,
under the tent of the sky,
blue like the lakes in the valley,
come and sit closer by.

Very bright painting of the earth and universe in concentric circles on a golden background.Sheltered by tangled brambles,
held by the hollow oak,
tingled by ancient prayers,
kiss me and kindle hope!

Christina Egan © 2018

(Epping Forest, Essex)

 

feuerrad

das eichenlaub vergeht in goldesglanz
als sich das feuerrad der sonne senkt
die eiche hebt die wurzeln wie zum tanz
indes sie ihre hundert äste schwenkt

der eichenstamm rotiert als starke nabe
in jenem reigen zwischen tag und nacht
sein hohlraum bildet eine honigwabe
vom drachenzahn des brombeerstrauchs bewacht

die eiche streckt sich stolz am waldessaum
der sich zum wasserreichen tale neigt
wie gold und kupfer loht der alte baum
der tagstern sinkt das mondrund aber steigt

Christina Egan © 2018

(Epping Forest, Essex)


Illustrations: Anglo-Saxon disc brooches. Author: BabelStone [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons. — 12th century depiction of the world, illustrating a work by 11th century author Hildegard of Bingen.