Ripe Apples and Pears

Ripe Apples and Pears
(Rhön, September)

*

Ripe apples and pears,
plenty, between the pebbles
in the nimble stream.

*

The forest, still green,
whispers and rustles and taps
with dropping acorns.

*

The gilded beech-tree
stretches out one long arm
towards the morning sun.

*

Christina Egan © 2013

Green field in the foreground, flat top of wooded hill with chapel in the distance, much blue sky above.

These haiku were written on walks around the Florenberg, a steep little hill in Germany, clothed with forest and crowned with a one-thousand-year-old chapel. The Fulda area was covered with beech-trees and oak-trees once.

Summit of Florenberg in spring, seen from another hilltop. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014.

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Offnen Augs

Offnen Augs

View down a cliff, with trees felled by the elements lying across the path beneath; the water is calm and turquoise.

Dem unverhofften
Verwitterten Warnschild
„Steile Klippen,
Hohe Brandung“
Folgte ich eilends.

Und stand da und schaute
Und wusste: Ich war.
Alles Blaugrüngrau
Saugte ich ein
Offnen Augs.

Christina Egan © 2003

 Couple holding on to a warning sign above the sea (which is calm and bluish).

Brodtener Ufer, near Travemünde on the Baltic Sea. Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014.

The couple are holding on to a sign warning of the cliff; the view downwards proves how dangerous the lower path is, where hikers have indeed got killed.

This is not a poem about Nature alone, though: it could be about life, about love, about faith… The colours of the sea, for instance, could also refer to a pair of eyes. I do not think I had seen such a sign when I wrote the poem!

Cimmerian Summer

Cimmerian Summer

This lifeless gloom: is it the dusk?
This pale white disc: is it the moon?
Is this a mild day in November?
No: in the land of ceaseless mist
this is the sun; the afternoon;
the lightless first day of September.

Christina Egan © 2015


“ἔνθα δὲ Κιμμερίων ἀνδρῶν δῆμός τε πόλις τε,
ἠέρι καὶ νεφέλῃ κεκαλυμμένοι.”

There are the land and city of the Cimmerians,
wrapped in mist and cloud.”  

Homer, Odyssey, 11:14-15


“Britain is set in the Sea of Darkness.
It is a considerable island. This country is most fertile,
its inhabitants brave, active and enterprising….
but all is in the grip of perpetual winter.”

Muhammad al-Idrisi of Sicily, ca. 1154


Homer never ceases to inspire us. Incidentally, I saw a retelling of the Odyssey  last night, at a London playhouse, or rather, amphitheatre! (On this first day of September, the weather is in fact glorious.)

The memory of four clearly marked seasons, full of bright leaves and fruits, and the sorrow about the apparent confusion of the climate are depicted in My Pack of Cards.

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.

The Ship’s Spirit

The Ship’s Spirit

*

A sail,
out in the wind,
white, vast, and fast,
like a cloud in the currents
of the sky and the sea, flowing,
fluttering, flying – what could be better
than being a sail? I will tell you: being a flag! I
bear the colours and I bear the crown,
the crescent, the dragon, the skull;
I dance more nimbly; I spy,
I spot the lands, I am
the ship’s spirit:
a flag!

*

The Ship’s Servant

*

High
above me
the bright dot
of the flag laughs,
while I unfurl, white
and wide like the dawn,
I hurl myself into the wind,
the world, pulling the mighty
ship along!          When it is calm,
I drift… watch…        let the sky smile
through the window in my midst; I swap
stories with my mates, you hear us whisper,
hear us rustle if you listen; and sometimes I rest,
I sleep curled up, in the sweet sleep of a proud sail!

*

Christina Egan © 2016

La Mer, enfin

La Mer, enfin
(Cimetière marin, Sète)

Ô vagues de vers sincères et idolâtres…
Ce vaste pan de verre d’un vert bleuâtre
Entre cieux et ombres suspendu,
Et cet essaim neigeux de tombes en marbre
Parmi les flammes géantes noires des arbres :
La Mer, enfin. J’ai vu et j’ai vécu.

Ces fleurs en bas, comme lèvres entrouvertes,
Impérissables certes, mais inertes,
Moulues de cet argile du Midi ;
Ces fleurs en haut, rosées et scintillantes,
Ces tressaillantes et minces, mais vivantes !
Le Cimetière. J’ai vu et j’ai écrit.

Christina Egan © 2016

Light-blue sky and light-green ocean in the background, white tombs in the foregrund; in the front, a flat marble slabs decorated with two large pink flowers, one in clay and one in plastic.

 

Paul Valéry’s tomb on the Cimetière marin, which has become famous through his poem. It is shown and played all day in the neighbouring art museum erected as a homage to him.

These lines are closely related to Valéry’s. The durable but lifeless flowers are of clay and plastic; the perishable but living ones blossom on the bushes around. My picture and poem were created in early January!

An automatic translation into English may convey the meaning of  my French homage to Valéry quite well — but not the music of the words!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

Aprilabend

Aprilabend
(Schloss Fasanerie bei Fulda)

Der Tag ist hoch; das Licht liegt leicht und lange
auf Moos und Gras und neugebornem Laub,
das jetzt in namenlosem Lebensdrange
fast fühlbar vorwärtsdrängt und blind vertraut.

Das Tal ist weit; die fernen Kuppen ragen
schon wieder kühn und unbeirrbar blau.
Zuletzt sind Schnee und Nebel doch begraben
und alle Linien farbig und genau.

Christina Egan © 2012


 

This impression of a spring evening with its unstoppable urge to live has been published in a previous edition of the Rhönkalender.

The view goes from Schloss Fasanerie (Eichenzell near Fulda, Germany) across the wide valleys towards the Rhön Mountains. You have to have lived in a northern country and suffered through the snow and fog to appreciate the rebirth of light and colour, grass and leaves!

An automatic translation can render most of the meaning, but not the music of the words, which emulates the beauty of nature.