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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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.

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.

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.

Augustfest

Augustfest

August.
Klangvolles,
sattgoldnes Wort,
beinah orangerot.

Abend.
Wort voll blauer Ruhe,
verborgener Kraft
und süßer Verheißung.

Norden.
Ein weites graues Feld
im Winter… im Sommer aber
ein ganz grüner Horizont.

Augustabend im Norden.
Ein Fest ist uns bereitet,
herrlich wie ein Hochzeitstag.
Schau dich doch um.

Christina Egan © 2016


Some more thoughts on the north of the planet… In winter all is grey, sky and land and water alike; but in summer, the world shines in blue and green and golden. This is before you look at the flowers and fruits, and the places and things whose colours show again, and the people who have come outdoors again. Winter lasts six months in Southern Europe, like in the myth of Persephone, but seven months in Central Europe and perhaps nine in Northern Europe… All the more do we enjoy the glories of summer!

This is one of many poems I wrote for my wedding anniversaries in August; I hope plenty of other people will be able to use it for their engagements, weddings, and anniversaries! The little poem I read at my wedding is simply called I Love You.

This is the Northern Land

This is the Northern Land

This is the northern land
of loose and juicy ground
where fern and forest glow
and wheat and fruit abound.

This is the continent
where mound responds to mound
and wind resounds on rock –
this is the home we found.

This is the realm of dusk
and star-embroidered night,
of fog caressing lakes…
and then the roaring light!

Christina Egan © 2013

Mountain meadow filling lower half of picture, high trees right behing and mountain range in the distance along the middle, pale blue sky above.

Dammersfeld mountain ridge, Rhön (Central German Highlands).
Two of my great-grandparents grew up with precisely this view. —
Photograph
 by GerritR via Wikimedia Commons.


 

This poem was inspired by the Czech national anthem, Kde domov muj, which entirely refrains from politics and warfare and mainly describes the lush landscape of Central Europe. The Czech Republic abounds with hills and lakes, forests and fields.

My lines cover the whole of Central Europe or the whole continent (including the British Isles): my home is my region, or my country, or Central Europe, or all of Europe — none more so than the other.

The claim that even those who were born there ‘found’ their land may sound strange: yet their ancestors did immigrate one day, even if it was a thousand years or two thousand ago. No one just grew out of the ground. Moreover, most people are arguably of mixed ethnic origin, in our case, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Jewish, Hungarian, and more. No nation is an island.