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.

Views of North Sea Islands

Views of North Sea Islands Ansichten von Nordseeinseln

White cottage, steep thatched roof, covered with moss

 

Thick patches of moss
clustering on rippled thatch
like verdant islands,
like the islands we stand on:
growing in the rough grey sea.

Diagonal horizon, entirely flat between green and blue, with house in middle

Dicke Moospolster
auf dem welligen Reetdach,
gleich grünen Inseln,
gleich diesen Inseln hier,
wachsend im wilden grauen Meer.

Thatched roof, covered with moss

Red clover blossom:
tiny magenta lanterns
in the green and blue,
feeding on the salty floods
across these flat floating disks.

Diagonal horizon, entirely flat between green and blue, with house in middle

 

Rosaroter Klee:
winzige Laternen
in all dem Grün und Blau,
genährt von Salzfluten
über schwebende Scheiben hin.

Thatched roof, covered with moss

 

Huge ships approaching,
or space-ships – or are they hills,
or houses on stilts?
They are houses, hamlets, islets…
a necklace of glass beads.

 

Satellite image of a cluster of small emerald green islands

 

Da – Riesenschiffe –
Raumschiffe – oder Hügel,
Häuser auf Stelzen?
Häuser, Dörfchen, Inselchen…
eine Glasperlenkette.

English texts: Christina Egan © 2015
German texts: Christina Egan ©2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014
Galerie Nieblum on Föhr; Hallig Hooge.
Satellite picture: NASA via Wikimedia.


From the flat, small, oval island of Föhr, you spot the even flatter, even smaller islands known as ‘Halligen’: their clusters of houses and trees on little dells are visible on the horizon far across the ocean.

The Halligen still get regularly flooded and are occasionally menaced by devastation. All these islands change shape over time, when the forces of wind and water eat away at their edges or add new land.

I wrote about a similar phenomenon observed on the Baltic Sea island of the Darss in Schöpfung (Darß).

Triumphboot des Sommers

Triumphboot des Sommers
(Chateau de Chillon, Genfersee)

Gesättigt mit Licht
der Spiegel des Sees,
die Glocke des Tals,
der lange Nachmittag
letzter Frische
vor dem bronzenen Sommer.

Hingeschüttet das ganze Geschmeide
der Erde von unter den Wurzeln,
schimmernde Schuppen
auf der Schlange Landes
zwischen Bucht und Gebirg.

Blondes seidiges Licht
fällt in die Fenster der Burg,
tief hinein ins Verlies,
reicht an den rohen Fels;
tastende Fingerkuppen
wärmen die toten Kamine,
die fernen Wände der Säle,
rufen verblichene Sänger herauf
zum zeitlosen Tanz.

Am anderen Ufer
ragen reglos die Segel
der senkrechten Felsen,
bewimpelt mit Wolken,
Triumphboot des Sommers.

Die Stunde der Sonnwende schlägt,
unhörbar,
unumkehrbar,
unzerstörbar.

Christina Egan © 2001


‘Triumphal Barge of Summer’ may work in a translation software. It is a memory of Lac Leman, a vast lake between towering mountains, around summer solstice. One of the most beautiful days of my life!

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum,
im Frühlingswind verloren und im Traum…

Ich schaue auf die blauen Höhn,
die kühn wie Vorzeitbauten stehn.
Ich lausche auf den Vogelsang,
in meinen Adern steigt ein Drang!
Ich schaue auf den Horizont,
von dem mir meine Hoffnung kommt.

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum,
in Frühlingsnacht verloren und im Traum…

Ich schaue auf die Stadt im Tal
mit Erdensternen ohne Zahl.
In meinen Adern steigt der Saft,
ich streck’ mich mit versteckter Kraft!
Bevor noch süß die Linde blüht,
blüht früh und süß der Linde Lied.

Christina Egan © 2012

The mountain range on the horizon is the Rhön and the city in the valley is Fulda, Germany. There are more lines to this poem to make a song of it: part wistful and part hopeful, part heavy-hearted and part light-hearted!

The phrase ‘Town in the valley’ is echoed in the poem of the same name, Stadt im Tal.