This is the End (Yet all will be well)

This is the End

Most days are too harsh, and most days are too dark,
and most hours are trundling along through a void,
while the moons fade away, barely leaving a ray,
and proud cities, piled up to the clouds, are destroyed.

Yet all will be well, yes, it yet will be well,
and all manner of things will be well in the end,
when in fathomless bliss like a fathomless kiss
all the stars, all the spirits will brighten and blend.

Christina Egan © 2004


Lines five and six are a quote from Sister Julian of Norwich,
an English hermit and mystic who lived six hundred years ago.

In Advent, which this year starts today, Christians also think of
the inevitable and terrifying end of the world.

Massive stone walls piled upon each other

The Tower of Jericho, around 9,000 years old. Photograph:
Reinhard Dietrich (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
.

Schlaflied / Die Riesenschaukel

Schlaflied
(Spätherbst)

Blätter fallen,
Regen fällt,
langsam schlafen
geht die Welt.

Schlaf’ auch du nun,
Mutter wacht.
Gute Ruhe,
gute Nacht.

Nebel wallen
und verwehn,
Schnee wird fallen,

Stern wird stehn.
Schlaf’ auch du nun,
Engel wacht.
Gute Träume,
gute Nacht.

(Für Johannes)

Christina Egan © 2009


Die Riesenschaukel

Papa, Jakob, Julian
stoßen ihre Schaukel an,
Schaukel mit dem Riesenkorb
trägt sie von der Erde fort.

Sie schaukeln und schwingen,
sie jauchzen und singen,
hinauf, hinauf, hurra!

Mama, Jakob, Julian
stoßen ihre Schaukel an,
fliegen übern feinen Sand,
fliegen übern Waldesrand.

Sie steigen und sinken,
sie lachen und winken,
hinauf, hinauf, hurra!

(Für Julian und Jakob)

Christina Egan © 2009


You can of course substitute your own names in this song, for instance ‘Vati, Klaus und Peter nun’ or ‘Mutti und Elisabeth’. Perhaps you can find tunes, too!

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.

War and Peace (Red Fog / Green Shoots)

War and Peace

I.

Red Fog

Red fog rose
from the bloody river
when Baghdad’s proud walls
crumbled to dust.

The sobbing, the gasping
rose with the fog,
scratched the blank sky
till it wept blood.

High soared the blinking blades,
higher the cries of triumph,
down on the broken timber,
the toys forlorn in the ash.

Red ran the Tigris,
bearing pots and books and bodies
down through the desert,
frayed crimson silk.

Decorative brick with symmetrical floral motiv, deeply incised.

II.

Green Shoots

Green shoots, vibrant,
blue buds, brilliant,
climbing the trellis
of ten thousand tiles.

The tall white walls,
the wide white courtyards,
the shimmering basins:
those were the flags of peace.

Not the carpets of ash
which the conquest leaves,
nor the polished parchment
where the truce is signed.

Peace is the pomegranate
in the smooth wooden bowl,
peace is the spinning-top
on the deep-green glaze.

Christina Egan © 2003 (I) / © 2018 (II)

These poems were inspired by the massacre of 1248 when the Mongols took Baghdad, but they can be applied to any war Mesopotamia has seen in the course of the millennia, or indeed to any other part of the world…

Brick from Baghdad, mid-13 century. Photograph: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

August Night / Nur Asche zu essen

August Night

The night is short and moist and sweet,
with secret sprouting life replete…
and stark and bitter all the same.

There is no peace on golden wings,
there is no peace from silver limbs…
only a tiny steady flame.

Christina Egan © 2012


In the midst of abundant midsummer,
the narrator has not found peace — neither
through prayer or meditation nor through
the presence of a beloved person.

The following poem laments the unborn dead,
whose graves are nameless and forgotten and
who never saw the light of the sun although
angels may have taken them elsewhere…


Nur Asche zu essen

Nur Asche zu essen,
nur Lehm statt Brot,
nur Erde zu wissen:
der bitterste Tod.

Den Leib ohne Atem,
das Aug ohne Licht,
das Grab ohne Namen:
das schärfste Gericht.

Die niemals Gebornen,
fast ohne Gewicht,
von Engeln Verborgnen:
Vergesset sie nicht.

Christina Egan © 2018

Solstice Scroll

Solstice Scroll

I break some rare and short-lived flowers,
I sacrifice some sunshine hours
for Melpomene’s altar steps.
Since Phaeton’s horses thunder higher
with ever more abundant fire,
I’ll finish ere the day-star sets.

I’ll call upon Apollo’s powers,
I’ll stand amongst the cypress towers
around my children’s hidden tomb.
I’ll write my elegy and sing it,
I’ll scroll it up, stand up and fling it
into the bright barge of the moon.

Christina Egan © 2018

Straight Roman road with ruins and trees to the left and right, in the dusk

Roman road in Carthage, Tunisia.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014

au jour des ténèbres

au jour des ténèbres

Three tall gothic windows with modern stained galss, abstract and subdued.au jour des ténèbres
une chandelle dansait
au jour des funèbres
une fleur étincelait

à l’heure de silence
une voix m’a touché
à l’heure de souffrance
une main m’a brossé

à l’aube très lente
une étoile est surgie
dans l’âme patiente
la lueur s’élargit

comme si la souffrance
se tintait de bleu
ô douce espérance
qui baigne les yeux

Christina Egan © 2018

This poem was inspired by a French church service where the words ‘souffrance’… ‘silence’… ‘patience’… seemed to echo in the dark church on a dull Good Friday…

Windows in St Nicholas, Ghent. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2018.