Snow-White Patches

Snow-White Patches
(July Tanka)

Daisies, buttercups,
scattered across the lush green
like two galaxies:
humble, ephemeral and
full of the glory of God.

*

Those snow-white patches,
patterns on the lawn, the mulch:
hortensia flowers,
as if cut out from the world
of colours and of motion.

Christina Egan © 2012


Waterlilies with half-open luminous pink and white flowers.

These poems describe the world as an ensemble of patterns. They also try to make sense of the world, and perhaps the act of discovering order also unveils meaning…

Something tiny resembles something gigantic, the whole of the known world, in fact. Something white appears as a hole or an island in the colourful picture: like a shadow of death or a gate to eternity.

 

Cactus seen from above, with two star-like flowers bigger than the body of the cactusThe line ‘full of the glory of God’ was inspired by the verse ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God‘ by Gerald Manley Hopkins.

You can truly ‘see a world in a grain of sand / and a heaven in a wild flower’, as William Blake claimed!

Photographs: Water-lilies. Liu Ye (Ye Liu) © 2016. — Queen of the night. Christina Egan © 2014.

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gedichte über blumen

gedichte über blumen

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkein jeder blumenkranz
ein jedes sommerlied

jede hochgemute knospe
ja jeder nadelfeine halm

ist eine kriegserklärung
an den krieg

Close-up of poppy flower with dew or rain on it, above other red, orange, purple, and white flowers.

eine nichtigkeitserklärung
des nichts

eine liebeserklärung
an die liebe

an alle
ans all

Christina Egan © 2014

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014 / 2016.


My insistence on writing poems about flowers is a reaction to Bertolt Brecht’s often-quoted suggestion that a conversation about trees borders on criminal negligence because it is silent about atrocities. In the poem An die Nachgeborenen from the 1930’s he exclaims:

“Was sind das für Zeiten, wo
Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein Verbrechen ist
Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten einschließt!”

Brecht’s idea is  startling and ingenious; but I hold that all praise of a flower or a bud is a praise of life and peace: ‘a declaration of war / against War… a declaration of love / to Love.’

Also, if you have read a few of my poems, you will have noticed that they do not describe flowers and trees alone, but use them as images for human life and joy, suffering and death. ‘Poems about flowers’ has 35 words — but amongst them are ‘nothingness’ and ‘the universe’!

Under the Blue Bloom of the Tree

Under the Blue Bloom of the Tree

Under the blue bloom of the tree,
O little mouse, I buried thee.
I heard thee often run until
I saw thee lying, small and still.
So high the sky, so late the light
ascending to midsummernight…
The deep warm earth is now thy bed,
with snow-white petals for a spread.
Fresh spikes of lavender I chose
and last, a minuscule red rose.
Tonight, the ceanothus tree
will scatter sky-blue dust on thee.

Christina Egan © 2017

White and coloured petals on the ground, beneath ceanothus and carnation.

The mouse grave in the poem. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht
in Purpur, Gold und Lapislazuli.

Die Straße erhebt sich
wie ein Tempel der Vorzeit.

Die Dinge sind rund und reif,
getränkt mit Regen, gesättigt mit Licht.

Feuchtes Gras flammt grün,
üppiges Moos überkleidet den Stein.

Wie Weihrauch steigt
der weiche Atem des Lavendel.

Die Wolken gleißen, gleiten,
Flotte ins offene Blau.

Brüchiger Backstein, zerknitterndes Laub:
Altes blättert ab, zerfällt in tausend Brauns.

Herbst, Kelter des Jahres,
Zeit, Fest der Verwandlung.

Christina Egan © 2001

A very descriptive and colourful poem with a philosophical note:

“Autumn: wine-press of the year.
Time: feast of transformation.”

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.

Sunface

Sunface

Orange clouds on blue sky, mirrored in windows of terraced houses to the left, with silhouettes of large trees to the right.

I smile at the sunface
and soak up the rain
I gather a garland
and wait for the grain

I forage the forest
and furrow the earth
I gaze at the sunset
and wait for the bird

I follow the swallow
its call and its course
it cries and it circles
it sinks and it soars

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014.

This was the tree the bird sang from so sweetly… It has since been felled, so that my garden gets much more light and thrives; so the tree behind it, the bird’s new home! 

 

 

Tausend blaue Sterne

Tausend blaue Sterne

“Tausend blaue Blumen –
eine Galaxie!”
Liest du es und lächelst:
“Welche Phantasie…”?

“Bläulichweiße Sterne
himmelfarbne gar,
lila strahlt die Sonne,
alabasterklar…”Rhododendron (pink blossom), lady's mantle (yellow blossom), nigella (blue blossom) in front of old shed and fence.

Meinst du nicht, ich sehe
was, was du nicht siehst,
der du in der Ferne
diese Verse liest?

Federfeine Blüten
aus der Kümmelsaat,
erste Passiflora
wie ein Wagenrad!

Und die runde Blume
lächelt in das Licht
wie ein schattenloses
Kinderangesicht…

Christina Egan © 2014

Large flat flower in white and purple, with long purple stem, small orange fruit, shiny green leaves.

 

The sky-blue galaxy and purple and alabaster sun of the verse!

Photographs:
Christina Egan © 2013/2016.