A Window will be Thrust Open

A Window will be Thrust Open

A window will be thrust open
where you forgot there was one,
a glow as of noon will be thrown
over your working hands, over your tired face.

You will look into the mirror
and find upon yourself the gaze of an absent one,
you will look into the eyes of a stranger
and find there your face as if steeped in sunset.

halkett_1938_ohnetitelYou will run down the road
to overtake your shadow,
you will push through all your doubts
to hold that hand, to clasp it tight.

Christina Egan © 2003

 

No title. René Halkett (1938).
Image with kind permission
of Galerie Klaus Spermann.

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My Pack of Cards

            My Pack of Cards

My pack of cards, when it was new,
was green and yellow, red and blue:
            from grass and leaves
            to golden sheaves,
            from glowing grapes
            to frosty flakes!
The leaves peeked out, unfurled, and grew,
flared up, fell off, when they were due.
            The fruits were round,
            the ice was sound.
            My year was clear,
            my joy was sheer.
My pack of cards is worn and torn –
my world is pale, and I’m forlorn.

            Christina Egan © 2016

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkIn children’s picture books, the four seasons are sometimes painted in four basic colours; everything is in its place, everything is perfect. Of course, it has never been like this: the weather is always unpredictable, particularly north of the Alps.

However, at the place where I grew up — Central Europe — the seasons were more clearly marked and more stable than on the British Isles. I also believe they were more regular: they seem confused and shifted just now. It is disorientating and worrying…

You can find an impression of undefinable weather at Cimmerian Summer whether it is due to the British climate or to global changes, I do not know.

The poem also expresses nostalgia for childhood, when everything on earth seems in its place. It was inspired by children’s picture books, which often allocate four basic colours to the four seasons.

Photograph: Schloßpark Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

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! 

 

 

Three Stars / Drei Sterne

Three Stars

Three stars in the sky…
Three lines only to tell you
all my hopes for us.

*

Sneeze

Your sweet face – a sneeze –
as sudden and explosive
as your sweet haiku.

Christina Egan © 2013

Stamp with bright artistic impression of spaceship flying between planets and stars.

Drei Sterne

Drei Sterne am Himmel…
Drei Zeilen für dich, für
all meine Hoffnung.

*

Nieser

Dein liebes Gesicht
– ein Nieser – plötzlich, heftig
,
wie deine Haikus!

Christina Egan © 2016


A haiku is a Japanese poetic form; each poem has only three lines and seventeen syllables, which amounts sometimes to only a dozen words, even with a title. Yet you can say a lot in three lines… The word game is more difficult in German than in English, since the words are longer; translation can be a challenge.

A traditional haiku starts with an image from nature indicating the season; you will see on my haiku pages that I largely follow this rule. These here are different: one is simply romantic and one humorous, and both are about reading and hearing haiku!


 

Illustration: Stamp of 1963. (Scanned by Darjac) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Minerva’s Voyage

Minerva’s Voyage

I.

Minerva by Botticelli

Her hair is the offspring of river and fire,
her robe has been woven from flowers and wind.
Her foot cannot rest and her flesh cannot tire,
her arm is in flow and her eye will inspire
a voyage for wisdom with one  fleeting glint.

II.

Minerva on the Academy of Athens

She dived like a hawk from her shadowless sphere,
the shield on her arm like the sun in the west –
She looms on the roof with her helmet and spear
to capture the lightning, conduct it down here
and spark our restless and glittering quest.

Christina Egan © 2016

Delicate, pale, portrait of the goddess as a young woman in armour.Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and knowledge, arts and applied arts; she came to be identified with the Greek goddess Athena, patron of Athens.

The two poems were  inspired by the two artworks mentioned, as well as a temple on the Agora of Athens dedicated to her as patron of artists and artisans.

Illustration: Minerva by Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1482-83), via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Ice-cream Van is Coming

The Ice-cream Van is Coming

(Nice, Bastille Day 2016)

The ice-cream van is coming
It’s huge and fast and white
And filled with little portions
Of summerly delight

The ice-cream van is coming
It’s driving round the bend
Along the cheerful sea-front
Towards the feast-day’s end

The pretty bunting’s dancing
The solemn banners too
The fireworks are sparkling
Above the silver moon!

The ice-cream van is coming
It’s huge and fast and white
Dispersing now at random
Its freight into the night

It hisses metal bullets
An evil dragon’s breath
A sinister last drumroll
A fireworks of death

The ice-cream van is coming
It’s huge and fast and white
A giant metal bullet
Right into Europe’s side

A land of stone has brandished
The whip of slavery
Against the joy of living
The land of liberty

It will now stand up stronger
In grief and unity
It will now last yet longer
In joy and liberty

Christina Egan © 2016

Vive la France !
Vive l’Europe !
Vive la Liberté !