A Patterned Carpet

Silk cloth dominated by vivid pinks and greens.A Patterned Carpet
(July Tanka)

A patterned carpet,
the city is unrolling
between the bus stops…
I roll it up in my eye
and send it on to a friend.

*

Fountain in round basin in park, flanked by large flowerpots

Clouds, high in the sky,
saturated with sunshine,
rapidly drifting –
like currents across oceans,
like thoughts across continents.

Christina Egan © 2012

 

 

The idea of the big city as a woven carpet is  also pursued in the German poem Geflechte.

Photographs: Silk cloth from Madagascar. © The Trustees of the British Museum. — Schloßgarten Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

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Lilac and Lime

Lilac and Lime

Vase with small but very bright flowers, mainly raspberry-pink and lemon-yellow, like fireworks, against turquoise table and turquoise sheet.It is coming at last! With the singing wood
of luminous lutes, with trumpets and drums,
in garments and feathers of lilac and lime,
of honey and rose, with stately stride,
with canter and caper, the pageant of summer
is wending its way and filling the valley
with birds and butterflies, blossom and breeze.

Christina Egan © 2008

Little tree with apple-green leaves in a park in average summerly green

For a German poem about the pageant of summer, see geh aus mein herz.

 

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2013 / © 2014.

Der Hunger / This Is

Der Hunger

Der Hunger aber
Des Herzens ist gewaltig,
Heimlich und reißend,
Gleich des Löwen Rachen,
Des Vulkanes Fauchen.

Hilflos ist der Mensch
Mit seinem gescheitelten Haar,
Seinem hochgeschlagenen Kragen,
Seinem gestiefelten Schritt,
Seinem geflügelten Wort.

Niemals nämlich
Entkommt der Gewandte
Dem Befehle des Lebens,
Dem Feuersturm
Im eignen Gebein.

Christina Egan © 2013


This Is

Your face, lit up,
perhaps, by me,
eclipses morning star and moon –
one word from you,
or more, maybe,
would freeze the clock at burning noon.

Don’t stop your step,
don’t hold your breath,
don’t soothe yourself it is too soon:
this is the life
as strong as death
that you have craved for. Let it bloom.

Christina Egan © 2004


Two large poppies almost touching, looking like goblets filled with sunlight.For love is strong as death,
    passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
    all the wealth of one’s house,
    it would be utterly scorned.

Song of Solomon, 8, vi-vii.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

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

By the River I was Sitting

By the River I was sitting

By the River I was sitting
Watching barges floating by
Like the clouds so full of promise
In the blue and burning sky

Bearing jewels, bearing silver
From the mountains crowned with snow
Bearing spices, sweet and fiery
From the jungles down below

By the River I was waiting
For a boat to pick me up
Till the oars were folded inward
And the city-gates were shut

On my roof-top I was watching
Night like lapis-lazuli
While the stars were slowly rolling
Round the tiny lonely me

By Two Rivers I was dwelling
In a house of golden bricks
In my dress of snow and silver
Waving to intrepid ships

When the stars had come full circle
Strangers broke my city-gate
And my boat lay by the palm-trees
Finest date-wine was its freight

And it flew against the current
And it floated with the storm
Till I climbed the purple mountains
Where the River Twins are born

Christina Egan © 2011

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.

 

This song of the woman by the river is taken
from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011).

Place: City of Ur, Mesopotamia — Time: 2000 B.C.

Photograph: Assyrian jar (9th to 7th c. BC).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

City Made of Dreams / Stadt aus Träumen

City Made of Dreams

This is the city made of dreams: it knows
no end. Its splendid roads roll on and round
the bristling castles and across the mound
and down across the squares. Its fabric glows.
But right below this net of rugged ground
a second net of ample pathways flows:
the rivers and canals in sparkling bows;
below the bridges, barges go around.
I stand astounded, lost amongst the towers
and giant spires, and walk on for hours…
This is the ancient city without end.
A steep and green embankment is resounding
with laughter and guitars, with life abounding.
This is the Queen of Flanders: this is Ghent.

Christina Egan © 2018

Castle with turrets directly on high street, with life-size statues of historical figures in front.

Stadt aus Träumen

Dies ist die Stadt aus Träumen. Ihr Gehege
ist grenzenlos. Die stolzen Straßen klimmen
empor den Hügel, strömen um die Zinnen
und über Plätze, leuchtendes Gewebe.
Doch unter jenem rauhen Netz der Wege
sieht man ein zweites weites Netz sich krümmen,
Kanäle oder Flüsse glitzernd rinnen,
und Boote gleiten unter breite Stege.
Ich steh verwundert, wandere verloren
im riesenhaften Wald von Türmen, Toren…
Dies ist die Altstadt, die kein Ende kennt.
Die steile grüne Böschung hallt mir wider
vom frohen Rhythmus der Gitarrenlieder.
Dies ist die Königin von Flandern: Ghent.

Christina Egan © 2018

Bridge over river lined by ancient stone and brick buildings with steep gables.

In both languages, the poem follows the same strict sonnet form.

There are only five rhymes, placed as: abba – baab – cce – dde. The final line is linked to one other line, with both of them carrying the main message together: “This is the ancient city without end. / This is the Queen of Flanders: this is Ghent.”

There are also enjambments, particularly “it knows / no end”: unusually, a very short sentence is cut in half so that the vastness of the place is felt in the pause at the end of the line.

The verse are also full of assonances and alliterations and other sound clusters, e.g. “verwundert, wandere” and the corresponding “stand astounded”. In this way, the form of the poem corresponds to the content, a description of a web of roads and rivers and a forest of towers and battlements.

Form and content cannot be separated. This is an essay; the above is a poem!

Photographs of Ghent: Christina Egan © 2018.

Chandelier

Chandelier

At last, the air is warm again; the sky
at last gets gradually infused with light,
the clouds are dusty blue and creamy white:
the colours, too, warm up, warming the eye.
And that pale cliff of buildings, sheer and high,
gets saturated with the same delight
and holds it up against the sinking night:
this half-forgotten gentle golden dye.
And here, above the square of glittering grass,
above the blossom bursting on the trees
which trembles when the wilful spring winds pass,
there floats another sparkling tree, it seems:
a thousand particles of precious glass
struck by the grand piano’s swelling breeze.

Christina Egan © 2013