Glazed Clay

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.Glazed Clay

Two mighty rivers’ ceaseless flow
beneath a high and cloudless sky;
to either side the ochre glow
of arid countries rolling by;

and here and there a golden maze,
the buildings’ cubes, the cities’ grid:
this jar with blue and brownish glaze
from Babylon still mirrors it.

Christina Egan © 2016

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

The city and country of ‘Babylon’ were under Assyrian rule at the time the little jar was made, but I just used the name as the most familiar for all the civilisations of Mesopotamia.

For a German poem about Babylon with the Euphrates and the Hanging Gardens, see Die Hängenden Gärten.

The perfect elegance of this tiny everyday object is an example for the simple beauty I call for in Fewer Things, where you can also see a red Roman bowl. 

Die Hängenden Gärten / Palmyra Perennis

Die Hängenden Gärten

Schwarz liegt der Strom, von Gestirnen benetzt,
blendend erhebt sich der Herrscher der Nacht
über die Hängenden Gärten,
über den künstlichen Gipfel,
welcher den Hügel ins Flachland versetzt,
welcher den Wald in die Großstadt gebracht,
über die plätschernden Gärten,
über die flüsternden Wipfel…
Flimmernd erhebt sich die Harfe zuletzt,
warm liegt die Stadt in versilberter Pracht.

Christina Egan © 2015

Basalt stone with carved images of trees, with a building, an animal and a man

The city of Babylon. Assyrian, 7th c. BC. —
© The Trustees of the British Museum
(Ref. no. 00032445001)

These musical lines evoke Babylon by night:
the moon and stars reflected in the Euphrates,
the Hanging Gardens rising above the big city,
murmuring fountains and a sparkling harp…
It could be the instrument which rises
sparkling like a star — or its voice.

Palmyra Perennis

Sank auch der stolze Bogen dahin mit dreifachem Seufzer,
ragt uns sein Bildnis im Geist schwerelos über dem Sand.
Sind auch zum Staube gekehrt der Ahnen goldene Hallen,
tragen das Erbe wir fort: sanften Triumph der Vernunft.

Christina Egan © 2015

For a picture of the ruins of Palmyra and a comment on
this poem on enlightenment, please look at my
MOTTO.

The view that cultural vandalism should be recognised as
a war crime akin to genocide has been discussed recently.