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! 

 

 

April Rules the Land

April Rules the Land
(April haiku)

April rules the land,
leaden and golden in turns,
wayward as we are.

*

Oxford Street, busy,
a splintered rainbow, patterns,
shaken and broken.

*

The white narcissus 
sings with a voice as sweet as
her brother blackbird.

Christina Egan © 2000

The last haiku originally referred to ‘the ivory rose’, although in England, outdoor roses do not blossom yet in April. When I changed the wording to ‘the white narcissus’ to link it to the season and month, I did not know that the flower’s official name is Narcissus poeticus, or Poet’s Narcissus!

The ivory rose
sings with a voice as sweet as
her brother blackbird.

Proteus / Daedalus

Proteus

Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds:
as grand and graceful, as remote,
from silver changing into gold,
and changing shape, and changing whereabouts.

Your beauty is the one of Proteus:
I’m bound to watch it swirl and stay,
afraid your heart will likewise sway,
innocuous and gay and treacherous.

Your beauty is the one of Morpheus:
I’m bound to drink it in a dream,
afraid of stumbling on that stream,
with ghostly flowers studded, murderous.

Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds.
your ever-present smile the gleam
behind their soft and tousled seam…
Your soul is what your face reveals and shrouds.

Christina Egan © 2012

Daedalus

I watch the condor pass:
lofty and lonely,
steady and strong,
improbable like Daedalus…

I watch the condor pass
and want to follow him
across the barren peaks –
I want to touch the clouds…

Christina Egan © 2012

Ashen Land (For Syria)

Ashen Land
(For Syria)

The only offspring left calls from the eaves.
Some houses have a hundred hollow wounds,
and hamlets of a dozen centuries
surrender to contending winds their rooms.

The olive-trees stretch out their silver leaves
like angels’ feathers in a cry for peace.
Where is the comfort for a bird that grieves,
the peace for ashen land? Is it beneath?

It is beneath the nettles and the shards,
beneath the venom seeped into the field;
it is above the silver heaps of stars,
seed of unimaginable yield.

Christina Egan © 2016

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.

I found this marvellous illustration on Wikimedia Commons long after I wrote the poem. I had not even thought of the silver bark and leaves resembling ashes…

In the past few years, millions of Syrians have lost their homes and possessions, or their jobs or studies, or their health or their limbs, or their loved ones or their own lives. The national liberation movement has turned into an apparently bottomless civil war, a literally insane religious war, and a vicarious war of outside powers. This conflict will change the face of the Near East and the face of Europe. Meanwhile, the suffering continues.

Let us pray for peace in Syria. All together.

höhlenmenschen / cavemen

höhlenmenschen

die treppe rollt
hinab hinab
die u-bahn grollt
fährt ein fährt ab

der tunnel biegt sich
durch die nacht
der aufzug hebt sich
aus dem schacht

die masse schiebt sich
durch die schlucht
ein wabern webt sich
in die luft

ein sonnenstrahl
blitzt auf vom glas
ein vogelschwarm
stiebt auf vom gras

der rest ist schatten
stahl und stein
dies ist die stadt
tritt ein tritt ein

Christina Egan © 2015

cavemen

the staircase bores
into the ground
the tube train roars
goes round and round

the tunnel bends
through rock through black
the lift ascends
the narrow gap

the masses heave
through deep ravines
fumes waft and weave
through all these streams

a glint of sun
reflects off glass
a pigeon swarm
explodes from grass

the rest is shadow
steel and stone
this is the city
welcome home

Christina Egan © 2015


This poem — created in parallel in both languages — questions the notion of progress by observing its epitome, the world city, with its underground tunnels and dark gorges between skyscapers.

You can read more laments about the strain of our urban environment in the previous post, Amidst the rush / Schrumpft die Welt, and find some relief in When Webs of Steel / Von stählernen Waben.

Epithalamium (A Hundred Snowflakes)

Epithalamium

A hundred snowflakes melting in your hair,
and every one a different ornament;
a hundred swallows weaving in the air,
each on its own encrypted message bent;
a thousand roses, beauty pure and bare,
each goblet filled with subtly varied scent;
a thousand leaves consumed in festive flare,
each spelling out its special testament…
So how much more are you – a human face –
unheard-of and unequalled in your blend?
I chose you from a thousand for your grace,
fulfilling and surpassing what I dreamt.
So by your side I take today my place,
while unnamed blessings blossom and descend.

Christina Egan © 2014

An epithalamium is a wedding song; a Continental sonnet
has 8 + 6 lines. Here, the first eight lines present images
from the four seasons; the last six lines state that humans are
more complex and individual than any natural phenomenon.

Some German poems on the uniqueness of each person can be
found at
Einer von Millionen and Hieroglyphe.

Green Blood

The plant on the window-sill

Lush Christmas cactus on window sill, appearing to reach out to the viewer, with little cacti around.

It is shining, it is glowing,
while the sun is rising high!
It is stretching, it is growing,
so am I, oh, so am I!

It is breathing, it is throbbing,
full of blossom, full of birth!
It is floating, it is bobbing
on the bubble of the earth!

Christina Egan © 2015


Fist-sized cactus with large star-like flower on long firm stalk. Palm-tree shaped red plant in background mirroring the flower's shape; white rose petals on ground mirroring its colour.Die Macht der Königin der Nacht

In der Mittsommermitternacht
ist ein schneeweißer Stern mir erwacht,
eine bebende Blütenblattüte:
Mit heimlicher Königsmacht
hat ein Kaktus den Funken entfacht,
eine klare Trompetenblüte!

Christina Egan © 2013

 


The Tree at the Corner

Shiny reddish bark, paper-thin and frayed, on a straight round tree-trunk.I gather air and light,
I filter drop on drop,
till there is liquid life:
my waving hands’ green blood.

I give you air and shade
with my bright canopy,
till there is solid gold
through age-old alchemy!

Christina Egan © 2015


 

Was der Baum im Winter tut

Bare branches against sunset in mauve and apricot; high mountains along horizon.Mit tausend nackten Zweigen hält der Baum
gleich einem gläsernen gewölbten Kelch
die Gänserufe und den Amselsang,
das gleißend hingegossne letzte Gold
und dann das Pfauenblau der frühen Nacht…
Und jene Stille wie ein Geigenklang.

Christina Egan © 2013

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2013/2014/2016


These lines portray plants as living creatures and active participants in this universe.

The non-descript pot-plant stays in its place, yet it gives and takes, grows and procreates — and presumably enjoys life, particularly in spring.

Around summer solstice, the humble cactus suddenly pushes out an unlikely flower, shaped like a trumpet and dazzling like a star: it has revealed itself as a Queen of the Night!

The everyday tree turns the inanimate elements into living matter; and it brings forth beauty even while that life turns towards death again in autumn.

Around winter solstice, the bare tree perceives the beauty of this earth — sunset and dusk, birdsong and silence — or at least, it forms part of this array for us.