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.

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The Aqueduct of Summer

The Aqueduct of Summer

A mighty bridge delivers, arch on arch,
the elixir of life: the light, the sun.
More yellow blossom blinks beneath each arch.
A milestone stands before arch twenty-one:
Hic aequinoctium, hinc lucis pars.
From equal night and day, the light has won.
This is the aqueduct of summer: March.
Proserpina returns with Phaeton’s run!

Christina Egan © 2016

Tiny bundle of yellow crocusses between massive tree roots, with sparse grass around.

Phaeton is an ancient sun god and Proserpina (or Persephone) a spring goddess who returns from the underworld for the duration of summer.

You will find German poems on the spring equinox at Westminster Bridge, Mitte März  and on the autumn equinox at Der letzte Tag des Sommers ist gekommen  and Hält die Waage Nacht dem Tage.

The Latin quotation is made up…!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

Rhymes / Known

Rhymes

No, our names don’t rhyme well,
we come from far-off lands –
but neither rhyme nor reason
can censor our hands,

those hands that seem created
to grasp the chance, to grasp
each other, tight and quiet,
as if two souls could clasp.

Yes, hills from hills are distant
and can’t wed as they would,
they cannot warp and wander –
but people could and should.

Christina Egan © 2004

Silhouette of low silver-blue mountain range against silver-blue sky, just like in the poem.

Known

I’ve smelt the rarest rose of snow,
I’ve tasted of the sun’s last glow.

I’ve met you on a cloud-veiled ridge,
perhaps the planet’s highest bridge.

I’d looked out long. And now I’ve seen.
I’ve once been loved. I’ve known. I’ve been.

Christina Egan © 2004


The thought that people, unlike mountains, can get to each other across distances, goes back to a Greek proverb.

Photograph: “Kegelspiel” by N8mahl at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Burgberg

Burgberg

I.

Aus dem Nebel tauchen Mauern, scharlachumrankt –
ein Hauch auf der Haut, ein Traum gegen Morgen.

Der Burgberg, ein Eswareinmal,
das sich eine Auferstehung ertrotzt.

Deine Stimme, eine schwingende Brücke,
golden und lockend und unbetretbar.

Dein Gesicht, von den Jahren klarer geschnitzt,
das ich lesen will, lange, wie deine Stadt –

II.

Und wieder Laubhaufen, knöchelhoch, kniehoch,
Nebelschwaden, als wanderte man durch Wolken.

Dem ungreifbaren Weiß enttaucht ein Spitzbogen,
ein Tor: Es führt nirgendwohin.

Der neben einem geht, mit einem redet,
bleibt schemenhaft. Vielleicht ist er ein Traum.

Und wieder November. Dreißig Sommer
entblätterten sich in den Wind, in den Wind.

Christina Egan © 2001 (I) / 2017 (II)

Westminster Bridge, Mitte März

Westminster Bridge, Mitte März

Im Überfluß hingeschüttet, schimmernd
und erstmals wieder erquickend
der Sonnenschein, und schon erstreckt sich
aus silbernen Plättchen gehämmert
das Straßenpflaster, entrollt sich
die hellblaue Teppichbahn
des Stromes, schon stemmen sich,
stumme starke Löwenflanken,
die Brückenpfeiler empor, ragen
lotrecht die Honigwaben
der Sandsteinfassaden, rasselt
endlos das bunte Geröll
der Menschenmassen vorüber…

Und unabwendbar naht sich
die Machtergreifung des Lichtes.

Christina Egan © 2014


 

The rhythmic stream of words recreates an everyday and vibrating scene: the enlivening flow of the spring sunshine; the rolling-out of a silver carpet and a blue carpet — Westminster Bridge and the River Thames; an avalanche of colourful boulders or pebbles people from all over the world; and the upward pull of the bridge pillars and mighty buildings — the Houses of Parliament.

Prag, golden

Prag, golden

Im Meerblau des Abends,
im Windschutz der Burg
ersteigen die steilen
sandfarbnen Stufen
zwei Schatten und flüstern
und lachen und schweigen.

Schleier, besetzt
mit zahllosen Perlen,
die Büsche im Regen;
Kelche, geblasen
aus purpurnem Glas,
die berstenden Blüten.

Landschaft von Türmen,
spiegelnde Schluchten –
Bilder in Winkeln
des unruhigen Herzens,
Erinnerung an Träume,
an Heimat der Zukunft.

Reigen von Brücken,
behütet von Engeln,
von Helden der Vorzeit.
Türmende Treppen,
hängende Gärten,
Stadt ohne Alter.

Christina Egan © 2004


 My impression may work quite well in a translation software.

If you have the opportunity to visit one city only in Europe north of the Alps, let it be Prague. It is Central Europe in a nutshell. And it is enchanted…

The Czech Republic is a lovely little country anyway, with countless hills and lakes, mediaeval castles and market squares — absurdly romantic!

By the way, two other excellent destinations in Europe, other than Mediterranean, are Tallinn (Estonia) and Bruges (Belgium).

On the Orange Bridge

On the Orange Bridge

I.

The bridge bears tiny trembling lives
across the wild and icy strait,
a miracle of miles.
So moves my life, suspended by

the scarce, but strong and sparkling, stakes
of kisses and of smiles.

Golden Gate Bridge from below, with waves lapping a rocky beach.

II.

If I could pray, my wishes might
arise like incense to the light
and cling to royal robes.
Yet I am weak; all I can give

is work and talk and love and live
on tangy glowing hopes.

Christina Egan © 2008

Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Christian Mehlführer.
‘Featured picture’ on Wikimedia Commons.

I wrote these lines just before I went to San Francisco. Coincidentally, I found it so cold there that I could not cross the bridge on foot even in September! Yet, it is gigantic and awe-inspiring, like many things in America, whether natural or man-made.

P.S.: I did get kissed on the bridge…! Thank you!