Snow-White Patches

Snow-White Patches
(July Tanka)

Daisies, buttercups,
scattered across the lush green
like two galaxies:
humble, ephemeral and
full of the glory of God.

*

Those snow-white patches,
patterns on the lawn, the mulch:
hortensia flowers,
as if cut out from the world
of colours and of motion.

Christina Egan © 2012


Waterlilies with half-open luminous pink and white flowers.

These poems describe the world as an ensemble of patterns. They also try to make sense of the world, and perhaps the act of discovering order also unveils meaning…

Something tiny resembles something gigantic, the whole of the known world, in fact. Something white appears as a hole or an island in the colourful picture: like a shadow of death or a gate to eternity.

 

Cactus seen from above, with two star-like flowers bigger than the body of the cactusThe line ‘full of the glory of God’ was inspired by the verse ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God‘ by Gerald Manley Hopkins.

You can truly ‘see a world in a grain of sand / and a heaven in a wild flower’, as William Blake claimed!

Photographs: Water-lilies. Liu Ye (Ye Liu) © 2016. — Queen of the night. Christina Egan © 2014.

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Rear Mirror

Rear Mirror

Telegraph wires:
a flock of birds turns them into
three lines of verse.

*

No flowerbeds here –
but a line of bright washing
dancing in the wind!

*

A palm-tree appears
in the rear mirror, and huts
in the still lagoon.

Christina Egan © 2018

Washing-line with red, orange, yellow, green clothes, forming a triangle with the matching flower-beds behind.

These haiku about haiku were written looking at three picture postcards, where I instantly perceived patterns and metaphors.

Poetry – and painting or photography – are like rear mirrors which make hidden things visible and ordinary places special.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

Alles drängt vorwärts

Alles drängt vorwärts

*

Fahrzeug um Fahrzeug,
bunte Menschen, Hunderte,
alles drängt vorwärts.
Durch das Adernetz der Stadt
rollt das Leben, das Sterben.

*

Kein einziger Stern,
bloß Wolken, Nebel und Staub
über den Dächern.
Doch Funken stieben, golden
und rot, über die Kreuzung.

*

Christina Egan © 2015/ © 2017

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Bloomsbury, London,
one in summer and one in winter, one bright light
and one in dim light;  but the seasons and hours
make less difference in London than elsewhere…
For similar poems in English, go to Ripples of People.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016

The Green Dress / Im grasgrünen Kleid

The Green Dress

This green, this green! The purest of greens,
the softest of silk, the smoothest of greens!
It’s mellow and creamy –
and glossy and hard –
it’s distant and dreamy –
and sudden and sharp –
It’s got all the earth in it, fields in full plume,
the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon!
There’s birch in it, ivy –
there’s lemon and lime –
and oceans and icebergs –
and olives and pine –
And the lady beneath the shimmering screen
bears the soul of the earth in the secret of green!
In the gold of her hair
and the blue of her eyes,
in the lines of her limbs
and the flow of her voice
there’s the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon:
a creature of night and a creature of noon.

Christina Egan © 2009


Im grasgrünen Kleid

Ich stehe am Fenster und schaue hinaus,
und niemand bemerkt mein bescheidenes Haus,
und niemand bemerkt mein grasgrünes Kleid,
und niemand bedauert mein aschgraues Leid.

Die Dämmerung wogt, und es rauscht der Verkehr.
Ich stehe und schaue. Und niemand schaut her.
Zuletzt ist es still, und es rauscht nur die Zeit.
Ich weine allein in mein grasgrünes Kleid.

Und einst werd ich fort sein und einst sogar tot,
und nur dieses Liedlein bezeugt meine Not:
Mein Kleid wie der Sommer, mein Haar wie der Herbst,
mein Leben, das niemand als du, Leser, erbst.

Christina Egan © 2016


The woman in the green dress stands for life, fertility, plenty, joy — like the Green Man or Green Woman of ancient pagan traditions, I suppose…

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht
in Purpur, Gold und Lapislazuli.

Die Straße erhebt sich
wie ein Tempel der Vorzeit.

Die Dinge sind rund und reif,
getränkt mit Regen, gesättigt mit Licht.

Feuchtes Gras flammt grün,
üppiges Moos überkleidet den Stein.

Wie Weihrauch steigt
der weiche Atem des Lavendel.

Die Wolken gleißen, gleiten,
Flotte ins offene Blau.

Brüchiger Backstein, zerknitterndes Laub:
Altes blättert ab, zerfällt in tausend Brauns.

Herbst, Kelter des Jahres,
Zeit, Fest der Verwandlung.

Christina Egan © 2001

A very descriptive and colourful poem with a philosophical note:

“Autumn: wine-press of the year.
Time: feast of transformation.”

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.

Glasperlenlied

A dozen beads of gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian.Glasperlenlied

Die Stadt ist endlich dunkel, endlich still.
Und in der regenreinen Ruhe quillt
herauf, was unter dem Getümmel lag:
das Teppichmuster unterm Alltagstag.

Die Stunden ziehen bunt an mir vorüber,
verdichten, runden sich: Glasperlenlieder.
Mein Leben ist gering. Ich bin allein.
Doch brennt mein Herz und leuchtet wie der Wein.

Christina Egan © 2011

Minoan beads from Crete, of gold, lapis lazuli and cornelian, at least 3,500 years old.
Photograph
© The Trustees of the British Museum.