Spätes Wiederfinden

Spätes Wiederfinden

I.

Die strohgedeckten Hütten sind verschüttet,
und in den Säulengängen haust der Wind.
Mir ist, als spürt’ ich unter meinen Sohlen,
wo eigne Schritte eingezeichnet sind.

Ich schliff das Pflaster unter den Sandalen,
ich legte jenes Pferd ins Mosaik;
ich wurde dort am Wegesrand begraben
mit meinem Krug voll Kummer und voll Glück.

Very irregular pavement.

II.

Mir scheint, ich hätt’ schon vor Jahrhunderten
in deinen Augen wie ein Gast gewohnt.
Und wenn ich nur den Schlüssel wiederfände,
dann hätt’ auch dieses Leben sich gelohnt…

Was zählen da die wenigen Jahrzehnte,
in denen wir einander jetzt versäumt?
Ein kleiner Aufenthalt in deinen Augen
bringt, was ich in Jahrtausenden erträumt.

Christina Egan © 2011


The fifth year of this poetry blog sets off, as always, with a Roman road or another ancient road!

In the first poem, someone finds the place where they lived and died in a former existence; in the second one, they think they have also found their former love…

The location is imaginary. The three images for the former life all have to do with the earth: the feet and shoes; the mosaics in the floor; the grave by the wayside. Two of the images also refer to wandering, our wandering on earth: the soles wearing the pavement down and the horse in the mosaic. The second poem mentions the status of guest; as the psalms express it, we are all guests on earth.


Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.  International highway, Via Domitia, crossing the forum of Narbonne. I suppose this bit had been much damaged and patched up, since the Romans built entirely straight and smooth roads!

The City Lit Up

The City Lit Up

I lived between Ilex and Salix,
just north of Londinium Town,
and sometimes I climbed to the moss-well
between the oaks and looked down.

I looked at the thatch and the roof-tiles,
as red as the embers beneath,
I looked at the timber and marble,
the highways connecting the heath,

the gates, the walls and the broad bridge,
the fields afloat on the clay;
and I wondered if London would stretch
as vast as the valley one day,

Pond in park, surrounded by bare trees, with tiny island

as vast as Rome, which had risen
from marshes and slopes long ago,
with columns touching the heavens
because the gods willed it so;

and if Rome could ever be shrinking
and sinking into the bog,
or London be burning or flooding
and melting into the fog…

The city lit up in the sunset
and faded away in the dusk;
I felt the chill in the oak-wood,
and down to my villa I rushed.

I entered the gate by the willows
and strode through the dolphins’ yard,
I passed the flickering torches
and stopped by my forefathers’ hearth.

Roman mosaic of a mansion

My name was Appius Felix,
an heir to Aeneas of Troy;
I kept the seals and the idols
to pass them on to my boy.

I used the sword and the saddle,
I held the lyre and quill.
I lived between Ilex and Salix,
at the foot of the Moss-Well Hill.

Christina Egan © 2016


As you can see from the 100-metre-high summit of the Muswell Hill, London does stretch for many miles nowadays, filling the valley to both sides of the meandering River Thames.

You will also notice that there are large patches of green everywhere, some of them left over from ancient marshland and woodland. If you know your way, you can walk across London through woods and meadows, across hills and along rivers for miles!

My Roman observer lives in modern-day Wood Green or Bounds Green, near fictitious hamlets or villas called Ilex (holly or oak) and Salix (willow or osier).

This man firmly believes that gods guard his city and his country and that spirits guard his home and his family. He pursues some useful career in the service of the Empire, but he is also a bit of a poet.

I named him Appius after the statesman of the Republic who had contributed so much to Rome’s infrastructure as well as intellectual life, and Felix because he counts himself lucky.


 

You can find more on Londinium’s fortifications at Ode to London Wall  and more about its straight or winding highways at Quo vadis?

Photographs: Country villa, late Roman mosaic, Bardo Museum, Tunis. —  Pond in Tottenham, North London. Christina Egan © 2014

gesternmuster / Zeit-Räume

A dozen beads of gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian.gesternmuster
(Knossos)

die kolossalen säulen
der stolzen pinien
jener erhabene baldachin
der schutz vor der sonnenflut bietet

die schwarzen weißen blutroten pfeiler
im heiteren palastlabyrinth
jene flecke in einem gesternmuster
das jahrtausendealt ist

Christina Egan © 2016

This is a translation of The pattern of a yesterday . At that post, you can find some photos and a link to an artistic impression of the palace 3,500 years ago.

Photograph: Minoan beads from Crete in gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian, ca. 1700-1500 BC. – © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Zeit-Räume
(Knossos)

Terrassen, Treppen, rote Säulen
zwischen himmelhohen Bäumen,
Marmorschwellen, rote Wände,
um die Ecken neue Treppen…

Wie im Traume muß man wandern
durch die Höfe, durch die Säle,
durch die Wärme, durch die Kühle,
still von einem Raum zum andern…

Schlanke Bäume, schlanke Menschen
stehn vor heitrem Himmel drinnen
in den buntbemalten Zimmern
heute wie vor tausend Jahren.

Keine Läden vor den Fenstern,
in den Türen keine Flügel,
keine Grenzen zwischen Innen,
Außen, Unten oder Oben,

keine Pforten zwischen Heute,
Gestern oder Vorvorgestern
zwischen einem bunten Zeit-Raum
unter Pinien und dem andern.

Christina Egan © 2016