Cimmerian Summer

Cimmerian Summer

This lifeless gloom: is it the dusk?
This pale white disc: is it the moon?
Is this a mild day in November?
No: in the land of ceaseless mist
this is the sun; the afternoon;
the lightless first day of September.

Christina Egan © 2015


“ἔνθα δὲ Κιμμερίων ἀνδρῶν δῆμός τε πόλις τε,
ἠέρι καὶ νεφέλῃ κεκαλυμμένοι.”

There are the land and city of the Cimmerians,
wrapped in mist and cloud.”  

Homer, Odyssey, 11:14-15


“Britain is set in the Sea of Darkness.
It is a considerable island. This country is most fertile,
its inhabitants brave, active and enterprising….
but all is in the grip of perpetual winter.”

Muhammad al-Idrisi of Sicily, ca. 1154


Homer never ceases to inspire us. Incidentally, I saw a retelling of the Odyssey  last night, at a London playhouse, or rather, amphitheatre! (On this first day of September, the weather is in fact glorious.)

The memory of four clearly marked seasons, full of bright leaves and fruits, and the sorrow about the apparent confusion of the climate are depicted in My Pack of Cards.

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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.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars

The darker the night,
the stronger the stars,
the fiercer the fight
of Venus and Mars.

They fight not each other
but darkness and cold,
they each hold a banner
embroidered with gold.

The later the hour,
the likelier dawn,
with fire and flower
in splendour reborn!

Christina Egan © 2016


This poem takes up my thoughts about the elements in the previous post: here, the male and female principles are involved in a common struggle rather than a struggle against each other.

‘Dawn’ refers to the dawn of the new year in early spring as much as to the time of the day; and springtime is even more unpredictable than daylight, precisely in a northern country.

The First of December

The First of December

The ample, even, hand-like leaves
carelessly crumpled up by the frost
overnight,

the luscious colonies of moss
dusted with ice in the colourless light
of the day.

And we cannot deny this is still only autumn:
the yearly slow and sure descent
towards the cold.

This is the month of shrinking days,
of darkening hair and shivering skin
touched by damp.

This is the season of flickering lights,
some of them real, all of them glimmering
drops of hope.

Christina Egan © 2012

Red Balloon

Red Balloon


In the crowd,
in the too early dark,
the enveloping damp, I rush,
crush onto the red bus, and there,
on the front bench, you are, as if waiting
for me, or at least hoping for me, with a smile,
a wide warm smile, just like the one you gave me
nineteen years ago, with the same smooth oval face;
and our words change the day into a string of pearls,
change the city into a cluster of colourful balloons;
in the damp dark evening, I feel the sun rising,
feel a breeze rising, taking my heart with it,
like a little red balloon, weightless,
into shadeless heights, we are
two bouncing balloons
on a red bus!
And
I love you
so





Christina Egan © 2016

This little story may work in a translation software.
There is also a wedding or anniversary poem about a

Yellow Balloon !

Obsidian Mirror / Orangenzweig

Obsidian Mirror Mirror made of a deep-black polished stone, on a wooden base.

The moonless night, the iron gate,
between the trees the winding path,
the nameless pond: a polished plate,
obscure and truthful looking-glass –

The moonless night, the nameless pond,
the outline of a cruel fate:
the leaves are shed, the blossom gone –
It is too late – It is too late.

Christina Egan © 2015

 

Orangenzweig

O Traum von Liebe, Traum von Licht
Oranges hanging from branches against blue skyauf einem duftenden Gesicht,
vom kleinen Rosengartenglück
aus einem mächtigen Geschick,
vom Dasein als Orangenzweig,
an Blüte reich und Frucht zugleich,
vom ganz bescheidnen Paradies,
das dir und mir ein Gott verhieß…
O Traum, der niemals untergeht –
Es ist zu spät. Es ist zu spät.

Christina Egan © 2016


 

The two poems contain an echo, and echo each other, in the phrase ‘It is too late’ — ‘Es ist zu spät’, which emphasises the futility of wishes and plans when fate is irrevocably against them.

Obsidian is a very dark and very hard stone. Some ancient civilisations used polished slabs as mirrors. Apparently, they were also employed for fortune-telling!

Photograph: Aztec mirror, Museum of the Americas, Madrid. – Simon Burchell via Wikimedia Commons. – Orange branch: Christina Egan © 2012.

In Marrakesch (Einst fiel ein Regenbogen)

In Marrakesch

Einst fiel ein Regenbogen auf die Wüste
zersplitterte in funkelnde Oasen
in Perlen Spiegel abertausend Tücher
in Brunnen Palmen abertausend Rosen

Zum Regenbogen wird der Horizont
zum schwarzen Drachenkamm das Hochgebirg
und über kühnen Türmen hängt der Mond
wenn Dunkelheit das Mauerrund umwirbt

Und immer Hupen Räder Rufen Reden
Laternen Tänzerinnen wie zum Fest
Dies ist die Stadt wo jede Nacht das Leben
ein Feuerwerk ist: Dies ist Marrakesch!

Christina Egan © 2012

There is a longer version of this poem, as lyrics for a love song, for once a happy one…

This text may work in a translation software. You can read an English poem about Marrakesh at Winter Sunrise in Morocco.Vast square by night, illuminated by lamps in market stalls, with the sunset along the horizon and a massive minaret showing. The Square of the Dead is incidentally the most lively place on the planet. You must visit it after dusk to get the full experience. Nothing prepares you for Marrakesh!

Photograph: Square of the Dead, Marrakesh, Morocco. Christina Egan © 2012