Two mighty rivers’ ceaseless flow
beneath a high and cloudless sky;
to either side the ochre glow
of arid countries rolling by;
and here and there a golden maze,
the buildings’ cubes, the cities’ grid:
this jar with blue and brownish glaze
from Babylon still mirrors it.
Christina Egan © 2016
Mesopotamian jar (9th to 7th c. BC) . Photograph: © The Trustees of the British Museum.
The city and country of ‘Babylon’ were under Assyrian rule at the time the little jar was made, but I just used the name as the most familiar for all the civilisations of Mesopotamia.
For a German poem about Babylon with the Euphrates and the Hanging Gardens, see Die Hängenden Gärten.
The perfect elegance of this tiny everyday object is an example for the simple beauty I call for in Fewer Things, where you can also see a red Roman bowl.
Queen of the Night to King Moon
I suck the moisture from the Martian sand
and spend myself in reckless rapid bloom.
I am the Queen of a vast sun-quenched land,
yet subject to the magic of the Moon.
Sieh, vom Zauberstab des Mondes
angerührt mit sanfter Macht
sind zitronengelbe Sterne
wie Laternen still erwacht,
schütten Düfte in die Wüste,
todgeweiht nach einer Nacht –
desto größer, desto süßer
in verdichtet lichter Pracht.
Texts and photograph:
Christina Egan © 2014
You can find another photo of and poem about the Queen of the Night, Die Macht der Königin der Nacht, at the entry Green Blood.
The flowers indeed often come out with the full moon… and mostly last only one day… although they do last a second night.
Cacti must not stay outside overnight in a damp country: if their roots get too wet, they suffer and die. I only put them in the garden to make them and the insects happy… and the people!