La Mer, enfin

La Mer, enfin
(Cimetière marin, Sète)

Ô vagues de vers sincères et idolâtres…
Ce vaste pan de verre d’un vert bleuâtre
Entre cieux et ombres suspendu,
Et cet essaim neigeux de tombes en marbre
Parmi les flammes géantes noires des arbres :
La Mer, enfin. J’ai vu et j’ai vécu.

Ces fleurs en bas, comme lèvres entrouvertes,
Impérissables certes, mais inertes,
Moulues de cet argile du Midi ;
Ces fleurs en haut, rosées et scintillantes,
Ces tressaillantes et minces, mais vivantes !
Le Cimetière. J’ai vu et j’ai écrit.

Christina Egan © 2016

Light-blue sky and light-green ocean in the background, white tombs in the foregrund; in the front, a flat marble slabs decorated with two large pink flowers, one in clay and one in plastic.

 

Paul Valéry’s tomb on the Cimetière marin, which has become famous through his poem. It is shown and played all day in the neighbouring art museum erected as a homage to him.

These lines are closely related to Valéry’s. The durable but lifeless flowers are of clay and plastic; the perishable but living ones blossom on the bushes around. My picture and poem were created in early January!

An automatic translation into English may convey the meaning of  my French homage to Valéry quite well — but not the music of the words!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

Advertisements

Ich knabbre an Träumen

Ich knabbre an Träumen

I.

Ich knabbre an Träumen,
sie machen nicht fett,
sie machen den Mangel
an Leben nicht wett.

Sie füllen die Augen
mit flüchtigem Licht,
zerreißen das graue
Gewölk aber nicht.

Ich trinke Erinnrung
wie Tropfen von Gold
und spür’, wie die Zukunft,
die Zeit mir entrollt.

II.

Bundle of daffodils in front of a wooden fence in bright sunlight.

Ich klammre die Hände
um Murmeln aus Glas
und flüstere Wünsche
ins glitzernde Gras.

Die Murmeln sind tief
in den Taschen versteckt:
Noch nie hat ein Mensch
meine Träume entdeckt,

noch nie hat ein Freund
meine Träume geteilt,
am gläsernen bunten
Geäst sich erfreut.

III.

Es leuchten Narzissen
wie Sterne am Zaun,
wie stille Versprechen
im quellenden Raum.

Doch rinnt mit dem Regen
das Heute dahin…
Mir knistern wie Flammen
die Träume im Sinn,

wie blaßblaue Geister
und hellrote Glut –
O wehe den Menschen
mit Sehnsucht im Blut!

Christina Egan © 2012

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

Acherons Mund

Acherons Mund
(São Miguel, Azoren)

Das Inselreich spricht
in zitterndem Licht,
in zischenden Quellen,
in schwefligen Schwaden,
in schlaflosem Raunen
aus rissigem Grund
am Unterweltsschlund.

Vast surface of rough black rock to the left, gleaming pools of water and steam rising up to the right, mountains in the far background.Das Erdreich bestellt
am Rande der Welt
dem arglosen Wandrer
die Botschaft der Flammen,
die Mahnung der Schatten
aus Phlegetons und
aus Acherons Mund.

Christina Egan © 2016

Hot springs in Furnas, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.
Photograph
by Henryk Kotowski via Wikimedia.

Acheron is the River of Pain and Phlegeton the River of Fire around Hades.

I believe that some Greeks or Phoenicians sailed to the Canary Islands and others may have reached the Azores; this might have influenced their mythology, describing the realms of the dead as a cave of shadows and as a blissful archipelago. More of the latter at Sonett der drei Seen!

You Want to Read This Poem

You Want to Read This Poem

You want to read this poem
time or no time
rhyme or no rhyme.

You want to know
that your face is a flame
in the hidden temple
of someone else’s heart
trembling and steady.

You want to dwell
on the deep-blue dusk
of her dress
of her eyes
of her soul.

You want to believe
one last time
that three hours are enough
to fuel three years of delight
and from there three thousand.

You want to be sure
she will never be too close
never too far
like surges of birdsong
like surf.

You want to read this poem
as if it were a prayer
as if it were a promise.

Christina Egan © 2011


You Do Not Want to Read this Poem

You do not want to read this poem
however much sunlight
however much midnight.

You do not want to plough
through luminous ciphers
of your own beauty
you want to hear it in someone’s voice
you want to see it on someone’s lips.

You want to lift your eyes from the paper
onto her face
you want to lift your hand from the paper
onto her arm
let it rest.

You want to step through this poem
as if it were a secret gate
to the tiered garden
of an ancient manor house
you heard of in a novel.

You do not want a host of poems
a pavement of paper
a quilt of hopes
you want a host of moments
a quilt of memories.

You do not want to read this poem
you want sudden life
before the sun has sunk.

Christina Egan © 2011

The Lavender’s Splendours / dachterrasse

The Lavender’s Splendours

On brittle grey walls,
find brittle grey sheaves
on wire-thin stalks
with tired long leaves…

Lavender with fresh and wilted blossom, next to pale-golden grass.

The lavender’s splendours
of indigo spikes
are ashes and embers:
dull grey with mauve lights.

Yet grasp its pale grains
and grind them to flakes –
and dazzling white flames
will rise when it wakes!

Christina Egan © 2016


dachterrasse

dachterrasse
traumgehege

der straßenkreuzung den hinterhöfen
den baustellen enthobenShrub with bright-red berries on a roof-terrace, with deep-red ivy below.

lavendel und rosen
wuchern und welken

der feuerdorn verheißt
lautlose feuerwerke

Christina Egan © 2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2016

Loss (Rounded is My Life)

Loss

Rounded is my life, a jewel
sparkling in the summer rain,
spinning round the hollow axis
of a loss without a gain.

Will you for one moment only
silently pick up my pain,
hold it in your gentle hands and
watch the white and biting flame?

Will you say: I’ve seen you suffer?
Will you say: I’ve felt the same?
If you know me and you tell me,
then I have not lived in vain.

You alone can see the beauty
of this tall and forceful flame,
of this shadow of abundance,
of this ghost of life’s full game…

Shall I pass unknown, unnoticed,
shall I die in pointless pain?
You alone can read my eyes and
call me by my real name.

Christina Egan © 2013


The first half of this poem describes a bereavement or a loss akin to it, like a miscarriage or a divorce. The second half turns this work into a love poem or a religious poem; as often in my work, I keep it open. Some of these lines could therefore be read at a funeral.

It is June again, and in northern Europe, rain is as characteristic of this month as sunshine is, and it can be as pleasant! The season might also relate, as often in my poetry, to the person’s age: someone afflicted by loss in the midst of life, when they should be thriving.