Oktoberbilder

Oktoberbilder

I.

Die weiche Luft wie weißes Brot…
Das erste volle Herbstesrot
hängt überm frischgetränkten Gras.
Die Sonne bleibt durch Dunst versperrt,
doch Astern sprühn ihr Feuerwerk,
und Rosen quellen ohne Maß –
O erdgeborne Sternenpracht,
die uns am hellen Tage lacht,
o buntes Bild auf grauem Glas!

II.

Der Himmel ist mit Blau behaucht,
die Gärten neu in Gold getaucht,
mit Gelb getränkt schon manches Laub;
und selbst das Blatt, das sterbend schwebt,
ist kupferrot wie frischerregt.
Noch einmal kost das Licht die Haut…
Das Windrad saust, die Wolke fliegt,
ein weißer Blütenball zerstiebt –
Zuletzt wird jedes Ding zu Staub.

Christina Egan © 2015

This is the Northern Land

This is the Northern Land

This is the northern land
of loose and juicy ground
where fern and forest glow
and wheat and fruit abound.

This is the continent
where mound responds to mound
and wind resounds on rock –
this is the home we found.

This is the realm of dusk
and star-embroidered night,
of fog caressing lakes…
and then the roaring light!

Christina Egan © 2013

Mountain meadow filling lower half of picture, high trees right behing and mountain range in the distance along the middle, pale blue sky above.

Dammersfeld mountain ridge, Rhön (Central German Highlands).
Two of my great-grandparents grew up with precisely this view. —
Photograph
 by GerritR via Wikimedia Commons.


 

This poem was inspired by the Czech national anthem, Kde domov muj, which entirely refrains from politics and warfare and mainly describes the lush landscape of Central Europe. The Czech Republic abounds with hills and lakes, forests and fields.

My lines cover the whole of Central Europe or the whole continent (including the British Isles): my home is my region, or my country, or Central Europe, or all of Europe — none more so than the other.

The claim that even those who were born there ‘found’ their land may sound strange: yet their ancestors did immigrate one day, even if it was a thousand years or two thousand ago. No one just grew out of the ground. Moreover, most people are arguably of mixed ethnic origin, in our case, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Jewish, Hungarian, and more. No nation is an island.

Ode to London Wall

Ode to London Wall

Moss is conquering your broken stones,
weeds are rooting between your bricks;
but you still stand tall, Wall,
facing the winds, the seasons, the years.

The round foundations of your towers
harbour herbs now, neatly labelled;
but your walkways bore watchmen once,
to guard the goods going round and the people.

You lie at my feet now, tall Wall,
I look down from the walkway above you;
but when I step down by two thousand years,
I see you could shelter me still or crush me.

And then I seem to remember –
we have met before, Wall –
you guarded me indeed –
and I guarded you!

On the treacherous clay we erected you,
in the obnoxious fog and sleet:
even and straight and strong as a rock,
forming a line in the marshy meadow,

forming a square along the vague river,
forming a knot in the net of roads,
from London to Chester and York,
from Paris to Sousse and Palmyra.

O Wall of soldiers and explorers,
O Wall of merchants and accountants:
yes,
you still stand tall and you talk,
you tell me to tell your story to all.

Christina Egan © 2015

High wall of neatly piled stone and brick in the midst of the city

You can see a section of the Wall of London and learn more about it in the Roman Galleries of the Museum of London. A visit there inspired me to write these lines. I talk to the stones as they talk to me; and I pass their story on.

Photograph: Roman city wall near Tower Hill Tube station,
by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz).

London Wall Had Fallen Down

London Wall had fallen down,
brick by brick and stone by stone;
in the crenellation’s crown,
storks and starlings built their home.

London Wall stood in the mud,
but we fixed it brick by brick,
and we filled the wasteland up
with new lanes across the grid.

London Wall was melting down,
but we used it stone by stone;
and we built a bigger town
on the ground of proud old Rome!

Christina Egan © 2015

After the end of the Roman Empire, the Roman City of London was left uninhabited for generations, while a new city sprung up next to it; later, the original precincts became the centre again. This area is now known as ‘The City of London’, although it forms only a small part of the centre of town.

Musical score of 'London Bridge is falling down'

 

This little song alludes to the nursery rhyme London Bridge is falling down.

Winter Views from the Bus

Winter Views from the Bus

*

Pink watering cans
lying flat in the drizzle,
dreaming undisturbed.

*

The yellow front door
in the long row of houses:
It stands out. It smiles.

*

The moon, veiled in mist,
floats in the darkness above
the bright white clockface.

*

Christina Egan © 2012

I was looking at the clocks of St Pancras Station at
King’s Cross, but you could equally observe Big Ben.

There is no ‘London fog’ any more since coal fires were
outlawed — 
yet there are still a lot of mist and fumes…

In northern countries, there is very little colour in winter,
so you need to look out for splinters of colour and rejoice!

November (Im dunkelblauen Nebel)

November

Im dunkelblauen Nebel liegen
gelöst mein Haus und Park.
Mein Herz hat einen Traum erstiegen
und hebt sich still und stark.

Der Herbst hat Gold um Gold gewonnen
mit schmerzloser Gewalt.
Das Mondlicht ist für mich geronnen
zu lieblicher Gestalt.

Christina Egan © 2010

This must be one of the happiest late-autumn poems ever:
exuding peace, evoking beauty, steeped in blue and gold!

Buchenland / Heimaterde

Buchenland

Schon der Frühherbst
Schüttet Nebel aus
Über die Hügel hin
Haufenweis.

So verschwimmt mir der Pfad
Bevor noch die Buchen brennen
Und die stolzen Wiesen vergehn
Zu lustlosem Staub.

Doch unterm zerklüfteten Fels
Sitzt sommersatt das Moos
Blüht mondhell die Distel
Aufs Geheiß verborgener Geister.

Christina Egan © 2013

heimaterde

unter der haut
schimmert sie durch
die rote krume
der ich entwuchs

hinter den augen
blinzelt es vor
das urgestein
schwarz und gewaltig

unter dem haar
wirbeln sie hoch
nebel und wind
die mich umfingen

unter der zunge
schlummert sie noch
die fruchtbare sprache
die mich entfachte

Christina Egan © 2013

The first poem describes an autumnal landscape with trees in flaming colours and fog drifting in the dales. The name, Land of Beech Trees, stems from the times when most of Germany was covered by dense forests.

Nature appears as animate, sentient, and even spiritual: the meadow is proud and the moss content, while hidden spirits command a thistle to blossom bright as the moon.

The second poem reminds us that our bodies are made of the world around us — the air and water, the earth and its fruit, the flesh and bone of our ancestors while our minds are moulded by the language of our parents and ancestors.

The speaker imagines that red soil shines through his or her cheeks and black rock blinks through her pupils, while her hair is softened by thick fog and tousled by rough wind.

526px-Carlina_acaulis_160907These words were inspired by the landscape and climate of the Rhön Mountains in Germany.

Their symbol is a rare wildflower, the silver thistle.

Photograph: „Carlina acaulis 160907“
by Bernd Haynold via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Hält die Waage Nacht dem Tage

Hält die Waage Nacht dem Tage

Sieh, Morgen graut,
sieh, Morgen blaut!
Noch einmal leuchtet grün das Laub,
noch einmal schimmert gold das Haar,
und Mittag bäckt die Früchte gar.

Das Ziffernblatt
liegt sonnensatt,
der Schatten aber rückt hinab.
Der Wein saugt letzten Saft hinauf,
die Felder halten Ausverkauf.

Das Licht entsinkt,
das Jahr verklingt…
Noch einmal wird der Schritt beschwingt,
bevor uns Nebel stumm beschwert
und Sturm uns durch die Haare fährt.

Hält die Waage
Nacht dem Tage,
fällt die Blüte ohne Klage,
treibt der Feuerdorn die Beeren.
Was vergeht, wird wiederkehren.

Christina Egan © 2015