Alles drängt vorwärts

Alles drängt vorwärts

*

Fahrzeug um Fahrzeug,
bunte Menschen, Hunderte,
alles drängt vorwärts.
Durch das Adernetz der Stadt
rollt das Leben, das Sterben.

*

Kein einziger Stern,
bloß Wolken, Nebel und Staub
über den Dächern.
Doch Funken stieben, golden
und rot, über die Kreuzung.

*

Christina Egan © 2015/ © 2017

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Bloomsbury, London,
one in summer and one in winter, one bright light
and one in dim light;  but the seasons and hours
make less difference in London than elsewhere…
For similar poems in English, go to Ripples of People.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016

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Die blauen Fernen

Die blauen Fernen

Fernab der Meere und der mächtgen Ströme
liegt meine Hügelheimat hingebreitet;
mit jeder Wendung, Steigung, die ich nehme,
wird mir der Blick auf neue Höhn geweitet.

Was braucht es Meere, wenn uns Wald und Wiesen
und Feld und Felsen und die blauen Fernen
wie Wellenberge, Wellentäler fließen,
den Schritt beflügeln und das Herz erwärmen?

Die Luft ist rein, mit Duft und Kraft geladen,
die Glieder und den Geist mir zu verjüngen;
und winters werden Schnee und Nebelschwaden
des Eismeers Zauber in die Berge bringen.

Christina Egan © 2016


One stanza of this poem is printed in the Rhönkalender 2018
with a photo from that part of the Central German Highlands; the whole poem will appear in the 
Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019.

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.

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 poem has meanwhile been published in the Rhönkalender 2017.

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!