Beetles on the Ark / Urban Copse

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Der Erde Auge / Dragon Island

Der Erde Auge
(Kaali, Estland)

Hier ist der Wald nur Wimpernkranz
um jadegrünen Augenglanz,
der immer träumt
und immer wacht,
der nimmer weint
und nimmer lacht.

Der Erde Auge schaut hinauf
in tausendfachen Sternenlauf:
Ein schwarzer Stein
mit Feuerschweif
schlug donnernd ein
und schuf den Teich.

Und um den runden Kraterrand
gehn hundert Menschen still gebannt:,
Sie schlendern her
zu eitlem Schaun
und schreiten schwer
in grünem Traum.

Berührt vom fernen Sternenschlag
sind tausend Jahre wie ein Tag.
Die Sonne fülllt
das Himmelsrund,
und urgrün quillt
der Augengrund.

Christina Egan © 2016


Dragon Isle
(Iceland)

Dark is the mid-morning sky,
shaded the treeless land,
granite the road of the sea,
burnt the abandoned strand.

Dragons looming like hills
have stirred from a century’s daze
to spew some sparks and some ash
before they set glaciers ablaze.

Christina Egan © 2010


The first poem, ‘The Earth’s Eye’ describes a startlingly green and perfectly circular lake in Estonia — a timeless, mythical place, caused by a meteorite crashing several thousand years ago, but within human memory.

The second poem was inspired by the news of a volcanic eruption on Iceland. Mythical creatures take on real life: not that hills look like dragons, no, dragons disguise themselves as hills…

I have also written a sonnet about the twin crater lakes of Sete Cidades (Azores). and a number of poems about the volcanoes of Lanzarote (Canaries).

Jetzt und jenseits / Now and Beyond

Jetzt und jenseits

In der Stille, in der Helle,
wo die Kerze steht und blüht
oder Welle über Welle,
Wolke über Wolke zieht,

in der Stille, in der Hülle
des Gewölbes oder Walds
quillt der Friede, quillt die Fülle
jetzt und jenseits unsres Alls.

Christina Egan © 2015

Shallow sandy beach and blue sea water filling lower half of picture, sky-blue sky with a few clouds above. Exudes tranquillity.

Now and Beyond

In the stillness, in the light,
where the candle blossoms bright
or where wave flows after wave,
cloud on cloud and breeze on breeze,

in the stillness, in the cave
of the vault or wooded pond
flows the fullness, flows the peace
of the now and the beyond.

Christina Egan © 2015


In the Hebrew bible, ‘peace’ (‘shalom’) is defined ex positivo, as it should be, not ex negativo: it means abundance and fulfilment, not absence of war or conflict.

Similarly, in the Christian tradition, ‘quiet’, ‘silence’, ‘solitude’ often imply awareness, peace of mind, presence of God, rather than absence of sound or lack of company.

Photograph: Beach of Wyk on Föhr, Germany. Christina Egan © 2014.

The City Lit Up

The City Lit Up

I lived between Ilex and Salix,
just north of Londinium Town,
and sometimes I climbed to the moss-well
between the oaks and looked down.

I looked at the thatch and the roof-tiles,
as red as the embers beneath,
I looked at the timber and marble,
the highways connecting the heath,

the gates, the walls and the broad bridge,
the fields afloat on the clay;
and I wondered if London would stretch
as vast as the valley one day,

Pond in park, surrounded by bare trees, with tiny island

as vast as Rome, which had risen
from marshes and slopes long ago,
with columns touching the heavens
because the gods willed it so;

and if Rome could ever be shrinking
and sinking into the bog,
or London be burning or flooding
and melting into the fog…

The city lit up in the sunset
and faded away in the dusk;
I felt the chill in the oak-wood,
and down to my villa I rushed.

I entered the gate by the willows
and strode through the dolphins’ yard,
I passed the flickering torches
and stopped by my forefathers’ hearth.

Roman mosaic of a mansion

My name was Appius Felix,
an heir to Aeneas of Troy;
I kept the seals and the idols
to pass them on to my boy.

I used the sword and the saddle,
I held the lyre and quill.
I lived between Ilex and Salix,
at the foot of the Moss-Well Hill.

Christina Egan © 2016


As you can see from the 100-metre-high summit of the Muswell Hill, London does stretch for many miles nowadays, filling the valley to both sides of the meandering River Thames.

You will also notice that there are large patches of green everywhere, some of them left over from ancient marshland and woodland. If you know your way, you can walk across London through woods and meadows, across hills and along rivers for miles!

My Roman observer lives in modern-day Wood Green or Bounds Green, near fictitious hamlets or villas called Ilex (holly or oak) and Salix (willow or osier).

This man firmly believes that gods guard his city and his country and that spirits guard his home and his family. He pursues some useful career in the service of the Empire, but he is also a bit of a poet.

I named him Appius after the statesman of the Republic who had contributed so much to Rome’s infrastructure as well as intellectual life, and Felix because he counts himself lucky.


 

You can find more on Londinium’s fortifications at Ode to London Wall  and more about its straight or winding highways at Quo vadis?

Photographs: Country villa, late Roman mosaic, Bardo Museum, Tunis. —  Pond in Tottenham, North London. Christina Egan © 2014

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.

vermächtnis

vermächtnis

und wieder dünen. wieder hohes gras.
und meer und himmel hier mit urgewalt.
und wieder du in deiner wohlgestalt.
und mein verlangen sanft und ohne maß.

ich tauch in deine lichten augen ein…
das meer entweicht. es war nur wellenschaum.
der tag verbleicht. du warst ein sommertraum.
ich bin allein am strand. ich bin allein.

wie mars in seinem kupferfarbnen glanz
entsteigt dem wall des kiefernwalds dein bild.
die brandung klopft. und klopft. der boden quillt.
ich kröne dich mit meiner verse kranz.

Christina Egan © 2015

Golden dune, green grass and shrubs, deep-blue sky.

 

This is my poem of the year 2015! It is, as the title states, my Bequest.

Like many other poems, it was inspired by a holiday on the Darss.

 

“Dune in Nature reserve Darßer Ort, Baltic Sea”. Photograph: Andreas Tille via Wikimedia Commons.

Schöpfung (Darß)

Schöpfung
(Darß)

I.

schwebend zwischen ungeheuern
wassern und verwunschnen teichen
will die erde sich erneuern
wälder zeugen dünen häufen

II.

wird die see den see erwählen
kraft die ruhe salz die süße
muß sich blau dem grau vermählen
daß es ineinanderfließe

III.

wie die schaumgekrönte göttin
einst dem wilden meer entstieg
so dem bloßen sand die blüte
und dem wüsten schmerz das lied

Christina Egan © 2015


On the Darß (Darss), you can observe ‘Creation’ at work:
between ocean and ponds, between dunes and woods.

The last poem describes the ‘Creation’ of art as another
natural, elemental, process: beauty born out of pain.

You can read an English poem about the Darss at
Midsummernight Far North.

Parallel English and German poems about a similar
phenomenon on the German North Sea coast are at
Views of North Sea Islands.