An Average Life / And All My Youth

An Average Life

The admiral butterfly
a map of happiness
on the burnished green
of the ivy in May

its glamour
its poise
its place in the sun
imagine you had it

bright as a bracelet
fine as a feather
strong as a storm
imagine you were it

and you practised your movements
studied your speeches
turned up in good time –
and your part has been cancelled

the play goes ahead
with you as a servant
in black in the background
required to smile.

Christina Egan © 2010

 

And all my youth I have been old

Amidst the wealth of my existence
I suffer hunger dark and cold
I am invisibly imprisoned
and all my youth I have been old

On narrow shoulders I must carry
my illness like an awkward cross
I am inexorably burdened
by frailty and its offspring loss

Christina Egan © 2010

 

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The Green Dress / Im grasgrünen Kleid

The Green Dress

This green, this green! The purest of greens,
the softest of silk, the smoothest of greens!
It’s mellow and creamy –
and glossy and hard –
it’s distant and dreamy –
and sudden and sharp –
It’s got all the earth in it, fields in full plume,
the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon!
There’s birch in it, ivy –
there’s lemon and lime –
and oceans and icebergs –
and olives and pine –
And the lady beneath the shimmering screen
bears the soul of the earth in the secret of green!
In the gold of her hair
and the blue of her eyes,
in the lines of her limbs
and the flow of her voice
there’s the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon:
a creature of night and a creature of noon.

Christina Egan © 2009


Im grasgrünen Kleid

Ich stehe am Fenster und schaue hinaus,
und niemand bemerkt mein bescheidenes Haus,
und niemand bemerkt mein grasgrünes Kleid,
und niemand bedauert mein aschgraues Leid.

Die Dämmerung wogt, und es rauscht der Verkehr.
Ich stehe und schaue. Und niemand schaut her.
Zuletzt ist es still, und es rauscht nur die Zeit.
Ich weine allein in mein grasgrünes Kleid.

Und einst werd ich fort sein und einst sogar tot,
und nur dieses Liedlein bezeugt meine Not:
Mein Kleid wie der Sommer, mein Haar wie der Herbst,
mein Leben, das niemand als du, Leser, erbst.

Christina Egan © 2016


The woman in the green dress stands for life, fertility, plenty, joy — like the Green Man or Green Woman of ancient pagan traditions, I suppose…

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).

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht

Der Sommer verglüht
in Purpur, Gold und Lapislazuli.

Die Straße erhebt sich
wie ein Tempel der Vorzeit.

Die Dinge sind rund und reif,
getränkt mit Regen, gesättigt mit Licht.

Feuchtes Gras flammt grün,
üppiges Moos überkleidet den Stein.

Wie Weihrauch steigt
der weiche Atem des Lavendel.

Die Wolken gleißen, gleiten,
Flotte ins offene Blau.

Brüchiger Backstein, zerknitterndes Laub:
Altes blättert ab, zerfällt in tausend Brauns.

Herbst, Kelter des Jahres,
Zeit, Fest der Verwandlung.

Christina Egan © 2001

A very descriptive and colourful poem with a philosophical note:

“Autumn: wine-press of the year.
Time: feast of transformation.”

My Pack of Cards

            My Pack of Cards

My pack of cards, when it was new,
was green and yellow, red and blue:
            from grass and leaves
            to golden sheaves,
            from glowing grapes
            to frosty flakes!
The leaves peeked out, unfurled, and grew,
flared up, fell off, when they were due.
            The fruits were round,
            the ice was sound.
            My year was clear,
            my joy was sheer.
My pack of cards is worn and torn –
my world is pale, and I’m forlorn.

            Christina Egan © 2016

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkIn children’s picture books, the four seasons are sometimes painted in four basic colours; everything is in its place, everything is perfect. Of course, it has never been like this: the weather is always unpredictable, particularly north of the Alps.

However, at the place where I grew up — Central Europe — the seasons were more clearly marked and more stable than on the British Isles. I also believe they were more regular: they seem confused and shifted just now. It is disorientating and worrying…

You can find an impression of undefinable weather at Cimmerian Summer whether it is due to the British climate or to global changes, I do not know.

The poem also expresses nostalgia for childhood, when everything on earth seems in its place. It was inspired by children’s picture books, which often allocate four basic colours to the four seasons.

Photograph: Schloßpark Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

Water-Lilies and Reed

Water-Lilies and Reed

Waterlilies with half-open luminous pink and white flowers.White water-lilies,
opening with a pink glow,
like eyes of new-borns,
like the dawn rising and
looking at itself in wonder.

*

The reed unfolding,
tall green screen, finely woven,
around green water.
A forest of reed, towering
above ducks, children, yourself.

For Liu Sun Ye

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph: Liu Sun Ye (Ye Liu) © 2016.

King Spring / König Frühjahr

King Spring

The highway under my window is suddenly flooded with sun.
I see a strange person passing – his face is greenish and long,
his hat is purple and pointed – and followers thronging, hatless.
Is it a pharaoh? A druid? A dancer in fancy-dress?
I’ve spotted a spearhead of petals, magenta pushed up into blue,
the first magnolia flower: King Spring and his retinue!

Christina Egan © 2016

Large long buds above a road, with one opening in bright magenta, the folded petals looking like a hight hat.

König Frühjahr

Die Landstraße unter dem Fenster liegt plötzlich im Sonnenlicht.
Da geht ein fremder Geselle mit grünlichem langem Gesicht
und purpurner spitzer Mütze; Barhäuptige folgen ihm.
Ein Pharaoh? Heidenpriester? Ein Tänzer im Narrenkostüm?
Es ist eine Lanzenspitze, rosenrot hochgereckt,
die erste Magnolienblüte: Ich hab’ König Frühjahr entdeckt!

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph:  Magnolia buds (England, February). Christina Egan © 2016.