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.
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!


Dem Herausgeber des “Echtermeyer”

Dem Herausgeber des “Echtermeyer”

Du sammeltest leuchtende Lieder,
den mannigfaltigsten Strauß,
du trugst vom Parnassus hernieder
Gedichte in jedermanns Haus.
Verklungen ist längst deine Stimme,
im Schattenreich deine Gestalt,–
doch fesselst du unsere Sinne
durch eherner Worte Gewalt.

Christina Egan © 2015

Vixi, et, quem dederat cursum fortuna, peregi;
et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago.

Virgil, Aeneis IV, 653–654 

The name of this writer, Ernst Theodor Echtermeyer (1805-1844), became proverbial for a standard anthology of German poetry. It went through many mutations, and the latest editions are officially titled “The Echtermeyer”. Without this book, I would not be what I am!

We know little about Theodor’s life, but I have tried to imagine two key moments in his life: when he understands he is in love and decides to marry; and when he understands he is so ill that he must die soon. Theodor an Emilien  is written in the first person singular in 19th-century German.

Proteus / Daedalus


Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds:
as grand and graceful, as remote,
from silver changing into gold,
and changing shape, and changing whereabouts.

Your beauty is the one of Proteus:
I’m bound to watch it swirl and stay,
afraid your heart will likewise sway,
innocuous and gay and treacherous.

Your beauty is the one of Morpheus:
I’m bound to drink it in a dream,
afraid of stumbling on that stream,
with ghostly flowers studded, murderous.

Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds.
your ever-present smile the gleam
behind their soft and tousled seam…
Your soul is what your face reveals and shrouds.

Christina Egan © 2012


I watch the condor pass:
lofty and lonely,
steady and strong,
improbable like Daedalus…

I watch the condor pass
and want to follow him
across the barren peaks –
I want to touch the clouds…

Christina Egan © 2012