The End of Lent

Sext
(Midday prayer)

Amidst a day of darkness,
amidst a life of fight,
the pillars and the organ
build up a vault of light.

Somebody must be present
to hear the silent screams!
There’s help past understanding,
there’s hope beyond all dreams.

But where do you keep hiding?
O Lord, who has left whom?
Dispense a drop of mercy
on each of us this noon.

Christina Egan © 1998


The End of Lent

There’s more to life behind the troubled scene,
more light than mighty, timeless words can mean:
there is a truth that never lies,
a truth that fills the earth
with fragrant breath.

There’s more than we can fathom and esteem,
or ask for, seek for, need, desire, dream:
there is a love that never dies,
a love that will give birth
in very death.

Christina Egan © 1999

Die vierte Frucht

Die vierte Frucht

Vier Früchte blieben uns vom Paradiese
auf unsrer langen Wüstenwanderung,
auf daß durch sie die Kraft des Ursprungs fließe
in tausendfacher Anverwandelung:

Die Liebe lädt in saftigblauer Traube;
die Hoffnung duftet warm wie goldnes Brot;
in bittersüßem Grün neigt sich der Glaube;
die Freude aber lächelt sonnenrot.

Christina Egan © 2018

Für Sr. Caterina von der Freude in Gott

Oranges hanging from branches against blue sky

The four fruits of paradise, an idea I was inspired to by the three Christian chief virtues — faith, hope, love — to which I added joy, another gift or virtue promoted by the same stern author, St Paul. 

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice”.

Phil. 4,4

Love is envisaged as a blue or purple fruit, hope as a yellow one (or a loaf of bread), faith as a green fruit (possibly tasting bitter) and joy as a red or orange one… hopefully all sweet! The colours of the rainbow exist for our nourishment.

Photograph: Oranges in midwinter, in Morocco. Christina Egan © 2012.

Captivity

I.

looking through the lofty glass door
I feel the faint sun on my forehead

I press my hands against the glaze of ice
I grasp the slender handle to crack it

I must lean out of it
I must step out of it

into the sparkling garden below me
into the buzzing street beyond it

I must follow the clouds to the edge of the land
I must follow the winds to the edge of the earth

 

II.

Iron railing in brick wall, like a gate without lock, with view onto green riverbank.tomorrow I will open my eyes
as if I saw the sun for the first time

tomorrow I will get up and go
as if my steps were guided and guarded

I will step out of my mind
into someone else’s mind

I will step out of my eyes
into someone else’s eyes

then I shall touch beauty
then I shall taste life

 

III.

Heavy rusty gate, decorated with swirls, with keys in lock.the summer was short
and long was the winter

I witnessed neither
I looked upon bricks

that was when I realised
how glaring lamps are and how bland

how pages are made of paper
and screens stay stubbornly flat

that was when I faded
from a flag to a shadow

I chewed on the bare bread of hope
turning sweet on my tongue

Christina Egan © 2012

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2018 / 2014.

Im Stand der Sehnsucht

Im Stand der Sehnsucht

Ob ich einst im Stand der Gnade sterbe,
ob im Stand der Sünde, steht dahin.
Eins nur ist gewiß: Als Kind der Erde
suche ich in Stein und Blume Sinn,

setze meine Hoffnung auf die Wogen,
werfe meine Sehnsucht in den Wind,
baue meinen eignen Regenbogen –
eines ungestümen Strebens Kind!

Leben will ich, leben, eh‘ ich sterbe,
Träume kneten in den Teig der Zeit,
denn ich bin ein Kind der reichen Erde
und der reinen fernen Ewigkeit.

Christina Egan © 2011

au jour des ténèbres

au jour des ténèbres

Three tall gothic windows with modern stained galss, abstract and subdued.au jour des ténèbres
une chandelle dansait
au jour des funèbres
une fleur étincelait

à l’heure de silence
une voix m’a touché
à l’heure de souffrance
une main m’a brossé

à l’aube très lente
une étoile est surgie
dans l’âme patiente
la lueur s’élargit

comme si la souffrance
se tintait de bleu
ô douce espérance
qui baigne les yeux

Christina Egan © 2018

This poem was inspired by a French church service where the words ‘souffrance’… ‘silence’… ‘patience’… seemed to echo in the dark church on a dull Good Friday…

Windows in St Nicholas, Ghent. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2018.

Diet of Dreams

Diet of Dreams

My lodgings are perched at the seams
where a canvas of cloud islands leans.
All my life I have nibbled on air,
on a breeze, on a bird chirp, a song,
on a call or a bell or a gong.
I have fed on my speech all along.
The more hope, the less room for despair…
Watching dew-drops in quivering beams,
I am used to a diet of dreams.

Christina Egan © 2006

Layer of orange clouds on blue sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014.

Three Stars / Drei Sterne

Three Stars

Three stars in the sky…
Three lines only to tell you
all my hopes for us.

*

Sneeze

Your sweet face – a sneeze –
as sudden and explosive
as your sweet haiku.

Christina Egan © 2013

Stamp with bright artistic impression of spaceship flying between planets and stars.

Drei Sterne

Drei Sterne am Himmel…
Drei Zeilen für dich, für
all meine Hoffnung.

*

Nieser

Dein liebes Gesicht
– ein Nieser – plötzlich, heftig
,
wie deine Haikus!

Christina Egan © 2016


A haiku is a Japanese poetic form; each poem has only three lines and seventeen syllables, which amounts sometimes to only a dozen words, even with a title. Yet you can say a lot in three lines… The word game is more difficult in German than in English, since the words are longer; translation can be a challenge.

A traditional haiku starts with an image from nature indicating the season; you will see on my haiku pages that I largely follow this rule. These here are different: one is simply romantic and one humorous, and both are about reading and hearing haiku!


 

Illustration: Stamp of 1963. (Scanned by Darjac) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Warten ist der Winter

Warten ist der Winter

Warten ist der Winter, Warten
auf den endlich wieder starken
Glanz, der sanft ins Leben küßt,
was vor Gram verblichen ist.

Einsam ist der kleine Garten,
während Garben aller Farben
unter altem Laub und Moos
schlummern im verdorrten Schoß.

Hilflos ist das lange Darben
für den unbemerkten Garten:
hilflos, doch nicht hoffnungslos,
denn der Himmel ist sein Trost.

Christina Egan © 2012

The First of December

The First of December

The ample, even, hand-like leaves
carelessly crumpled up by the frost
overnight,

the luscious colonies of moss
dusted with ice in the colourless light
of the day.

And we cannot deny this is still only autumn:
the yearly slow and sure descent
towards the cold.

This is the month of shrinking days,
of darkening hair and shivering skin
touched by damp.

This is the season of flickering lights,
some of them real, all of them glimmering
drops of hope.

Christina Egan © 2012

You Want to Read This Poem

You Want to Read This Poem

You want to read this poem
time or no time
rhyme or no rhyme.

You want to know
that your face is a flame
in the hidden temple
of someone else’s heart
trembling and steady.

You want to dwell
on the deep-blue dusk
of her dress
of her eyes
of her soul.

You want to believe
one last time
that three hours are enough
to fuel three years of delight
and from there three thousand.

You want to be sure
she will never be too close
never too far
like surges of birdsong
like surf.

You want to read this poem
as if it were a prayer
as if it were a promise.

Christina Egan © 2011


You Do Not Want to Read this Poem

You do not want to read this poem
however much sunlight
however much midnight.

You do not want to plough
through luminous ciphers
of your own beauty
you want to hear it in someone’s voice
you want to see it on someone’s lips.

You want to lift your eyes from the paper
onto her face
you want to lift your hand from the paper
onto her arm
let it rest.

You want to step through this poem
as if it were a secret gate
to the tiered garden
of an ancient manor house
you heard of in a novel.

You do not want a host of poems
a pavement of paper
a quilt of hopes
you want a host of moments
a quilt of memories.

You do not want to read this poem
you want sudden life
before the sun has sunk.

Christina Egan © 2011