Daedalus on the Battlements

Daedalus on the Battlements

You drag your baggage through the crowd,
and from the loud and glaring maze
you spill into the heavy haze
of autumn fog and stifling fumes,
into a tube you crawl through tubes,
into a bullet aimed at space –

You soar, you blink, anticipate
some mellow light, some subtle blues –
And then you float above the dunes
of salty sand, the plains of ice,
the shadow of a sheet of cloud –
You sail above the blazing skies!

Christina Egan © 2016


Another return to Greece with winter sunshine even before I arrived: a sunset above the clouds! — Daedalus escaped the labyrinth by flying from its walls; the flaming sun plays a key role in this myth. 

You may get the sense of this poem quite well in a translation software.

Zauberspruch zur Winterverbrennung

Zauberspruch zur Winterverbrennung

Lohende Flammen, lohende Glut,
schmelzet den Schnee uns, schmelzet den Frost!
Knisternde Äste, knisterndes Holz,
brechet den Bann uns, brechet das Eis!

Christina Egan © 2016

Ancient manuscript (9th/10th c. AD) in neatly written Old High German.

 

These lines were inspired by two things: the German custom of gathering round huge bonfires to drive the winter out; and those few pagan spells in ancient German which have come down to us.

The sound of the hissing flames and the crackling branches is captured in the verse. The power of winter is interpreted as a spell, an ordeal of darkness and cold, which this spell, the chant or prayer of man, can break.

 

The only pagan spells in Old High German, probably written down in Fulda monastery in the 9th or 10th century AD. – Photograph: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cascades of Light

Cascades of Light

Cascades of light,
of mild, corn-coloured fire:
the sun pours itself out, down,
down across the black gulf
of space and time,
a flame, a smile,
onto the open rose,
the waiting face of the earth.

Christina Egan © 2004

Two large orange roses in the sunshine, yellow in the middle, with large healthy leaves.

Psalm

As warming as the sun’s first touch
after an age of ice.

The last love tastes like the first one:
radical, innocent.

No need to confirm with fire,
no need to confirm with words.

The world suspended in your eyes –
then life rolling out like a yellow-green valley.

Christina Egan © 2004

Vast lush meadow, with blue creek in the middle, under blue sky.

Photographs: Roses on the small island of Föhr, meadows on the tiny island of Hooge, both in the North Sea. Christina Egan © 2014.

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.

Tâter pour une langue

Tâter pour une langue

Il me manque les mots…
Ils flottent sur les flots :
turquoise… îlots…
glaciers et glaçons…
le bateau, le ballon –
ardoise… sillage…
nuit et naufrage –
sans peindre une scène,
sans rendre une chaîne,
parure, ceinture,
magie d’écriture !
Ô langue étrangère,
étrange, passagère,
je te cherche, te chasse,
je regarde dans ma tasse –
il me manque les mots !

Christina Egan © 2016


These lines describe the struggle to write literature in a foreign language. The poet has to look into her coffee-cup for inspiration…

The sequence of words appears to be disconnected but does produce the outline of a scene or story — a vague turquoise and grey image of a dangerous voyage — which also scans and rhymes. So there is the poem!

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

On the Orange Bridge

On the Orange Bridge

I.

The bridge bears tiny trembling lives
across the wild and icy strait,
a miracle of miles.
So moves my life, suspended by

the scarce, but strong and sparkling, stakes
of kisses and of smiles.

Golden Gate Bridge from below, with waves lapping a rocky beach.

II.

If I could pray, my wishes might
arise like incense to the light
and cling to royal robes.
Yet I am weak; all I can give

is work and talk and love and live
on tangy glowing hopes.

Christina Egan © 2008

Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Christian Mehlführer.
‘Featured picture’ on Wikimedia Commons.

I wrote these lines just before I went to San Francisco. Coincidentally, I found it so cold there that I could not cross the bridge on foot even in September! Yet, it is gigantic and awe-inspiring, like many things in America, whether natural or man-made.

P.S.: I did get kissed on the bridge…! Thank you!