The Lavender’s Splendours / dachterrasse

The Lavender’s Splendours

On brittle grey walls,
find brittle grey sheaves
on wire-thin stalks
with tired long leaves…

Lavender with fresh and wilted blossom, next to pale-golden grass.

The lavender’s splendours
of indigo spikes
are ashes and embers:
dull grey with mauve lights.

Yet grasp its pale grains
and grind them to flakes –
and dazzling white flames
will rise when it wakes!

Christina Egan © 2016


dachterrasse

dachterrasse
traumgehege

der straßenkreuzung den hinterhöfen
den baustellen enthobenShrub with bright-red berries on a roof-terrace, with deep-red ivy below.

lavendel und rosen
wuchern und welken

der feuerdorn verheißt
lautlose feuerwerke

Christina Egan © 2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2016

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The Purple Sea / Das lila Meer

The Purple Sea

I’ve seen the sea turn indigo
and greyish green and brilliant blue:
the wine-red sea that Homer saw
was not a blind man’s dream — it’s true.

I’ve swum in waves of indigo,
I’ve swum in eyes of greenish grey:
the fair-eyed gods that Homer saw
may just for moments cross your way.

Christina Egan © 2015

Das lila Meer

Auch indigo färbt sich das Meer
wie gräulichgrün und leuchtendblau:
Wahr war das Weinrot des Homer –
nicht eines blinden Dichters Schau.

Im Indigo schwamm ich sogar
und auch in Augen von Grüngrau:
Ein göttlich lichtes Augenpaar,
das gibt es manchmal noch genau.

Christina Egan © 2015

The Wine-Dark Sea

Where sky and ocean form a line
of glassy indigo,
the water looks indeed like wine,
a strong and sweet Merlot.

This is the sea that heaped up rocks
and beckoned walls to rise,
the ageless mother of these flocks
of sun-enchanted isles.

This is the sea that brought the fleets
to Carthage and to Troy
on silver-green and bright-blue sheets
which wayward gods deploy.

Christina Egan © 2012

These poems refer to the debate around Homer’s strange colour names: e.g. ‘wine-coloured’ (‘oinops’) and ‘purple’ or ‘maroon’ (‘porphyreos’) for the sea; ‘green-eyed’ (‘glaukopis’) for a person or god with eyes of any fair colour.

While people in antiquity were not yet interested in describing colours and 
despite their sophisticated languages — had only very few words for them, I
believe that on occasion, these can be taken literally.

The first two poems are translations of each other. The colour adjectives oscillate between the languages, and within, just like the sea does…