Aprilabend

Aprilabend
(Schloss Fasanerie bei Fulda)

Der Tag ist hoch; das Licht liegt leicht und lange
auf Moos und Gras und neugebornem Laub,
das jetzt in namenlosem Lebensdrange
fast fühlbar vorwärtsdrängt und blind vertraut.

Das Tal ist weit; die fernen Kuppen ragen
schon wieder kühn und unbeirrbar blau.
Zuletzt sind Schnee und Nebel doch begraben
und alle Linien farbig und genau.

Christina Egan © 2012


 

This impression of a spring evening with its unstoppable urge to live has been published in a previous edition of the Rhönkalender.

The view goes from Schloss Fasanerie (Eichenzell near Fulda, Germany) across the wide valleys towards the Rhön Mountains. You have to have lived in a northern country and suffered through the snow and fog to appreciate the rebirth of light and colour, grass and leaves!

An automatic translation can render most of the meaning, but not the music of the words, which emulates the beauty of nature.

Mitte Februar / Schnee über Nacht

Mitte Februar

Die Welt hat allen Glanz verloren
wie eine ganz verwelkte Frau.
Am Himmel Wolken, Schnee am Boden –
ein Leichentuch von blassem Grau.

Dahinter kämpft mit langem Atem
das fern verbannte Feuerrund:
Unmerklich schmelzen schon die Schatten,
und Farbe braut im Untergrund.

Die schwarzen Zweige sind lebendig,
das nasse Moos voll neuem Saft,
und das ermattete Gelände
wird auferstehn mit satter Kraft.

Christina Egan © 2012


 

Schnee über Nacht

Der Schnee hat wie ein Federbett
die kahle Erde zugedeckt,
begräbt die Schuld,
begräbt den Schmerz
in Gottes gnädiger Geduld,
in Gottes unbegrenztem Herz.

Christina Egan © 2012


Mitte Februar was published in the Rhönkalender 2015 (entitled Ende Februar). The 2017 calendar includes three poems by me and is still available.

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

Views of North Sea Islands

Views of North Sea Islands Ansichten von Nordseeinseln

White cottage, steep thatched roof, covered with moss

 

Thick patches of moss
clustering on rippled thatch
like verdant islands,
like the islands we stand on:
growing in the rough grey sea.

Diagonal horizon, entirely flat between green and blue, with house in middle

Dicke Moospolster
auf dem welligen Reetdach,
gleich grünen Inseln,
gleich diesen Inseln hier,
wachsend im wilden grauen Meer.

Thatched roof, covered with moss

Red clover blossom:
tiny magenta lanterns
in the green and blue,
feeding on the salty floods
across these flat floating disks.

Diagonal horizon, entirely flat between green and blue, with house in middle

 

Rosaroter Klee:
winzige Laternen
in all dem Grün und Blau,
genährt von Salzfluten
über schwebende Scheiben hin.

Thatched roof, covered with moss

 

Huge ships approaching,
or space-ships – or are they hills,
or houses on stilts?
They are houses, hamlets, islets…
a necklace of glass beads.

 

Satellite image of a cluster of small emerald green islands

 

Da – Riesenschiffe –
Raumschiffe – oder Hügel,
Häuser auf Stelzen?
Häuser, Dörfchen, Inselchen…
eine Glasperlenkette.

English texts: Christina Egan © 2015
German texts: Christina Egan ©2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014
Galerie Nieblum on Föhr; Hallig Hooge.
Satellite picture: NASA via Wikimedia.


From the flat, small, oval island of Föhr, you spot the even flatter, even smaller islands known as ‘Halligen’: their clusters of houses and trees on little dells are visible on the horizon far across the ocean.

The Halligen still get regularly flooded and are occasionally menaced by devastation. All these islands change shape over time, when the forces of wind and water eat away at their edges or add new land.

I wrote about a similar phenomenon observed on the Baltic Sea island of the Darss in Schöpfung (Darß).

Ode to London Wall

Ode to London Wall

Moss is conquering your broken stones,
weeds are rooting between your bricks;
but you still stand tall, Wall,
facing the winds, the seasons, the years.

The round foundations of your towers
harbour herbs now, neatly labelled;
but your walkways bore watchmen once,
to guard the goods going round and the people.

You lie at my feet now, tall Wall,
I look down from the walkway above you;
but when I step down by two thousand years,
I see you could shelter me still or crush me.

And then I seem to remember –
we have met before, Wall –
you guarded me indeed –
and I guarded you!

On the treacherous clay we erected you,
in the obnoxious fog and sleet:
even and straight and strong as a rock,
forming a line in the marshy meadow,

forming a square along the vague river,
forming a knot in the net of roads,
from London to Chester and York,
from Paris to Sousse and Palmyra.

O Wall of soldiers and explorers,
O Wall of merchants and accountants:
yes,
you still stand tall and you talk,
you tell me to tell your story to all.

Christina Egan © 2015

High wall of neatly piled stone and brick in the midst of the city

You can see a section of the Wall of London and learn more about it in the Roman Galleries of the Museum of London. A visit there inspired me to write these lines. I talk to the stones as they talk to me; and I pass their story on.

Photograph: Roman city wall near Tower Hill Tube station,
by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz).

London Wall Had Fallen Down

London Wall had fallen down,
brick by brick and stone by stone;
in the crenellation’s crown,
storks and starlings built their home.

London Wall stood in the mud,
but we fixed it brick by brick,
and we filled the wasteland up
with new lanes across the grid.

London Wall was melting down,
but we used it stone by stone;
and we built a bigger town
on the ground of proud old Rome!

Christina Egan © 2015

After the end of the Roman Empire, the Roman City of London was left uninhabited for generations, while a new city sprung up next to it; later, the original precincts became the centre again. This area is now known as ‘The City of London’, although it forms only a small part of the centre of town.

Musical score of 'London Bridge is falling down'

 

This little song alludes to the nursery rhyme London Bridge is falling down.

Buchenland / Heimaterde

Buchenland

Schon der Frühherbst
Schüttet Nebel aus
Über die Hügel hin
Haufenweis.

So verschwimmt mir der Pfad
Bevor noch die Buchen brennen
Und die stolzen Wiesen vergehn
Zu lustlosem Staub.

Doch unterm zerklüfteten Fels
Sitzt sommersatt das Moos
Blüht mondhell die Distel
Aufs Geheiß verborgener Geister.

Christina Egan © 2013

heimaterde

unter der haut
schimmert sie durch
die rote krume
der ich entwuchs

hinter den augen
blinzelt es vor
das urgestein
schwarz und gewaltig

unter dem haar
wirbeln sie hoch
nebel und wind
die mich umfingen

unter der zunge
schlummert sie noch
die fruchtbare sprache
die mich entfachte

Christina Egan © 2013

The first poem describes an autumnal landscape with trees in flaming colours and fog drifting in the dales. The name, Land of Beech Trees, stems from the times when most of Germany was covered by dense forests.

Nature appears as animate, sentient, and even spiritual: the meadow is proud and the moss content, while hidden spirits command a thistle to blossom bright as the moon.

The second poem reminds us that our bodies are made of the world around us — the air and water, the earth and its fruit, the flesh and bone of our ancestors while our minds are moulded by the language of our parents and ancestors.

The speaker imagines that red soil shines through his or her cheeks and black rock blinks through her pupils, while her hair is softened by thick fog and tousled by rough wind.

526px-Carlina_acaulis_160907These words were inspired by the landscape and climate of the Rhön Mountains in Germany.

Their symbol is a rare wildflower, the silver thistle.

Photograph: „Carlina acaulis 160907“
by Bernd Haynold via Wikimedia Commons