By the River I was Sitting

By the River I was sitting

By the River I was sitting
Watching barges floating by
Like the clouds so full of promise
In the blue and burning sky

Bearing jewels, bearing silver
From the mountains crowned with snow
Bearing spices, sweet and fiery
From the jungles down below

By the River I was waiting
For a boat to pick me up
Till the oars were folded inward
And the city-gates were shut

On my roof-top I was watching
Night like lapis-lazuli
While the stars were slowly rolling
Round the tiny lonely me

By Two Rivers I was dwelling
In a house of golden bricks
In my dress of snow and silver
Waving to intrepid ships

When the stars had come full circle
Strangers broke my city-gate
And my boat lay by the palm-trees
Finest date-wine was its freight

And it flew against the current
And it floated with the storm
Till I climbed the purple mountains
Where the River Twins are born

Christina Egan © 2011

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.

 

This song of the woman by the river is taken
from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011).

Place: City of Ur, Mesopotamia — Time: 2000 B.C.

Photograph: Assyrian jar (9th to 7th c. BC).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Rhymes / Known

Rhymes

No, our names don’t rhyme well,
we come from far-off lands –
but neither rhyme nor reason
can censor our hands,

those hands that seem created
to grasp the chance, to grasp
each other, tight and quiet,
as if two souls could clasp.

Yes, hills from hills are distant
and can’t wed as they would,
they cannot warp and wander –
but people could and should.

Christina Egan © 2004

Silhouette of low silver-blue mountain range against silver-blue sky, just like in the poem.

Known

I’ve smelt the rarest rose of snow,
I’ve tasted of the sun’s last glow.

I’ve met you on a cloud-veiled ridge,
perhaps the planet’s highest bridge.

I’d looked out long. And now I’ve seen.
I’ve once been loved. I’ve known. I’ve been.

Christina Egan © 2004


The thought that people, unlike mountains, can get to each other across distances, goes back to a Greek proverb.

Photograph: “Kegelspiel” by N8mahl at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

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.

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum,
im Frühlingswind verloren und im Traum…

Ich schaue auf die blauen Höhn,
die kühn wie Vorzeitbauten stehn.
Ich lausche auf den Vogelsang,
in meinen Adern steigt ein Drang!
Ich schaue auf den Horizont,
von dem mir meine Hoffnung kommt.

Ich steh’ im Felde wie der Lindenbaum,
in Frühlingsnacht verloren und im Traum…

Ich schaue auf die Stadt im Tal
mit Erdensternen ohne Zahl.
In meinen Adern steigt der Saft,
ich streck’ mich mit versteckter Kraft!
Bevor noch süß die Linde blüht,
blüht früh und süß der Linde Lied.

Christina Egan © 2012

The mountain range on the horizon is the Rhön and the city in the valley is Fulda, Germany. There are more lines to this poem to make a song of it: part wistful and part hopeful, part heavy-hearted and part light-hearted!

The phrase ‘Town in the valley’ is echoed in the poem of the same name, Stadt im Tal.

Proteus / Daedalus

Proteus

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

Daedalus

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

In Marrakesch (Einst fiel ein Regenbogen)

In Marrakesch

Einst fiel ein Regenbogen auf die Wüste
zersplitterte in funkelnde Oasen
in Perlen Spiegel abertausend Tücher
in Brunnen Palmen abertausend Rosen

Zum Regenbogen wird der Horizont
zum schwarzen Drachenkamm das Hochgebirg
und über kühnen Türmen hängt der Mond
wenn Dunkelheit das Mauerrund umwirbt

Und immer Hupen Räder Rufen Reden
Laternen Tänzerinnen wie zum Fest
Dies ist die Stadt wo jede Nacht das Leben
ein Feuerwerk ist: Dies ist Marrakesch!

Christina Egan © 2012

There is a longer version of this poem, as lyrics for a love song, for once a happy one…

This text may work in a translation software. You can read an English poem about Marrakesh at Winter Sunrise in Morocco.Vast square by night, illuminated by lamps in market stalls, with the sunset along the horizon and a massive minaret showing. The Square of the Dead is incidentally the most lively place on the planet. You must visit it after dusk to get the full experience. Nothing prepares you for Marrakesh!

Photograph: Square of the Dead, Marrakesh, Morocco. Christina Egan © 2012