The Odd Word

The Odd Word

In this noise this dust this waste
of the traffic the toil
the relationships the part-time
part-heart commitments
the remorseless rap from the radio
the news of murder and treason the trash
worth millions of dollars the scraps
of subtle philosophy the divine
passionate percussion solos
something went missing
and the problem is
we don’t miss it.

In a café full of words and music
like lightning
somebody mentions Hölderlin
(a poet who went mad
after they had treated him
in a lunatic asylum)
and I remember his odd expression
‘the God’
odd isn’t it
‘the’
must be Classical Greek
I’ll clarify that.

Christina Egan © 1998

The phrase ‘words and music’ allude to 
a poetry event where I met my partner!
At a later reading, I presented this poem.

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Auf dem Riesenrad

Auf dem Riesenrad

Es ruht auf kahlen Wänden
in unserm Rumpelzimmer
und auf verschränkten Händen
ein sonnenroter Schimmer.
Macht das bloß die Gardine,
macht das ein Rosenhimmel?
Ist dies die Holzkabine
hoch überm Stadtgetümmel?
Ach, sei es hingeschrieben
ganz ohne Wortgeflimmer:
Ich will dich immer lieben.
Ich wollte es schon immer.

Christina Egan © 2008

Red wooden cabins on an old ferris-wheel, against a blue and white sky.The old ferris-wheel in Vienna is the one in this poem and in We Married on the Ferris-Wheel.

Photograph: In luftiger Höhe  by Otto Domes (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sambation

Sambation

O daß der Mühlenräderlärm der Plätze
verrauschte wie ein Sommerwolkenbruch,
das grelle purzelnde Geröll der Menge
versiegte in der Großstadtstraßenschlucht,

auf daß das Flußbett sich durchwandern ließe
an Pforten, Traufen, Blumentrog vorbei
und nur die Schwalbe in die Stille stoße,
hoch, froh, mit Sichelflug und Silberschrei.

O daß die Lichterstrecken, Lichterhaufen
verblaßten wie das Nordlicht überm Meer,
auf daß die Sterne aus dem Dunkel tauchten
wie ein mit Bronze überglänztes Heer!

Christina Egan © 2017


The mythical river Sambation at the edge of the known world cannot be crossed because it is wild and full of mud and rocks — or even consists of rocks instead of water.

Here, the busy streets of a big city are experienced as a ravine full of tumbling stones, while the screech like grinding millstones; by night, the galaxies of lamplights drown the stars.

The opposite images are the quiet riverbeds of empty streets; the silent sky punctuated by the flight and cry of a swallow; and then the stars re-emerging…

This poem will be published in the German-language calendar Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019 (available from mid-August).

On Crossing the City

On Crossing the City

Sometimes you want to get out of your life
as if off a draughty and noisy bus
and wander along the pavement for miles
round corners, expecting a revelation.

People in books get off on occasion
to escape a track of modest despair,
but you cannot remember where they end up,
presumably just on another bus.

Sometimes you wonder if you caught the right bus
or at the right time, or the right way round,
and if this hectic clockwork of movements
is determined by destiny or by dice.

Christina Egan © 2011

Amongst high, dark, buildings, lawns, trees in blossom, and in the middle, a red doubledecker bus.

 

For a German poem about the quest for meaning and happiness amidst the apparent confusion of a big, busy, city, see my previous post Zugewogen.

 

Photograph: London bus. Christina Egan © 2016

There’s Door on Door

There’s Door on Door

There’s door on door of painted wood
with potted plants and polished brass,
there’s row on row of gabled roofs,
there’s brick and plaster, hedge and grass.

There’s floor on floor of balconies,
above the din, above the dust,
inclusive of commodities,
there’s stone and concrete, steel and glass.

There’s door on door, there’s floor on floor,
but not for me, but not for me –
there’s brick and brass, there’s steel and glass,
exclusive of humanity.

There’s door on door, there’s floor on floor,
but not for us, but not for us –
one has a sofa in a store,
one has an archway in the dust.

Christina Egan © 2015

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

In Praise of Darkness / Lob des Dunkels

In Praise of Darkness

This winter, when the day shrinks
like a lake swallowed by desert,
my lyre shall not praise the light
but the darkness.

When I rise before the sun
and a candle dazzles the eyes,
I will give it space,
watch it dance, entranced.

We have switched on the bright light
and the non-stop stereo sound:
we have switched off the darkness,
the silence, the peace.

Christina Egan © 2015

Lob des Dunkels

Diesen Winter, wenn der Tag schrumpft
wie ein See, von Wüste verschlungen,
lobe meine Leier nicht das Licht,
sondern das Dunkel.

Wenn ich mich vor der Sonne erhebe
und eine Kerze das Auge blendet,
werde ich ihr Raum gewähren,
wie sie tanzt, entzückt betrachten.

Eingeschaltet hat man das helle Licht
und den unablässigen Stereoton;
ausgeschaltet hat man das Dunkel,
die Stille, den Frieden.

Christina Egan © 2015

Much of my work  praises light: sunshine,
summer, solstice; sunrise, noon, sunset…

Yet we need darkness, too: to make the light
shine brighter, to make other sources of light
visible, to gain inner peace.

My previous post, Januarsonne, rejoices in
sunshine in midwinter!