London, This Moment of May

London, This Moment of May

I.

London, this moment of May.
High stately building, lower part in deep shade, upper part brightly lit, with red double-decker bus passing.A Grand Canyon in grey,
imperceptibly turning to purple,
with an orange glow on its battlements –
but teeming in all its cracks,
with foam of blossom and bird-flight,
with currents of people and cars.

Not a city, but a county, a country,
a proud world in itself,
the planet in a valley,
an open oblong fruit,
rich with glistening seeds,
in the giant hand of clay
hollowed out by the Thames.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

II.

It is not mine, this city: I borrowed it.
I borrowed it for a home,
for a while,
I borrowed its language,
for good.

Or it borrowed me,
it borrowed my eyes
to mount this tall bus,
it borrowed my mouth
to sing this new song.

I run through its veins
of walls and windows,
of trees and lanterns…
A Grand Canyon in grey.

Or it runs through my veins,
a pale-purple stream,
murmuring, glittering…
London, this moment of May.

Christina Egan © 2013


 

The title alludes to the famous line by Virginia Woolf:
“… what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”
I happened to write my poem in May, on a red bus…


 

P.S.:

A year later, the climate across Europe has slid further into resentment towards foreigners or strangers of any description, be they war refugees or your next-door neighbours. There is a lot of blind anger and fear of vague entities like ‘Europe’ or ‘Islam’. This is the road to racism and fascism.

My essay about my identity as an immigrant to England stayed on the front page of trade union UNISON‘s website for weeks: I dream in English. I come from one country, live in another, and plan to move to a third; yet my main identity is European at any rate!

Winter Sunrise in Morocco / in England

Winter Sunrise in Morocco

Orange tree full of fruit and rose tree with large roses in front of high pink wallsthe rainbow scarf of the sky
stretched out above the battlements

awesome and unnoticed
by the markets which never sleep

and millions of golden roses
rolled out along the highways

in the carved and inlaid caskets
of the powdery-pink courtyards

strings of peach-coloured roses
clusters of orange-blossom and fruit

Christina Egan © 2012

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2012

You can read a German poem about a Moroccan city at In Marrakesch. The buildings and walls of Marrakesh are pink by law!

Around the turn of the year, I found it warm and sunny by day and pleasantly mild by night. In fact, people were hoping for some rain…

Winter sunrise in England

at the edge of the orb of the earth
a mighty web of finest twigs

painted onto leaf gold
by a master’s hand

and then the blob of molten gold
so bright that it seems to melt them too

like a favour from the heavens
like the face of a god

as if life were possible
one more day one more winter

Christina Egan © 2012

In northern Europe, the winter is so hard that by the beginning of spring, you may feel, even if you are not at all old, that it was the last one you reached.

In Germany, it is cold by day and by night for many months, there is snow and ice, and above all, the nights are long and the days often dull so that you may not see the face of the sun for days; in England, the cold is less bitter, but — which is worse it reaches indoors…

Roof-Tile / Plateau

Roof-Tile
(Béziers)

Lower half shows ancient wall with lichen and moss, upper half houses and roofs with motley tiles

A roof-tile, grooved: a hill, a dell,
in broken ochre, earthy red,
with greenish circles in between;
a piece of world, of time a shred.

And then I see: the whole old roof
is such a patch of orange clay –
the whole old town in weathered brown,
resplendent in a tender ray!

Christina Egan © 2016

Plateau
(Béziers)

Roof with motley tiles - Detail of above photo

Life is a gnarled and narrow hill,
so steep as scarcely to be climbed:
you scramble, stumble, slide or fall,
you stay below, you stay behind.

Then opens, through a hedge or wall,
a gap, a gate, an avenue,
a whole plateau, a spilling well,
a plain beneath your startled view!

Christina Egan © 2016

Round basin in park, with trees, houses and statue mirroredTwo views from the ancient city of Béziers in France, which is piled up
on a couple of steep hilltops: the first view is from
the Cathedral tower; the second, from the park called Parc des poètes / Plateau des poètes.

Well… the respite after struggles and setbacks might be found in enjoying or creating art — or in life itself!

Old Town of Beziers, with red roofs dominating, landscape round horizon.While getting lost and strained in the lanes of Béziers reminded me of nightmares, exploring the Cathedral like a giant Crystal Rock  induced me to create the word ‘lightmare’!

Photographs: Béziers from the Cathedral roof ; Parc des poètes. Christina Egan © 2016

Fiery Flowers for Valentine’s Day

RedFlowers_2015Dec15_06

To My Valentine

The lily licking like a fire,
the lily luminous like snow:
I find them both in you, my flower,
I bask in their contrasting glow!

Christina Egan © 2016

 

Two nasturtium flowers in very strong orange with some of their large round leaves in fresh green

 

Zum Valentinstag

In dem feuerfarbnen Blumenstrauß
hab’ ich dir die Sonne eingefangen,
hab’ sie hingezaubert in dein Haus,–
hast du meine Botschaft mitempfangen…?

Christina Egan © 2012

Often, I translate my own verse, but these are two different Valentine poems.

Photographs: Flowers just before Christmas! Christina Egan © 2015

Kretische Küste

Kretische Küste

I.

Vor mir ein grünes Meer, ein roter Strand
und hinter mir die himmelhohe Wand
der Weißen Berge, mit Gesträuch schraffiert,
mit Schluchten aufgeteilt, vom Mond berührt.

Es schwindelt mich, so schroff ist es und schön…
ich möchte mitten ins Gebirge gehn,
als sei es eines Mannes Wohlgestalt
und berge sein Gemüt in jedem Spalt.

II.

Der kupferfarbne Sand wird doch zu Gold,
wo er in steiler Woge niederrollt
und sich mit jenem Brennendblau benetzt,
das kommt und nochmals kommt… und jetzt… und jetzt.

Und Disteln starren in dem dürren Strand,
die plötzlich strahlen wie von Zauberhand,
wenn erster Regen flüchtig niedersteigt
und Brautkleidblüten aus den Blättern treibt!

III.

Wo täglich Himmel sich mit Meer vermählt
und Landes Rand von anderm Strand erzählt,
wo trockne Erde wie der Tagstern loht
von silbriggold bis zu orangerot,

wo noch bei Nacht das Wasser, kaum bewegt,
den Leib in schwerelosem Zauber trägt,
bis in das sanfte Schwarz ein Schweifstern stürzt –
dort laß uns warten auf den milden Herbst.

IV.

Mit riesenhaften grünen Pranken greift
das Meer hinein in den geschützten Kreis
des kleinen Hafens, daß die Mole schäumt
und sich die bunte Schar der Boote bäumt.

Des späten Herbstes erstes Fauchen fährt
in letzte schwere Hitze wie ein Schwert.
Fünftausend Jahre aber ragt die Stadt
ins Element, gelassen, sonnensatt.

Christina Egan © 2014

Flourishes on a mural, turquoise on luminous red and yello

For more poetry and information
on Knossos 
and Chania on Crete
see my English poems
The Pattern of a Yesterday and
Golden Dell.

 

Frieze in the royal palace at Knossos, Crete.
Photograph: Harrieta171 via Wikimedia.

First Autumn Days / Erste Herbsttage

First Autumn Days
(September Haiku)

*

Fiery flower,
still sucking sunshine, still scaling
the wooden fence.

*

The sky turns deep pink
above the first rusty leaves
and burning berries.

*

The moon, low and large,
a knob of solid silver
on heaven’s sceptre.

***

Erste Herbsttage

*

Feurige Blume,
noch saugst du die Sonne ein,
kletterst den Zaun hoch.

*

Tiefrosa Himmel,
erste rostrote Blätter,
brennende Beeren.

*

Der Mond, niedrig, groß,
solide Silberkugel
am Himmelszepter.

*

Christina Egan © 2015

*

Haiku have 5 + 7 + 5 syllables.
The German haiku are translated
from the English ones.

On Orange Sails / Yellow Balloon

On Orange Sails

On orange sails
across the ocean
of the sky,
towards the land
of lust and rest,
the butterfly
must toil and flail,
must drift and dream –
like you and I…
On orange sails
I still woo you,
my butterfly.

Christina Egan © 2014


Yellow Balloon

The matching dreams of you and me
are mellow streams of scented noon,
are yellow reams of solid silk,
to sew into a huge balloon
and blow it up with double breath
and fire it with blazing love
to sail across the heaving sky –
for us, the sea is not enough!

Christina Egan © 2014


There are more poems and a photograph at Orange Butterflies.
There is now also an anniversary poem about a Red Balloon!