Die Hängenden Gärten / Palmyra Perennis

Die Hängenden Gärten

Schwarz liegt der Strom, von Gestirnen benetzt,
blendend erhebt sich der Herrscher der Nacht
über die Hängenden Gärten,
über den künstlichen Gipfel,
welcher den Hügel ins Flachland versetzt,
welcher den Wald in die Großstadt gebracht,
über die plätschernden Gärten,
über die flüsternden Wipfel…
Flimmernd erhebt sich die Harfe zuletzt,
warm liegt die Stadt in versilberter Pracht.

Christina Egan © 2015

Basalt stone with carved images of trees, with a building, an animal and a man

The city of Babylon. Assyrian, 7th c. BC. —
© The Trustees of the British Museum
(Ref. no. 00032445001)

These musical lines evoke Babylon by night:
the moon and stars reflected in the Euphrates,
the Hanging Gardens rising above the big city,
murmuring fountains and a sparkling harp…
It could be the instrument which rises
sparkling like a star — or its voice.

Palmyra Perennis

Sank auch der stolze Bogen dahin mit dreifachem Seufzer,
ragt uns sein Bildnis im Geist schwerelos über dem Sand.
Sind auch zum Staube gekehrt der Ahnen goldene Hallen,
tragen das Erbe wir fort: sanften Triumph der Vernunft.

Christina Egan © 2015

For a picture of the ruins of Palmyra and a comment on
this poem on enlightenment, please look at my

The view that cultural vandalism should be recognised as
a war crime akin to genocide has been discussed recently.

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:
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.

Am Rad der Weltgeschichte

Ich möcht am Rad der Weltgeschichte stehn

Ich möcht am Rad der Weltgeschichte stehn
Und eine Nacht beharrlich rückwärts drehn
Das Telefon zerfällt in deiner Hand
Der Flachbildschirm entgleitet deiner Wand
Das Internet verweht wie bunter Rauch
Die Rapmusik verebbt im Morgenhauch
Durchs Weltall stürzen Sonden zu uns her
Die schwarze Fahne rutscht vom Schießgewehr
Palmyra schüttelt sich aus Schutt und Sand
Manhattans Splitter fügen sich zum Band

Und wenn die Mauer aus dem Staube steigt
Dann halt ich an – und die Geschichte schweigt

Dann geh ich aus und such und finde dich
Und nichts und niemand hält und hindert mich

Der Rest darf weiterrasseln wie zuvor
Die Mauer stürzt es platzt das Wüstentor
Die rote Fahne sinkt die schwarze steigt
Und Pluto wird gefilmt und Mars erreicht
Das Internet wird um die Welt gespannt
Der Bildschirm schrumpft in deine hohle Hand
Doch mitten in des Lebens Wirbelsturm
Stehn du und ich wie jener Doppelturm

Zweitausendfünfzehn schrieb ich dir dies Lied
Denn ich bin müde und die Zeit entflieht

Christina Egan © 2015

Dense layers of rusty gearwheels.The narrator imagines that he or she can turn back the wheel of history.

Tiny hand-held telephones, huge television screens, and the whole internet dissolve; one after the other, the Arch of Palmyra, the Twin Towers, and the Berlin Wall rise from the debris.

Then the person stops history to find the beloved one this time round and live a new life together, while everything else rolls on as before: the monuments fall, the internet rises, till we arrive back in 2015.

These lines could be developed into a rock song. I imagine hard music which grows more intense until it stops when history stops!

Rusty gear wheels. Photograph by susannp4 (Susann Mielke).