La Mer, enfin

La Mer, enfin
(Cimetière marin, Sète)

Ô vagues de vers sincères et idolâtres…
Ce vaste pan de verre d’un vert bleuâtre
Entre cieux et ombres suspendu,
Et cet essaim neigeux de tombes en marbre
Parmi les flammes géantes noires des arbres :
La Mer, enfin. J’ai vu et j’ai vécu.

Ces fleurs en bas, comme lèvres entrouvertes,
Impérissables certes, mais inertes,
Moulues de cet argile du Midi ;
Ces fleurs en haut, rosées et scintillantes,
Ces tressaillantes et minces, mais vivantes !
Le Cimetière. J’ai vu et j’ai écrit.

Christina Egan © 2016

Light-blue sky and light-green ocean in the background, white tombs in the foregrund; in the front, a flat marble slabs decorated with two large pink flowers, one in clay and one in plastic.

 

Paul Valéry’s tomb on the Cimetière marin, which has become famous through his poem. It is shown and played all day in the neighbouring art museum erected as a homage to him.

These lines are closely related to Valéry’s. The durable but lifeless flowers are of clay and plastic; the perishable but living ones blossom on the bushes around. My picture and poem were created in early January!

An automatic translation into English may convey the meaning of  my French homage to Valéry quite well — but not the music of the words!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

Toys / Baskets / Bowls

Toys

I
scanned
the
scattered shapes
heaped around me and picked out
the flowers and fresh fruits and fleeting clouds filled
with sun and added some slanted squares of marble and slate and
trunks of birch-trees and fashioned my finds into this
spinning-top. Just don’t ask what
it means. It’s a toy
I made for
you !

***

Baskets

The most delicately plaited words
still awkward, thick like things.
Bent over pads of paper,
the poet labours, late,
dexterous, impotent
to convey music,
silence…
peace.

Christina Egan © 2012


Roman_bowl_01_MusLon

Bowls

Like bowls of ordinary wood,
robust, adept, like workers’ tools,
these hands seem empty. Yet they are
filled to the brim, invisibly:
with jewel-like ideas the one,
the other with tranquillity.

Christina Egan © 2012

Roman bowl. Photograph from the
website of the
Museum of London.

Tâter pour une langue

Tâter pour une langue

Il me manque les mots…
Ils flottent sur les flots :
turquoise… îlots…
glaciers et glaçons…
le bateau, le ballon –
ardoise… sillage…
nuit et naufrage –
sans peindre une scène,
sans rendre une chaîne,
parure, ceinture,
magie d’écriture !
Ô langue étrangère,
étrange, passagère,
je te cherche, te chasse,
je regarde dans ma tasse –
il me manque les mots !

Christina Egan © 2016


These lines describe the struggle to write literature in a foreign language. The poet has to look into her coffee-cup for inspiration…

The sequence of words appears to be disconnected but does produce the outline of a scene or story — a vague turquoise and grey image of a dangerous voyage — which also scans and rhymes. So there is the poem!

Persephone (die quellenden blüten)

Persephone

die quellenden blüten
Bundle of mauve crocusses, seen fro mthe side, transparent in the sunlight.die rollenden wolken
wie flüchtige schrift –
die dürstenden blätter
der perlende regen
das spielende licht –

der sprühende frühling
das leuchtende lächeln
gesicht zu gesicht –
die atmende erde –
das leben – das leben –
und dann das gedicht –

Christina Egan © 2015

Here is this fortnight’s poem in the
photo calendar
Rhönkalender 2017!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

You Want to Read This Poem

You Want to Read This Poem

You want to read this poem
time or no time
rhyme or no rhyme.

You want to know
that your face is a flame
in the hidden temple
of someone else’s heart
trembling and steady.

You want to dwell
on the deep-blue dusk
of her dress
of her eyes
of her soul.

You want to believe
one last time
that three hours are enough
to fuel three years of delight
and from there three thousand.

You want to be sure
she will never be too close
never too far
like surges of birdsong
like surf.

You want to read this poem
as if it were a prayer
as if it were a promise.

Christina Egan © 2011


You Do Not Want to Read this Poem

You do not want to read this poem
however much sunlight
however much midnight.

You do not want to plough
through luminous ciphers
of your own beauty
you want to hear it in someone’s voice
you want to see it on someone’s lips.

You want to lift your eyes from the paper
onto her face
you want to lift your hand from the paper
onto her arm
let it rest.

You want to step through this poem
as if it were a secret gate
to the tiered garden
of an ancient manor house
you heard of in a novel.

You do not want a host of poems
a pavement of paper
a quilt of hopes
you want a host of moments
a quilt of memories.

You do not want to read this poem
you want sudden life
before the sun has sunk.

Christina Egan © 2011

dans le verre / Mother-of-Pearl

dans le verre

Glass screen with patterns in black, white and gold, resembling surf and seagulls.les couleurs de la mer
sont versées dans le verre
du présent du souvenir
faites-les resurgir

les couleurs de la mer
de l’argent jusqu’au vert
améthyste et saphir
laissez-les reluire

dans ce vers

Christina Egan © 2016


Mother-of-Pearl

The sea is not blue,
no more is the sky:
that is a child’s view,
a picture-book’s lie.

Whenever the rainbow
touches the sea,
it sprinkles a faint glow
of eternity.

From indigo ink,
to raspberry pink,
with peppermint green
and gold-leaf between…

The sea is not blue,
or grey of some hue:
the sea is a swirl
of mother-of-pearl!

Christina Egan © 2016


Photograph: ‘Rhizome’. Sculpture by Laurence Bourgeois (Lô).
Verse pattern of French poem after Jean-Yves Léopold (J. Y. L.).

Dem Herausgeber des “Echtermeyer”

Dem Herausgeber des “Echtermeyer”

Du sammeltest leuchtende Lieder,
den mannigfaltigsten Strauß,
du trugst vom Parnassus hernieder
Gedichte in jedermanns Haus.
Verklungen ist längst deine Stimme,
im Schattenreich deine Gestalt,–
doch fesselst du unsere Sinne
durch eherner Worte Gewalt.

Christina Egan © 2015


Vixi, et, quem dederat cursum fortuna, peregi;
et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago.

Virgil, Aeneis IV, 653–654 


The name of this writer, Ernst Theodor Echtermeyer (1805-1844), became proverbial for a standard anthology of German poetry. It went through many mutations, and the latest editions are officially titled “The Echtermeyer”. Without this book, I would not be what I am!

We know little about Theodor’s life, but I have tried to imagine two key moments in his life: when he understands he is in love and decides to marry; and when he understands he is so ill that he must die soon. Theodor an Emilien  is written in the first person singular in 19th-century German.