Ripples of People

Ripples of People
(Spring Equinox)

*

Ripples of people,
uneven waves, sudden whirls,
fast currents of cars:
a wayward river within
a canyon of grand buildings.

*

These neat white windows,
row upon row, road after road,
a thousand eyes
trying to catch light, praying
to touch the feeble sunset.

*

Christina Egan © 2013

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Knightsbridge, London,
in the last days of March — after equinox! —
when after months of dull and dark skies,
you may still be desperate for light and warmth.
For similar poems in German, see Alles drängt vorwärts.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016

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

On the Orange Bridge

On the Orange Bridge

I.

The bridge bears tiny trembling lives
across the wild and icy strait,
a miracle of miles.
So moves my life, suspended by

the scarce, but strong and sparkling, stakes
of kisses and of smiles.

Golden Gate Bridge from below, with waves lapping a rocky beach.

II.

If I could pray, my wishes might
arise like incense to the light
and cling to royal robes.
Yet I am weak; all I can give

is work and talk and love and live
on tangy glowing hopes.

Christina Egan © 2008

Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Christian Mehlführer.
‘Featured picture’ on Wikimedia Commons.

I wrote these lines just before I went to San Francisco. Coincidentally, I found it so cold there that I could not cross the bridge on foot even in September! Yet, it is gigantic and awe-inspiring, like many things in America, whether natural or man-made.

P.S.: I did get kissed on the bridge…! Thank you!

Zugewogen


One year later:
My 125th post!


Zugewogen

Altar, bright golden, in church, Neo-Gothic, with plenty of lit candles beneath.In den Gezeiten des Lebens,
in dem Getriebe der Stadt
suchst du verzweifelt, vergebens
Liebe, die Zukunft hat.

Tritt ins Portal einer Kirche,
schau’ in die flackernde Flut,
entzünd’ eine winzige Kerze
und wisse: Alles wird gut.

Alles ist zugewogen,
Liebe und Freude und Leid;
niemand wird je betrogen
um Sinn und um Seligkeit.

Christina Egan © 2011

St Ludwig, Berlin (near Ku’damm).
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

“Everything is weighed for you, love and joy and suffering; nobody will ever be cheated out of meaning and of bliss.”

I believe this beyond any doubt, although not everything will come all right this side of death. Lighting a candle in a place of worship in the midst of our busy lives gives us comfort and peace at any rate.

This poem on faith and destiny was published in a previous edition of the  Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender. The 2017 calendar is available now, with 52 photographs and 52 poems and addresses (one of them by me: psalm für dich).

Nonnenkloster

Nonnenkloster

Initial of mediaeval manuscript, filled with monks and nuns singing from such a missal on a lectern above them; in gold and bright red, blue and green

Schneegleich
steigt Schweigen
aus den steilen Wänden,
aus den gefalteten Händen,
den vornübergeneigten Schleiern.
Und doch ist alles ein Feiern,
als sei, wenn es schneit,
ein Staub von Gold
über die Gärten gestreut…

Zeit, Zeit
tickt hier laut
in den langen dunklen Uhren,
in den blankbefliesten Fluren,
weil die Ewigkeit
sie so beschwert
wie Wasser eine weiße Schüssel.
Und jeder geschmiedete Schlüssel,
der gegen ein Gitter klappert,
klingt
wie ein Versprechen,
das Gott nicht brechen will.

Sunlit walled flower garden with sturdy stone cross in corner

Es singt
am Rasenrand
der Schneeglöckchenchor,
ein besticktes Band.

Und jede ungeschmückte Wand
durchdringt
das goldne Schweigen
wie der Frühlingssonne sanfte Hand.

Christina Egan © 2006

I owe this overpowering experience of peaceful silence to the Carmelite monasteries of London (Most Holy Trinity) and Cologne (Maria vom Frieden), which are based on a philosophy of shared “silence and solitude”.

Photographs:
Liturgical book for Eastertide (1450s).
Sailko via Wikimedia Commons. —
Nunnery garden, hidden in the midst of a big city. Christina Egan © 2014

On the Volcano’s Rim

On the Volcano’s Rim

Goldstaub
(Lanzarote)

Hoher blauer Himmel,
weißer Wolkenflug,
ungestüme Winde,
rascher Schattenzug

über rote Halden,
über graue Höhn,
über grüne Matten,
wo schon Sterne stehn:

abertausend Blüten
wie ein Frühlingslied,
Goldstaub, den die Sonne
aus dem Erdreich zieht!

Christina Egan © 2015

Gold Dust
(Lanzarote)

Blue sky, ever higher,
white clouds in full flight,
winds wilful and forceful,
swift change of the light

across the red boulders,
across the grey height,
across the green lichen,
where stars tremble bright:

a flourish of flowers
and spring in a splash,
the gold dust the sun
can draw out of the ash!

Christina Egan © 2015

Dreaming Dragon
(Lanzarote)

Dew-drops sparkling in all colours
on the mighty coal-black craggy
shoulder of a dreaming dragon:
so these tiny tender flowers
perch on the volcano’s terrace –
fire, earth and wind distilled
to a dainty dotted quilt.

Ceaseless gales and sleepless fire,
ashes fed with salty dew –
ocean and volcano brew
flora’s early, lacy layer,
magic carpet in the air,
in the boundless brown and blue…
Dreams are real. Dreams come true.

Christina Egan © 2015

The Hoard
(Lanzarote)

As the mountain bears the flower,
as the giant holds the gem,
so the hour bears my poem:
purple speck on silver stem.

Where a myriad wild flowers
sprout behind the dry-stone wall,
I must gather all my powers
till the heavens hear my call.

Christina Egan © 2015

Valentine on the Volcano
(Lanzarote)

We dance on the volcano’s rim –
although its low and sunken side,
although extinct for centuries –
tossed partly by the wild wind’s whim
and partly drunk with liquid life –
suspended over sky-blue seas!
(I found my love above Teguise!)

Christina Egan © 2015

Plain and mountain range with very dark surfaces, rosy clouds in sky

The little volcano. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2015

These lines all sprang from one of the greatest experiences of my life: climbing a little volcano on the isle of Lanzarote, about which you can find a poetic description in German and English at Isle of Bliss / Insel der Seligkeit.

Gold Dust and The Hoard could equally be set in my native Rhön Mountains, also of volcanic origin, but very far inland and much greener.

The three poems in English only may work quite well in an automatic translator. The first two poems are translations of each other, or rather, parallel creations in German and English, where rhythm and rhyme required some changes in wording. It is better to do it this way, since the message is partly conveyed by rhythm and rhyme!

You could leave out the line in brackets to use the poem for a Valentine’s or anniversary card. Copy that line, though, into your list of places to see — both little towns, Teguise and Costa Teguise, because one has got the history and the other one the beach!

This handful of poems almost sums up my work: they describe plants and mountains and the sea; they refer to most basic colours; conclude with thoughts on art and religion and love; and use the beauty of language to capture the beauty of the world.