Silent Roads

Silent Roads
(Virus Crisis)

limpid morning
liquid noon
falling stars and
swelling moon

roaming foxes
flitting bats
passing faces
passing steps

Red houseboats amongst lush trees and blossoming meadows.real colours
newborn light
flowing hours
breathing tide

sweeping herons
floating boats
swelling meadows
silent roads

real flavour
real sound
real labour
on the ground

nimble hands and
muddy boots
curling vines and
twisting roots

real treasures
on your spade
real colours
on your plate

Tall tomb with urn on top, tilting, on old cemetery.real paper
flowing ink
time to wake and
time to think

time to sleep and
time to slow
time to weep and
time to grow

time to rise and
to rejoice
time to hoist your
real voice

Christina Egan © 2020


While London closed down to protect itself from the 2020 coronavirus, I was cut off from my job and from the internet for a while. (This blog ran on as pre-scheduled.)

I was very fortunate to spend many hours outdoors, working in my garden or walking under the countless trees and along the hidden rivers of London, and through the suburban roads, cleared at last of traffic and crowds. Spring brought splendid sunshine, as if it were already high summer.

There was time. There was air. There was life. For many who were not ill or caring for those who were ill, this must have been one of the best times of their life.


Tottenham Marshes / Tottenham Cemetery. Photographs: Christina Egan © 2020.

die unterseite der ahornblätter

die unterseite
der ahornblätter

die unterseite
der ahornblätter
zu entziffern
bin ich bestellt

die verästelungen
der äderchen
die lebenslinien
und altersflecken

pergament
durchsichtig
gegen das licht
liebesgedichte

bettlerschalen
dankbar und demütig
bischofskelche
frohgemut hochgemut

die unterseite
der ahornblätter
zu besingen
bin ich geboren

Christina Egan © 2019

Die Unterseite der Möwenflügel

Die Unterseite der Möwenflügel
läßt mich die sinkende Sonne erahnen,
das ragende Raster der Fensterspiegel
darf mir ihr blendendes Angesicht rahmen!

Dies ist die Kreuzung voll Hast und Getöse,
Räder und Füße wie wirbelndes Laub,–
dies ist der Augenblick, den ich erlese,
Blitzen und Blinzeln im zehrenden Staub.

Christina Egan © 2019

City Made of Dreams / Stadt aus Träumen

City Made of Dreams

This is the city made of dreams: it knows
no end. Its splendid roads roll on and round
the bristling castles and across the mound
and down across the squares. Its fabric glows.
But right below this net of rugged ground
a second net of ample pathways flows:
the rivers and canals in sparkling bows;
below the bridges, barges go around.
I stand astounded, lost amongst the towers
and giant spires, and walk on for hours…
This is the ancient city without end.
A steep and green embankment is resounding
with laughter and guitars, with life abounding.
This is the Queen of Flanders: this is Ghent.

Christina Egan © 2018

Castle with turrets directly on high street, with life-size statues of historical figures in front.

Stadt aus Träumen

Dies ist die Stadt aus Träumen. Ihr Gehege
ist grenzenlos. Die stolzen Straßen klimmen
empor den Hügel, strömen um die Zinnen
und über Plätze, leuchtendes Gewebe.
Doch unter jenem rauhen Netz der Wege
sieht man ein zweites weites Netz sich krümmen,
Kanäle oder Flüsse glitzernd rinnen,
und Boote gleiten unter breite Stege.
Ich steh verwundert, wandere verloren
im riesenhaften Wald von Türmen, Toren…
Dies ist die Altstadt, die kein Ende kennt.
Die steile grüne Böschung hallt mir wider
vom frohen Rhythmus der Gitarrenlieder.
Dies ist die Königin von Flandern: Ghent.

Christina Egan © 2018

Bridge over river lined by ancient stone and brick buildings with steep gables.

In both languages, the poem follows the same strict sonnet form.

There are only five rhymes, placed as: abba – baab – cce – dde. The final line is linked to one other line, with both of them carrying the main message together: “This is the ancient city without end. / This is the Queen of Flanders: this is Ghent.”

There are also enjambments, particularly “it knows / no end”: unusually, a very short sentence is cut in half so that the vastness of the place is felt in the pause at the end of the line.

The verse are also full of assonances and alliterations and other sound clusters, e.g. “verwundert, wandere” and the corresponding “stand astounded”. In this way, the form of the poem corresponds to the content, a description of a web of roads and rivers and a forest of towers and battlements.

Form and content cannot be separated. This is an essay; the above is a poem!

Photographs of Ghent: Christina Egan © 2018.

Alles drängt vorwärts

Alles drängt vorwärts

*

Fahrzeug um Fahrzeug,
bunte Menschen, Hunderte,
alles drängt vorwärts.
Durch das Adernetz der Stadt
rollt das Leben, das Sterben.

*

Kein einziger Stern,
bloß Wolken, Nebel und Staub
über den Dächern.
Doch Funken stieben, golden
und rot, über die Kreuzung.

*

Christina Egan © 2015/ © 2017

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

These tanka were written in Bloomsbury, London,
one in summer and one in winter, one bright light
and one in dim light;  but the seasons and hours
make less difference in London than elsewhere…
For similar poems in English, go to Ripples of People.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016

Oasis (Marrakesh)

Oasis
(Marrakesh)

All these proud palm-trees,
a thousand and one, now bow
before your beauty.

*

A road of roses,
an avenue fit for a king –
just right for you.

*

Desert dust reaches
for your ankles of marble,
envied by my hands.

*

Christina Egan © 2016


Orange tree full of fruit and rose tree with large roses in front of high pink wallsThis is actually a set of winter poems: Morocco in midwinter is like northern Europe in midsummer! Marrakesh welcomes you with warm sunshine, thousands of palm-trees and tens of thousands of roses in all colours… Around the city, wherever the ancient irrigation system does not reach, the land stretches dry and dusty.

Photograph: Orange-trees and rose-trees within the rose-coloured walls of Marrakesh. Christina Egan © 2012

Verquer

Verquer

Garden furniture jumbled up by storm in front of old wooden shed.Ich schau auf die Straße:
Doch niemand kommt her.
Die Sonne ist prachtvoll,
die Wolken sind schwer.

Ich schau in den Garten:
Die Stühle sind leer.
Die Welt ist betörend,
die Welt ist verquer.

Und niemand, ach niemand
erahnt meinen Schmerz!
Das Leben – ein Schicksal?
Das Leben – ein Scherz?

Wie Weihrauch denn steige
mein Wort himmelwärts,
daß Gott sich mir neige
und wandle mein Herz.

Christina Egan © 2015

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2012.

 

 

um mitternacht (der letzte bus)

um mitternacht

um mitternacht
der letzte bus
die straße strömt
ein dunkler fluß

die häuser schlafen
wand an wand
die bäume ruhn
im brautgewand

um mitternacht
der letzte kuß
die kurze kerze
loht mit lust

der mond hängt schräg
ein heller mund
die stille quillt
aus sattem grund

Christina Egan © 2015


This night scene is so peaceful that everything seems animate
and comfortable: the road is streaming, the houses are sleeping,
the trees are slumbering, dressed in blossom like brides.

Yet the person observing this is restless: seeing bright lips in the slanting
moon crescent, burning up like a candle, and knowing that life is
as short as a candle…

The German word ‘Lust’ could mean ‘lust’, ‘desire’, ‘zest’ or ‘pleasure’!

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

Paths from the Past

Paths from the Past

Flagstone on flagstone,
the pavement unrolls
beneath my eyes,
my resolute feet.

My steps seem to follow
irresistible tracks,
invisible traces,
uncharted faultlines.

Memory maybe
from before my birth?
Destiny maybe
beyond my death?

Flagstone on flagstone,
the story unfolds
beneath my breath,
my dexterous fingers.

Christina Egan © 2015

Straight Roman road with ruins and trees to the left and right, in the dusk

I begin the year with a Roman road for the third time round!

I do not speak of natural or magical force fields but of manmade structures; however, these are imbued with destiny, in that people were meant to build them, move along them, or return to them… perhaps even after thousands of years.

Roman road in Carthage, Tunisia. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014

A Quilt of Light and Shade

A Quilt of Light and Shade

A quilt of light and shade,
a quilt of wind and heat
this solstice has become:
half fervour, half fatigue…

A quilt of sun and rain,
a quilt of green and grey,
brick red and blinding white
this city is today.

The boulevards are streams,
the roundabouts are whirls –
and fleetingly this seems
to be the best of worlds.

Christina Egan © 2012


In London, and in northern Europe in general, the weather is unsteady and unpredictable, even in midsummer. London has got a very great number of buildings in red brick, usually with window frames and decorative features in white, and plenty of trees, gardens, and parks. And it is very, very busy…

The summer solstice is also the subject of the previous post, This Day of June. As I am putting these poems online, there should be daylight till ten at night in England and some blue left in the sky even towards midnight — instead, there is not a ray of sunshine all day, and the sky is dark grey in the afternoon…