gesternmuster / Zeit-Räume

A dozen beads of gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian.gesternmuster
(Knossos)

die kolossalen säulen
der stolzen pinien
jener erhabene baldachin
der schutz vor der sonnenflut bietet

die schwarzen weißen blutroten pfeiler
im heiteren palastlabyrinth
jene flecke in einem gesternmuster
das jahrtausendealt ist

Christina Egan © 2016

This is a translation of The pattern of a yesterday . At that post, you can find some photos and a link to an artistic impression of the palace 3,500 years ago.

Photograph: Minoan beads from Crete in gold, lapis lazuli, cornelian, ca. 1700-1500 BC. – © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Zeit-Räume
(Knossos)

Terrassen, Treppen, rote Säulen
zwischen himmelhohen Bäumen,
Marmorschwellen, rote Wände,
um die Ecken neue Treppen…

Wie im Traume muß man wandern
durch die Höfe, durch die Säle,
durch die Wärme, durch die Kühle,
still von einem Raum zum andern…

Schlanke Bäume, schlanke Menschen
stehn vor heitrem Himmel drinnen
in den buntbemalten Zimmern
heute wie vor tausend Jahren.

Keine Läden vor den Fenstern,
in den Türen keine Flügel,
keine Grenzen zwischen Innen,
Außen, Unten oder Oben,

keine Pforten zwischen Heute,
Gestern oder Vorvorgestern
zwischen einem bunten Zeit-Raum
unter Pinien und dem andern.

Christina Egan © 2016

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
MOTTO.

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:
yes,
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.

Where Road and River Meet

Where Road and River Meet
(Ambrussum, France)

I hold the echo of a thousand feet,
of hob-nailed sandals and of dainty boots;
I hold the echo of a thousand wheels,
of carts and coaches and a thousand hooves.

My inside holds the echo of the waves,
the splashing of the oars, of hands and feet,
the shouts and sighs of children and of slaves:
I am the arch where road and river meet.

I have withstood the floods, withstood the storms;
of once eleven comrades, I’m the last.
I guard the memory with sturdy arms:
I’ll hold your voices, too, when you have passed.

Christina Egan © 2015

Überm Fluß
(Ambrussum, Frankreich)

Den Nachhall halte ich von tausend Schritten,
Sandalen grob und Stiefeln elegant,
den Nachhall auch von tausend Rädern, Ritten,
von Karren und von Kutschen über Land.

Mein Hohlraum widerhallt vom Wellenschlagen,
vom frischen Klatsch von Ruder, Hand und Fuß,
von Seufzer oder Ruf von Kindern, Sklaven:
Ich bin der Brückenbogen überm Fluß.

Ich widerstand den Fluten und den Stürmen;
elf Kameraden einst,nur ich blieb stehn.
Gedenken sammle ich mit starken Armen —
und eure Stimmen im Vorübergehn.

Christina Egan © 2015

Grey Roman arch on two bridge pillars between blue water and blue sky

The remaining arch of the  Pont Ambroix at Ambrussum, once part of the Via Domitia from Italy through France to Spain.


Photograph: By Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent, via Wikimedia Commons.

I begin this year’s posts like last years’: with a Roman road !