Spell of the Orange-Tree

Spell of the Orange-Tree

The orange-tree is growing,
the orange fruits are showing
and glowing in the dark.
The moon’s translucent fire
is woven into wire
by spiders on the bark.

Oranges hanging from branches against blue sky

The silver light is flowing,
the silver web is growing
and glowing in the dark.
The secret saps are welling,
the golden spheres are swelling
to fortify the heart.

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph: Morocco. Christina Egan © 2012

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Siegeskranz

Siegeskranz

Vor fünfzehnhundert Jahren,
da hab’ ich einen Kranz
aus Lorbeer und aus Ölzweig
gelöst und eingepflanzt.

Mein einst mit dunklem Lorbeer
gekröntes goldnes Haar
blieb fortan ungefeiert
und bleichte Jahr um Jahr.

Nach sieben Sommern aber
bot meine Ölbaumschar
die  bittersüßen Früchte
mit stolzem Lächeln dar.

Und Völker schwollen, ebbten,
und Rom verging in Rauch;
doch aus dem Kreis von Zweigen
entsproß noch Strauch um Strauch.

Und Bäume blühten, dorrten
und sanken in den Staub;
doch immer wieder grünte
das zähe Ölbaumlaub.

Nach fünfzehnhundert Jahren
betret’ ich einen Hain
aus silberhellen Hölzern
und spüre: Er ist mein.

Christina Egan © 2015

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.

Someone plants an olive grove towards the end of the Roman Empire, comes back to earth fifteen hundred years later — and recognises the descendants of her or his trees, which have survived the Dark Ages and are still thriving.

The narrator had taken the original olive shoots from her (more likely, his) victory garland, for instance for a poetic contest; so they could be an image for a contribution to civilisation in late antiquity which is relevant to this day.

For an English story about the end of Rome and its afterlife, go to The City Lit Up.

Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.

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.).

Word Weaver

Word Weaver

More purple clouds than I can count
or weigh or paint for you
or snatch and send them underground
with some surrounding blue…

To one whose windows do not stretch
to spy the heaving sky,
I’ll weave my syllables to fetch
the purple passing by.

To one whose dusk and marble moon
are filtered through a rail,
I must thread silver on my loom
to leave a shiny trail.

I must request the best black silk
to mark the balmy dark…
By day I’ll stitch a roaring quilt
to catch the city’s heart!

Christina Egan © 2016

Drawing of the mechanics of a loom (yarn on rolls, without the frame)The poet describes the world to a prisoner who can barely see the majestic ever-changing sky and the bright busy city surrounding them. The sound and rhythm of the lines emulate the warp and weft of life, so that the words reflect the world — read the poem aloud and you will see!

The other person may be imprisoned by a totalitarian state or indeed by a democratic state, or locked up by their employers or indeed their own family, behind walls and perhaps under a garment. There are many millions of human beings who de facto are prisoners or slaves without being called so.

For poems about time (for instance ensuing generations) and space (for instance a big city) as a tissue, see my post Geflecht / Geflechte. All of civilisation and all of humanity is one web.

The Mechanics of Love

The Mechanics of Love

the mechanics of love
have tolled the hour
have chained my heart
are pulling me towards you

the sunlit hills
of your guileless face
the turquoise surf
of your quiet voice

I cannot distinguish
what determines my steps
the mechanics of love
or your silvery forcefield

Christina Egan © 2012


These lines record some of the fundamental insights of my life: that falling in love is always a blend of true fascination with another person and of sheer emotional and physical need; and that one of the main factors attracting a woman to a man is his voice — utterly underrated throughout history! Perhaps because history has largely been written by men, and so have science and literature ? Well, I hope men are at least subconsciously drawn to a melodious voice, too!

Theodor an Emilien

Theodor an Emilien

Mit tausend dicken weißen Kerzen
Prangt der Kastanienbaum am Tor;
Ich steh’ mit hoffnungshellem Herzen
Im späten Dämmer stumm davor.

Der Vogelsang ist längst versickert
Wie Silberspur ins Dunkelblau…
Doch aus dem Gutshaus tröpfelt, zittert,
Quillt das Klavier wie Abendtau.

Ich mach’ im hohen Gartensaale
Den flinken schlanken Schatten aus –
Und werf’ nach jenem Ankerpfahle
Mein Tau mit einem Male aus.

Christina Egan © 2016


 

The old-fashioned names and inflections signal that this is a scene which happened long ago, a romantic story from the times of Jane Austen, set in Germany. There is a true story behind it, and the ending is happy and sad: the young man waiting hopefully outside the manor house in the summer night, Ernst Theodor Echtermeyermarried Lady Emilie, and they had a child, but they both died very young.

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.