Quiet Fire

Quiet Fire

In balmy darkness
I was floating
over sand and salt,
along the garland of lights,
below the curtain of stars…

One fell.
In a flash, I thought of
my distant beloved one,
in a flood, it came back,
the impossible future.

Decorative paper, black with ripples in grey, white, purple.He, too,
had come like a shooting-star,
fair, fast, in a sweeping curve,
with careless grace,
like a message from life.

Cold is the sea now and rough,
with dullness tainted the days
and the sparkling tent of the night.
The quiet fire has passed:
the face that mattered.

Around me is autumn,
and I know that spring will return
and my youth will not.
The voice that struck me is silent;
and my heart eats death.

Christina Egan © 2012

A memory of the Mediterranean Sea, where one can swim, and swim even in after dark, even into autumn…

Decorative paper. Image provided by British Library through Flickr.

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Septembertraum

Septembertraum

Warm wird noch einmal der Tag,
hält die Verfärbung des Laubes auf
und verführt das Grün überm Grund
zu Gewändern in haltlosen Farben!
Scharlach und Schnee und Ultramarin
rütteln die Flügel der Seele auf…

Mild wird noch einmal die Nacht,
als läge der Frühling vor unseren Füßen,
ausgerollt bis zum Horizont,
statt des unabwendbaren Herbstes.
Silbern und sanft steht der Park
und klar wie ein Kristall der Traum.

Christina Egan © 2014

Front gardens with brick walls, flower pots, rose tree.

A warm September day lures new flowers — in bright red, snow white, deep blue — instead of the inevitable discolouring of the leaves, while the night is still ‘silver and gentle’. 

For a moment of suspense, instead of autumn spring seems to be unfolding before us…

Not necessarily an autumnal equinox  event, but very much in the spirit of it.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

Tranquil Dragon

Tranquil Dragon

Embroidered with orange lights
are the fanned steel wings of the bridge

suspended in the summer night,
a tranquil dragon bringing luck. 

Wide is the night and warm,
like the dark wine of old and ardent love.

The sky reads the low, slow river
as my eye reads yours in a dream.

Sparkling with lights is the city,
sparkling with lights is my soul.

Christina Egan © 2003


Dragons, of course, are noble and bring luck in Chinese mythology.

I must have been thinking of Hammersmith Bridge in London.

You can read more poems about suspension bridges at On the Orange Bridge (San Francisco) and Rosenquarzkammern (Malmö).

Milder Mai

Milder Mai

I.

In der weißen Marmorwanne
wartet schon ein warmes Bad:
So steht weiche Luft im Marktplatz,
füllt ihn bis zur feinsten Naht,

nimmt die Jacken von den Schultern,
von den Gliedern das Gewicht,
taucht das graue Reich des Nordens
in ein weingetöntes Licht.

II.

Lavender with fresh and wilted blossom, next to pale-golden grass.Wieder wuchert der Lavendel
halbwegs übern Gartenpfad,
birgt in prallen grünen Stengeln
seine süße lila Saat,

säumt die amethystnen Rispen
noch mit Lapislazuli,
jubiliert mit frischer Stimme
in der Sechsten Symphonie!

III.

Little tree with bright-blue blossom, next to pink and blue flowers.Wieder naht die Sonnenwende,
milder, üppiger denn je;
niemals tat so wohl das Leben,
niemals tat es mir so weh.

Selbst die losen Rosenblätter
leuchten wie ein Wolkensaum…
Und ich pflanze unter Tränen
einen himmelblauen Baum.

Christina Egan © 2014


I was thinking of sunlight like golden wine, but it might also a dusk like rosé…

The blue-blossoming tree is a ceanothus; the Sixth Symphony is Beethoven’s Pastoral.

Lavender; ceanothus. Photographs:  Christina Egan © 2016 /© 2017.

 

I Sought the Star / Weihnachtskerzenflamme

I Sought the Star

Weary was, had wandered far…
        Again, it snowed.
Without a doubt, I sought the star
        above the road:

 The star that had been made for me,
        a radiant face,
above the maze of destiny,
        above the ice.

I climbed a random rugged hill –
        and there it burned!
Above a shelter bright and still
        and warm and firm.

And still they glow, the tiny spark
        and snowed-in home,
both given to my hungry heart
        by faith alone.

Christina Egan © 2010


Weihnachtskerzenflamme

Wie eine Weihnachtskerzenflamme strahlt
dein sanftes schmales Angesicht,
auf dem sich langersehnte Freude malt,–
so hell bist du und ahnst es nicht.

Wie hoheitsvolle Rosenknospen stehn
die Hände in dem goldnen Licht,
so zart, als würden sie im Wind vergehn,–
so weich bist du und weißt es nicht.

Christina Egan © 2014


A ‘Christmas Candle Flame’ as an image for a joyful, gentle, guileless face works only where, like in Germany, the tradition of real candles is upheld!

The second stanza compares the person’s hands to tender, graceful, regal rosebuds. The poem appears to describe a child but was in fact written for an adult.

Moment dans la mare

Moment dans la mare
(Boulogne-sur-Mer)

À la plage immense, vidée de la mer,
le vent est trempé du soleil et du sel :
caresse chanceuse de l’univers,
regard maternel rempli d’étincelles.

La mare autour des chevilles surprises,
le sable mouillé, moulé de soleil :
tout ça – l’océan et la boue et la brise –
tout est mêlé et tout est pareil.

Tout est tiède et tout est limpide,
tout est liquide autour des doigts…
Tout est un rêve réel, et le vide
commence à se combler de joie.

Il n’y a pas de bataille, il n’y a pas de triage
de quatre ou cinq éléments lumineux :
plutôt une étreinte éternelle, mariage
de plage et marée, bénit des cieux.

Christina Egan © 2016


The poem refers to the four or five elements which make up the universe, an ancient philosophical concept found in variations in many civilisations.

Greek philosophers held that war, or conflict, between the forces of nature generate everything and challenge us to greatness. I propose that the Greek elements of fire, air, water, earth — and spirit — exist, but work through interaction and union, and that humans grow most when working within and with nature.

This makes harmony instead of conflict the driving force of the universe. It is also a female philosophical approach rather than a traditional male one.

In French literature, the ‘void’ is essential, marking loneliness, mortality, and the pointlessness of life; I want to hold up the ‘void’ or ‘silence’ as an experience of peace and fulfilment, communion with the universe, and a foretaste of eternal life.

When I stood on the beach of Boulogne at sunset, the sky and the sea and the sand were gleaming in streaks of otherworldly purple and orange.

An automatic translation into English may convey the sense of these lines well, but in the original French, they are conceived to sound like music… like waves.

Gelbes Licht

Gelbes Licht

Statue of young man, unfinished, as if the figure were wrestling itself free of the stone.

I.

Du trittst aus dem Beton hervor,
als trätest du aus einer Wand
und durch ein großes goldnes Tor
in blühndes dufterfülltes Land…

Dabei ist’s bloß ein Platz, ein Park
und gelbes Licht und gelbes Laub;
doch wirst du wieder froh und stark
von etwas Wärme auf der Haut.

 

II.Table surface of bright yellow mosaic, with café chairs on the grass, sunlit.

O milder honiggoldner Wein
im Riesenkelch aus Bergkristall:
Noch fließt das Herbstlicht süß und rein.
O Augenblick! O Sonnenstrahl!

Noch fließt die Kraft, noch fließt der Trost,
solang der Himmel zaghaft blaut.
Man weiß nicht, was das Auge kost:
Ist’s gelbes Licht? Ist’s gelbes Laub?

Christina Egan © 2016


‘Young Slave’ by Michelangelo.  Photograph by Jörg Bittner Unna (own work) via Wikimedia Commons.

Roadside café in Morocco in midwinter. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2012.


 

“Still the autumn light flows, sweet and pure… I felt it in England this afternoon, on top of a high building! Yet the line of the last pleasant sunshine is moving inexorably downwards from the northernmost regions through the temperate ones, its duration is shrinking, and so the space you can catch it at… When the light is lowest, though, it starts rising again, growing again.

By the way: “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning, and America will still be the greatest nation on Earth,” President Barack Obama announced during election night 2016. Not so: the United States have definitely exposed themselves not to be the greatest country on earth; and the sun would be darkened on an occasion like 9/11, or a nuclear bomb anywhere in the world, or a natural disaster due to technologies like fracking.