My Pack of Cards

            My Pack of Cards

My pack of cards, when it was new,
was green and yellow, red and blue:
            from grass and leaves
            to golden sheaves,
            from glowing grapes
            to frosty flakes!
The leaves peeked out, unfurled, and grew,
flared up, fell off, when they were due.
            The fruits were round,
            the ice was sound.
            My year was clear,
            my joy was sheer.
My pack of cards is worn and torn –
my world is pale, and I’m forlorn.

            Christina Egan © 2016

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkIn children’s picture books, the four seasons are sometimes painted in four basic colours; everything is in its place, everything is perfect. Of course, it has never been like this: the weather is always unpredictable, particularly north of the Alps.

However, at the place where I grew up — Central Europe — the seasons were more clearly marked and more stable than on the British Isles. I also believe they were more regular: they seem confused and shifted just now. It is disorientating and worrying…

You can find an impression of undefinable weather at Cimmerian Summer whether it is due to the British climate or to global changes, I do not know.

The poem also expresses nostalgia for childhood, when everything on earth seems in its place. It was inspired by children’s picture books, which often allocate four basic colours to the four seasons.

Photograph: Schloßpark Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

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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.

The First of December

The First of December

The ample, even, hand-like leaves
carelessly crumpled up by the frost
overnight,

the luscious colonies of moss
dusted with ice in the colourless light
of the day.

And we cannot deny this is still only autumn:
the yearly slow and sure descent
towards the cold.

This is the month of shrinking days,
of darkening hair and shivering skin
touched by damp.

This is the season of flickering lights,
some of them real, all of them glimmering
drops of hope.

Christina Egan © 2012

Oktoberbilder

Oktoberbilder

I.

Die weiche Luft wie weißes Brot…
Das erste volle Herbstesrot
hängt überm frischgetränkten Gras.
Die Sonne bleibt durch Dunst versperrt,
doch Astern sprühn ihr Feuerwerk,
und Rosen quellen ohne Maß –
O erdgeborne Sternenpracht,
die uns am hellen Tage lacht,
o buntes Bild auf grauem Glas!

II.

Der Himmel ist mit Blau behaucht,
die Gärten neu in Gold getaucht,
mit Gelb getränkt schon manches Laub;
und selbst das Blatt, das sterbend schwebt,
ist kupferrot wie frischerregt.
Noch einmal kost das Licht die Haut…
Das Windrad saust, die Wolke fliegt,
ein weißer Blütenball zerstiebt –
Zuletzt wird jedes Ding zu Staub.

Christina Egan © 2015

This poem has meanwhile been published in the Rhönkalender 2017.

The Lavender’s Splendours / dachterrasse

The Lavender’s Splendours

On brittle grey walls,
find brittle grey sheaves
on wire-thin stalks
with tired long leaves…

Lavender with fresh and wilted blossom, next to pale-golden grass.

The lavender’s splendours
of indigo spikes
are ashes and embers:
dull grey with mauve lights.

Yet grasp its pale grains
and grind them to flakes –
and dazzling white flames
will rise when it wakes!

Christina Egan © 2016


dachterrasse

dachterrasse
traumgehege

der straßenkreuzung den hinterhöfen
den baustellen enthobenShrub with bright-red berries on a roof-terrace, with deep-red ivy below.

lavendel und rosen
wuchern und welken

der feuerdorn verheißt
lautlose feuerwerke

Christina Egan © 2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2016