The Palms and the Poet

The Palms and the Poet

Short sturdy palm-trees, their leaves being blown to one side by a strong wind; blue sky, bright lawn.The palm-trees where the poet lingers
stretch out a thousand feathery fingers
and offer sweetest dates.
The shoulder-high ones’ shining tresses
give to the passing knight caresses,
the tall ones, sprinkled shades.

They weave their silken wings together
to shield him from the weighing weather
and point him to the wells.
He seems to smile, but does not notice
the leaves nor fruits, for in his throat is
a spring of syllables.

Christina Egan © 2005

Pond with weeping willow reflected and white goose crossing.

 

Huge Harp

The weeping willow
is smiling in the sunshine,
dancing in the wind.
You sit by the pond beneath,
as if inside a huge harp.

Christina Egan © 2017

The tanka’s image of the poet beside a large harp or lyre, as if he were sitting inside, was inspired by stained-glass windows or illuminated manuscripts showing King David performing the psalms he is said to have composed.

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014 / © 2018.

Gifts

Gifts

My love, I’d so much love to give you a gift:
a kite with the face of a friendly dragon,
a goblet carved from a coconut shell,
a rocking-chair on a scarlet rug,
a house by a little lake,
a little lake,
a life –

But I have none of these things to give away:
only smiles slotted through half-open doors,
kisses smuggled on underground trains,
words typed on a cluttered screen…
only these worthless,
priceless
words.

Christina Egan © 2008


You can find a poem shaped like a spinning top at Toys / Baskets / Bowls,
one shaped (and tinted) like a bush at By the Brittle Brown Fence,
and one shaped (and tinted) like a balloon at Red Balloon!

traurige ernte / Funkenschlag

traurige ernte

purpurn häufen sich die trauben
äpfel rollen dick und gelb
unter meinen müden augen
neben meinem armen feld

unerwidert bleibt mein lächeln
meine tränen ungezählt
unbedeutend rinnt mein leben
und ich sterbe unvermählt

Christina Egan © 2011


Funkenschlag

Ich habe spät beim Wein gesessen
und in die Nacht hinausgedacht:
Ich werde ohne Erben sterben;
was hat mein Leben ausgemacht?

Ich habe nicht umsonst gelitten,
ich habe nicht umsonst gelacht:
Der Funkenschlag geschliff’ner Worte
hat oft schon Flammensprung entfacht.

Christina Egan © 2009


The first person is dejected in the belief that his or her life has not been fruitful; they feel lonely and poor, not necessarily in material terms. The second person is convinced that he or she has not  lived and suffered in vain: they made a difference through their words.

That successful person could be a politician or a novelist, for instance; but it does not matter, because everyone has made a difference to the world and has been irreplaceable. Our heirs are those who inherit our lives, whether in  money, property, things or in achievements, inventions, ideas.

Der Knauf / Schnellgeschrieben

Der Knauf

Schon viele haben Blumen dir gepflückt,
von Löwenzahn bis hin zu Feuerlilien,

vielleicht auch mancher einen Edelstein –
doch niemand pflückte je dir einen Stern.

Und wenn ich tausend Jahre leben muß,
und wenn ich tausend Jahre lieben muß:

Ich hole dir den kupferfarbnen Knauf
vom ungeheuren Sternengittertor

zur dämmerdunkelblauen Seligkeit
und leg ihn sanft in deine hohle Hand.

Christina Egan © 2012


Schnellgeschrieben

Sterne ans Firmament zu setzen ist mir ein Leichtes:
Funkelnde Verse schleif flink ich mit sicherer Hand.
Sterne hingegen vom Himmel zu greifen geschieht nur im Traume:
Sprühende Küsse erhascht selten der federnde Fuß.

Christina Egan © 2016


In The Knob, the person wants to pick for her beloved one something better than a flame-coloured flower, better than a sparkling gem: a copper-coloured star!

In the distichon Written Quickly, the poet states that she can easily put stars up, that is, her verse, but rarely picks stars, that is, kisses, other than in dreams…

These poems would not work in a translation software because the first one invents words and the second one jumbles up the word order, like the ancients did.

Three Stars / Drei Sterne

Three Stars

Three stars in the sky…
Three lines only to tell you
all my hopes for us.

*

Sneeze

Your sweet face – a sneeze –
as sudden and explosive
as your sweet haiku.

Christina Egan © 2013

Stamp with bright artistic impression of spaceship flying between planets and stars.

Drei Sterne

Drei Sterne am Himmel…
Drei Zeilen für dich, für
all meine Hoffnung.

*

Nieser

Dein liebes Gesicht
– ein Nieser – plötzlich, heftig
,
wie deine Haikus!

Christina Egan © 2016


A haiku is a Japanese poetic form; each poem has only three lines and seventeen syllables, which amounts sometimes to only a dozen words, even with a title. Yet you can say a lot in three lines… The word game is more difficult in German than in English, since the words are longer; translation can be a challenge.

A traditional haiku starts with an image from nature indicating the season; you will see on my haiku pages that I largely follow this rule. These here are different: one is simply romantic and one humorous, and both are about reading and hearing haiku!


 

Illustration: Stamp of 1963. (Scanned by Darjac) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

La Mer, enfin

La Mer, enfin
(Cimetière marin, Sète)

Ô vagues de vers sincères et idolâtres…
Ce vaste pan de verre d’un vert bleuâtre
Entre cieux et ombres suspendu,
Et cet essaim neigeux de tombes en marbre
Parmi les flammes géantes noires des arbres :
La Mer, enfin. J’ai vu et j’ai vécu.

Ces fleurs en bas, comme lèvres entrouvertes,
Impérissables certes, mais inertes,
Moulues de cet argile du Midi ;
Ces fleurs en haut, rosées et scintillantes,
Ces tressaillantes et minces, mais vivantes !
Le Cimetière. J’ai vu et j’ai écrit.

Christina Egan © 2016

Light-blue sky and light-green ocean in the background, white tombs in the foregrund; in the front, a flat marble slabs decorated with two large pink flowers, one in clay and one in plastic.

 

Paul Valéry’s tomb on the Cimetière marin, which has become famous through his poem. It is shown and played all day in the neighbouring art museum erected as a homage to him.

These lines are closely related to Valéry’s. The durable but lifeless flowers are of clay and plastic; the perishable but living ones blossom on the bushes around. My picture and poem were created in early January!

An automatic translation into English may convey the meaning of  my French homage to Valéry quite well — but not the music of the words!

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

Toys / Baskets / Bowls

Toys

I
scanned
the
scattered shapes
heaped around me and picked out
the flowers and fresh fruits and fleeting clouds filled
with sun and added some slanted squares of marble and slate and
trunks of birch-trees and fashioned my finds into this
spinning-top. Just don’t ask what
it means. It’s a toy
I made for
you !

***

Baskets

The most delicately plaited words
still awkward, thick like things.
Bent over pads of paper,
the poet labours, late,
dexterous, impotent
to convey music,
silence…
peace.

Christina Egan © 2012


Roman_bowl_01_MusLon

Bowls

Like bowls of ordinary wood,
robust, adept, like workers’ tools,
these hands seem empty. Yet they are
filled to the brim, invisibly:
with jewel-like ideas the one,
the other with tranquillity.

Christina Egan © 2012

Roman bowl. Photograph from the
website of the
Museum of London.