A favourite poem I clipped from the TLS and carried around with me from apartment to apartment for years before losing it, only to find it again on Academia.edu … So good.
Short History of the Bourgeoisie
This was the moment when, for five minutes,
without noticing it,
we were immeasurably rich, generous
and electric, cooled in July,
or if it were November,
wood flown in from Finland glowed
in our Renaissance fireplaces. Funny,
everything was there, was flying in,
in a way, by itself. How elegant
we were, no one could bear us.
We threw our money about on solo-concerts,
chips, orchids in cellophane. Clouds
wrote our names. Exquisite.
Scheduled flights in all directions. Even our sighs
were on credit. Like fishwives
we scolded each other. Everyone
had his misfortune under his seat,
close at hand. That was a shame, really.
It was so practical. Water
flowed from the taps like nothing on earth.
Do you remember? Overcome
by our tiny emotions,
we ate little. If we had only known
that it would all be over
in five minutes, the Beef Wellington
would have tasted quite, quite different.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Translated by Alasdair King (1990)
Reprinted in the TLS 2013-07-03