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)

Source: https://qmul.academia.edu/AlasdairKing
Reprinted in the TLS 2013-07-03