Poetic Words: Enzensberger

TLS tipped me off to a poem by Hans Magnus Enzenberg, a polymath author, who, among other works, wrote a charming book on math for kids called The Number Devil.

Here he is in a sharper key.

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 own 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)

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 10.15.58 AM


“Culture and possessions, there is the bourgeoisie for you.”
Thomas Mann
and in this case, a little too much red too!

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