Friday, March 06, 2009

Belgian Beers

In a post about the alcohol problem in Scotland (which, as a nurse, he sees vividly from the inside), Swiss writes that "retailers can afford to sell alcohol for less than the price of water."

I spent the summer of 1991 in Leuven, Belgium, at a three-week conference on Translation Studies (that still runs every summer, see here). Every day at lunch, I would have a sandwich, and it struck me that it was cheaper to buy beer (even the delicious Trappist beers, like Leffe) than to drink water or juice—and the beers were twice the size of the non-alcoholic beverages! So, as I was on a budget, I had a beer with my lunch every day, and then a coffee. The afternoon sessions went from two to four, and I was often quite groggy, despite the coffee ...

My presentation on Walter Benjamin was terrible, but later I cracked the tough nut of his essay "The Task of the Translator" and wrote a pretty good study of it. I know I wrote more than one poem while I was there, but this is the only I'm sure I wrote there (AJS at 26):


André Dumont stands in the square
with a bird on his head. His white beard
and collar, distinguished marks
of worldly success, of achievement—
about them no one seems to care.

Except for the birds.
He is another tree, another lamppost
or flagpole on which they sit
and shit. When one flies away,
another comes to sit and shit
on André Dumont, who keeps standing,
with his beard, collar, and other marks
of success, in the middle of the square.

No comments: