Sunday Poem


Paying for identity. Paying for tradition.
The French State pays when it subsidises
an agricultural activity whose workforce
in days no longer measured from sunrise
to sunset over farmland first ploughed
at least some seven millennia in the past
quickly declines alongside the percentage
of its real contribution to GDP. It pays
for time. An ancestral time that only exists
financed by millions and more millions.
It doesn’t pay for alpine goats’ milk. Doesn’t
pay for the dusting of charcoal that covers
the rind. It doesn’t pay for the room, damp
and ventilated, where it’s left to mature.
It pays to keep up an idea, the landscape
suited to that idea. Pays for national pride
or pays for a phrase from Brillat-Savarin.
(It’s best accompanied with a nice Shiraz.)

by Sergio Raimondi
from Für ein kommentiertes Wörterbuch /
Para un diccionario crítico de la lengua

publisher: Berenberg, Berlín, 2012
translation: Ben Bollig
first published on Poetry International, 2016