The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Wednesday


It Must Have Been the Spirits
By C. P. Cavafy
Translated by Daniel Mendelsohn


It must have been the spirits that I drank last night,
it must have been that I was drowsing, I'd been tired all day long.

The black wooden column vanished before me,
with the ancient head; and the dining-room door,
and the armchair, the red one; and the little settee.
In their place came a street in Marseilles.
And freed now, brazenly, my soul
appeared there once again and moved about,
along with the form of a sensitive, pleasure-bent youth—
the dissolute youth: that, too, must be said.

It must have been the spirits that I drank last night,
it must have been that I was drowsing, I'd been tired all day long.

My soul was released; the poor thing, it's
always constrained by the weight of the years.

My soul was released and it showed me
a sympathique street in Marseilles,
with the form of the happy, dissolute youth
who never felt ashamed, not he, certainly.

--------

From this week's New Yorker, an unfinished poem by one of my favorite poets.

I'm very happy that Barack Obama is now the President of the United States, but I'm not sorry that I didn't try to go to the inauguration -- I hate crowds, and I suspect I saw and heard things more clearly from my in-laws' living room -- not to mention felt more delight -- than I would have standing cold, exhausted and claustrophobic downtown. As much as I appreciated Obama's speech and seeing various dignitaries and elected officials (I hope Teddy Kennedy's all right), it was a particular thrill for me to hear Elizabeth Alexander read her poetry; I was in college at Penn when she was in grad school and we took several classes together, and were reacquainted when I was in grad school at the University of Chicago when she arrived to teach.

We were in Hanover for most of the day, going out after the swearing-in to the Utz Factory for their automated tour (conducted by push-button "tour guides" while walking past windows that look into the potato chip factory and packaging plant). Then we went to the Utz outlet store where we bought far more snack food than we really should be eating! Driving home in the late afternoon, we got to see the sun reflecting off the snow that fell all over the region on Monday. We had a small dinner to follow up our fairly large brunch while watching the inauguration; both kids have exams on Wednesday and Daniel wasn't feeling well, so even though there were free tacos at California Tortilla, we opted to eat at home.


I learned lots of amazing things on the Utz Factory Tour -- like that potato chips were invented in 1853 by a disgruntled Native American chef who was annoyed when a dinner guest sent back his French fries for being cut too thick, and took revenge by producing ultra-thin, crisp "fries" that were an instant hit.


Two of Bill and Salie Utz's oldest pieces of equipment, a potato slicer and peeler, in the visitor's entrance hallway of the Utz factory.


The tour starts with a History Channel film about the creation of the potato chip and the Utz family's development of the business, then heads to a viewing area of the factory itself, where visitors see every step from the potatoes being peeled and sliced to the chips being fried to this room where workers removing blemished chips waved to us.


Utz has several warehouses in Hanover -- this one for potato chips, another for pretzels, and still more for tortilla chips, popcorn, cheese curls, etc.


The end result are dozens of products...


...delivered locally in vans like this one, and out of state in much larger trucks.


The Utz factory outlet store (which is also in the top photo on this page) offers samples of many varieties of potato chip and pretzel, and sells dozens of packages and tins, including NFL team helmets and dozens of college sports teams.


Yet they also remain proud of "Hanover Home Brand" potato chips.
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In the evening we decided to watch the We Are One concert since we hadn't on Sunday. That was the perfect way to spend the time between the parade and the coverage of the inaugural balls -- we knew pretty much all the songs, performers, and guests, and it had that same sense of euphoria. I was astonished to learn that the stock market had dropped; I thought the sense of progress and hope in DC might have spread everywhere at least for the day.
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