Bertolt Brecht(10 February 1898 - 14 August 1956 / Augsburg)
From A German War Primer
- by Bertolt Brecht29
AMONGST THE HIGHLY PLACED It is considered low to talk about food. The fact is: they have Already eaten.
The lowly must leave this earth Without having tasted Any good meat.
For wondering where they come from and Where they are going The fine evenings find them Too exhausted.
They have not yet seen The mountains and the great sea When their time is already up.
If the lowly do not Think about what's low They will never rise.
THE BREAD OF THE HUNGRY HAS ALL BEEN EATEN Meat has become unknown. Useless The pouring out of the people's sweat. The laurel groves have been Lopped down. From the chimneys of the arms factories Rises smoke.
THE HOUSE-PAINTER SPEAKS OF GREAT TIMES TO COME The forests still grow. The fields still bear The cities still stand. The people still breathe.
ON THE CALENDAR THE DAY IS NOT YET SHOWN Every month, every day Lies open still. One of those days Is going to be marked with a cross.
THE WORKERS CRY OUT FOR BREAD The merchants cry out for markets. The unemployed were hungry. The employed Are hungry now. The hands that lay folded are busy again. They are making shells.
THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE Teach contentment. Those for whom the contribution is destined Demand sacrifice. Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry Of wonderful times to come. Those who lead the country into the abyss Call ruling too difficult For ordinary men.
WHEN THE LEADERS SPEAK OF PEACE The common folk know That war is coming. When the leaders curse war The mobilization order is already written out.
THOSE AT THE TOP SAY: PEACE AND WAR Are of different substance. But their peace and their war Are like wind and storm.
War grows from their peace Like son from his mother He bears Her frightful features.
Their war kills Whatever their peace Has left over.
ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED: They want war. The man who wrote it Has already fallen.
THOSE AT THE TOP SAY: This way to glory. Those down below say: This way to the grave.
THE WAR WHICH IS COMING Is not the first one. There were Other wars before it. When the last one came to an end There were conquerors and conquered. Among the conquered the common people Starved. Among the conquerors The common people starved too.
THOSE AT THE TOP SAY COMRADESHIP Reigns in the army. The truth of this is seen In the cookhouse. In their hearts should be The selfsame courage. But On their plates Are two kinds of rations.
WHEN IT COMES TO MARCHING MANY DO NOT KNOW That their enemy is marching at their head. The voice which gives them their orders Is their enemy's voice and The man who speaks of the enemy Is the enemy himself.
IT IS NIGHT The married couples Lie in their beds. The young women Will bear orphans.
GENERAL, YOUR TANK IS A POWERFUL VEHICLE It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men. But it has one defect: It needs a driver.
General, your bomber is powerful. It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant. But it has one defect: It needs a mechanic.
General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think.
Questions From a Worker Who Reads
- by Bertolt Brecht24
Who built Thebes of the seven gates? In the books you will find the names of kings. Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock? And Babylon, many times demolished Who raised it up so many times? In what houses of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live? Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished Did the masons go? Great Rome Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis The night the ocean engulfed it The drowning still bawled for their slaves.
The young Alexander conquered India. Was he alone? Caesar beat the Gauls. Did he not have even a cook with him?
Philip of Spain wept when his armada Went down. Was he the only one to weep? Frederick the Second won the Seven Year's War. Who Else won it?
Every page a victory. Who cooked the feast for the victors? Every ten years a great man? Who paid the bill?
So many reports. So many questions.
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