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Best Famous Bertolt Brecht Poems

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by Bertolt Brecht |

Alabama Song

 Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
Show me the way to the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why
For if we don't find the next whisky bar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you
I tell you
I tell you we must die

Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say say good-bye
We've lost our good old mamma
And must have whisky
Oh, you know why.
Show me the way to the next pretty girl Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why Show me the way to the next pretty girl Oh don't ask why, oh, don't ask why For if we don't find the next pretty girl I tell you we must die I tell you we must die I tell you I tell you I tell you we must die Oh, moon of Alabama We now must say good-bye We've lost our good old mamma And must have a girl Oh, you know why.
Show me the way to the next little dollar Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why Show me the way to the next little dollar Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why For if we don't find the next little dollar I tell you we must die I tell you we must die I tell you I tell you I tell you we must die Oh, moon of Alabama We now must say good-bye We've lost our good old mamma And must have dollars Oh, you know why.


by Bertolt Brecht |

To Those Born After

 To the cities I came in a time of disorder
That was ruled by hunger.
I sheltered with the people in a time of uproar And then I joined in their rebellion.
That's how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.
I ate my dinners between the battles, I lay down to sleep among the murderers, I didn't care for much for love And for nature's beauties I had little patience.
That's how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.
The city streets all led to foul swamps in my time, My speech betrayed me to the butchers.
I could do only little But without me those that ruled could not sleep so easily: That's what I hoped.
That's how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.
Our forces were slight and small, Our goal lay in the far distance Clearly in our sights, If for me myself beyond my reaching.
That's how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.
II You who will come to the surface From the flood that's overwhelmed us and drowned us all Must think, when you speak of our weakness in times of darkness That you've not had to face: Days when we were used to changing countries More often than shoes, Through the war of the classes despairing That there was only injustice and no outrage.
Even so we realised Hatred of oppression still distorts the features, Anger at injustice still makes voices raised and ugly.
Oh we, who wished to lay for the foundations for peace and friendliness, Could never be friendly ourselves.
And in the future when no longer Do human beings still treat themselves as animals, Look back on us with indulgence.


by Bertolt Brecht |

O Germany Pale Mother!

 Let others speak of her shame,
I speak of my own.
O Germany, pale mother! How soiled you are As you sit among the peoples.
You flaunt yourself Among the besmirched.
The poorest of your sons Lies struck down.
When his hunger was great.
Your other sons Raised their hands against him.
This is notorious.
With their hands thus raised, Raised against their brother, They march insolently around you And laugh in your face.
This is well known.
In your house Lies are roared aloud.
But the truth Must be silent.
Is it so? Why do the oppressors praise you everywhere, The oppressed accuse you? The plundered Point to you with their fingers, but The plunderer praises the system That was invented in your house! Whereupon everyone sees you Hiding the hem of your mantle which is bloody With the blood Of your best sons.
Hearing the harangues which echo from your house, men laugh.
But whoever sees you reaches for a knife As at the approach of a robber.
O Germany, pale mother! How have your sons arrayed you That you sit among the peoples A thing of scorn and fear!


by Bertolt Brecht |

What Has Happened?

 The industrialist is having his aeroplane serviced.
The priest is wondering what he said in his sermon eight weeks ago about tithes.
The generals are putting on civvies and looking like bank clerks.
Public officials are getting friendly.
The policeman points out the way to the man in the cloth cap.
The landlord comes to see whether the water supply is working.
The journalists write the word People with capital letters.
The singers sing at the opera for nothing.
Ships' captains check the food in the crew's galley, Car owners get in beside their chauffeurs.
Doctors sue the insurance companies.
Scholars show their discoveries and hide their decorations.
Farmers deliver potatoes to the barracks.
The revolution has won its first battle: That's what has happened.


by Bertolt Brecht |

To Posterity

 Indeed I live in the dark ages!
A guileless word is an absurdity.
A smooth forehead betokens A hard heart.
He who laughs Has not yet heard The terrible tidings.
Ah, what an age it is When to speak of trees is almost a crime For it is a kind of silence about injustice! And he who walks calmly across the street, Is he not out of reach of his friends In trouble? It is true: I earn my living But, believe me, it is only an accident.
Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
By chance I was spared.
(If my luck leaves me I am lost.
) They tell me: eat and drink.
Be glad you have it! But how can I eat and drink When my food is snatched from the hungry And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty? And yet I eat and drink.
I would gladly be wise.
The old books tell us what wisdom is: Avoid the strife of the world Live out your little time Fearing no one Using no violence Returning good for evil -- Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness Passes for wisdom.
I can do none of this: Indeed I live in the dark ages! 2.
I came to the cities in a time of disorder When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away Which on earth was given me.
I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away Which on earth was given me.
In my time streets led to the quicksand.
Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do.
But without me The rulers would have been more secure.
This was my hope.
So the time passed away Which on earth was given me.
3.
You, who shall emerge from the flood In which we are sinking, Think -- When you speak of our weaknesses, Also of the dark time That brought them forth.
For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing When there was only injustice and no resistance.
For we knew only too well: Even the hatred of squalor Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice Makes the voice grow harsh.
Alas, we Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness Could not ourselves be kind.
But you, when at last it comes to pass That man can help his fellow man, Do no judge us Too harshly.
translated by H.
R.
Hays


by Bertolt Brecht |

How Fortunate The Man With None

 You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait But soon observed what followed on.
It's wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.
You saw courageous Caesar next You know what he became.
They deified him in his life Then had him murdered just the same.
And as they raised the fatal knife How loud he cried: you too my son! The world however did not wait But soon observed what followed on.
It's courage that had brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.
You heard of honest Socrates The man who never lied: They weren't so grateful as you'd think Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried And handed him the poisoned drink.
How honest was the people's noble son.
The world however did not wait But soon observed what followed on.
It's honesty that brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.
Here you can see respectable folk Keeping to God's own laws.
So far he hasn't taken heed.
You who sit safe and warm indoors Help to relieve our bitter need.
How virtuously we had begun.
The world however did not wait But soon observed what followed on.
It's fear of god that brought us to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.


by Bertolt Brecht |

My young son asks me...

 My young son asks me: Must I learn mathematics?
What is the use, I feel like saying.
That two pieces Of bread are more than one's about all you'll end up with.
My young son asks me: Must I learn French? What is the use, I feel like saying.
This State's collapsing.
And if you just rub your belly with your hand and Groan, you'll be understood with little trouble.
My young son asks me: Must I learn history? What is the use, I feel like saying.
Learn to stick Your head in the earth, and maybe you'll still survive.
Yes, learn mathematics, I tell him.
Learn your French, learn your history!


by Bertolt Brecht |

The Mask Of Evil

 On my wall hangs a Japanese carving,
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer.
Sympathetically I observe The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating What a strain it is to be evil.


by Bertolt Brecht |

Parting

 How I have felt that thing that's called 'to part',
and feel it still: a dark, invincible,
cruel something by which what was joined so well
is once more shown, held out, and torn apart.
In what defenceless gaze at that I've stood, which, as it, calling to me, let me go, stayed there, as though it were all womanhood, yet small and white and nothing more than, oh, waving, now already unrelated to me, a sight, continuing wave,--scarce now explainable: perhaps a plum-tree bough some perchinig cuckoo's hastily vacated.


by Bertolt Brecht |

Parting

 AS from our dream we died away
Far off I felt the outer things;
Your wind-blown tresses round me play,
Your bosom’s gentle murmurings.
And far away our faces met As on the verge of the vast spheres; And in the night our cheeks were wet, I could not say with dew or tears.
As one within the Mother’s heart In that hushed dream upon the height We lived, and then we rose to part, Because her ways are infinite.