Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bertolt Brecht and indoor cricket

I spent a couple of hours last night watching my 13 year old son play indoor cricket. It's a weekly event usually between 5- 7pm each Friday night and I always take a book to read as watching indoor cricket gets a bit tiresome. Last night I read Bertolt Brecht's Poems 1913-1956.
There is no better political poet that Brecht. No one writes better about the hypocrisy of political and corporate leaders. And here in Australian we have seen plenty of political hypocrisy this week in Canberra. So here is some Brecht

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 mobilisation order is already written out.

Ministers are always telling the people
How difficult it is to govern. Without the ministers corn would grow in the ground, not upward
Not a lump of coal would leave the mine if
The Chancellor were'nt so clever

Or could it be that
Governing is so difficult only
Because swindling and exploitation take some learning.

To Those Born After by Bertolt Brecht
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.


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.

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