Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bertolt Brecht: poetry written in and for dark times

In dark times there is always the poetry of Bertolt Brecht 
On the Critical Attitude
The critical attitude
Strikes many people as unfruitful
That is because they find the state
Impervious to their criticism
But what in this case is an unfruitful attitude
Is merely a feeble attitude. Give criticism arms
And states can be demolished by it.

Canalising a river
Grafting a fruit tree
Educating a person
Transforming a state
These are instances of fruitful criticism
And at the same time instances of art.
The Active Disconnected
The active disconnected, your great teachers
Worked out the structure of a community
Where man is not wolf to man
And discovered man's delight in eating his fill and having a 
                      roof over his head
And his wish to manage his own affairs
They did not believe the preachers' babble
That our terrible hunger will be appeased once our bellies
                      have rotted
They chucked out the dishes full of bad food.
They recognised the man they were told was the enemy
As their hungry neighbour.
They were patient only in the struggle against the oppressors
Tolerant only of those who would not tolerate exploitation
Tired only of injustice.

He who kicked away the chair on which he sat uncomfortably
Who drove the ploughshare an inch deeper into the earth than
                    any before him
The discontented man, he shall be our teacher
In reconstructing the community.

Those however
Who gorged themselves full on a plate of promises
Shall get their bellies ripped out.
Hiding their crooked bones
In a waste of a spoonful of sand.

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