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TSE  February 2003

TSE February 2003

Subject:

Re: Rare Intelligent Voices on Poets Against the War

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Mon, 24 Feb 2003 20:22:47 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (220 lines)

    To the Coming Generations
            (Bertolt Brecht)

               I

     Truly, I live in dark times!
     The innocuous word is fatuous.  A smooth brow
     Denotes insensitivity.  If someone is laughing
     It only means, that he hasn't yet
     Heard the dreadful news.

     What sort of times are these, when
     To talk about trees is almost a crime,
     Because it is simultaneously silence about so many
        atrocities!
     Someone placidly crossing the street
     Is certainly not available for his friend
     Who is in need?

     It is true: I do earn my living.
     But believe me: that is the merest accident.
        Nothing
     That I do gives me the right, to be stuffing myself
        full.
     I have been spared by accident.  (If my luck runs
        out, I'm finished.)
     They say to me: eat and drink!  Be happy that you
        have!
     But how can I eat and drink, when
     Every bite that I eat is ripped from the mouth of a
        starving man, and
     My glass of water is being denied to one dying of
        thirst?
     And yet I eat, and I drink.

     I would love to be wise as well.
     You can find what is wise in the old books:
     To hold yourself aloof from the strife of the
        world, and to spend
     Your brief time without fear;
     Also, to get by without violence,
     To repay evil with good,
     To relinquish desires, rather than fulfilling them,
     These are all considered wise.
     Of all this I am incapable:
     Truly, I live in dark times!

                    II

     I came to the cities in the Age of Disorder
     When hunger was rampant.
     I came among mankind in the Age of Turmoil
     And I railed against it.
     That is how my days were spent
     That were given to me on earth.

     I ate my food between battles
     I lied down to sleep among the murderers
     I attended diffidently to love
     And looked upon nature with impatience.
     That is how my days were spent
     That were given to me on earth.

     In my day, the streets led to the swamp.
     My language betrayed me to the butcher.
     There was little I could do.  But the powerful
     Sat more comfortably without me, so I hoped.
     That is how my days were spent
     That were given to me on earth.

     The forces were weak.  The goal
     Was distant, remote.
     It was plainly visible, even if I
     Could never reach it.
     That is how my days were spent
     That were given to me on earth.

                    III

     You, who will spring up from the flood
     In which we have drowned
       Think,
     When you speak of our shortcomings,
     Also of the dark times
     That you have been spared.

     We,  who had to change countries more often
     Than our shoes,  walked in despair amid the class
        struggle,
     When we saw only injustice, but no indignation.

     And yet we do know:
     Even hatred of baseness
     Contorts the features.
     Even wrath against injustice
     Makes the voice hoarse.  Ah, we
     Who wanted to prepare the ground for friendship
     Were ourselves unable to be friendly.

     But you, if the world has come so far
     That each person is now a helper to his fellows
     Think of us
     With forbearance.


    An die Nachgeborenen
(Bertolt Brecht)

I

 Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!
 Das arglose Wort ist töricht.  Eine glatte Stirn
 Deutet auf Unempfindlichkeit hin.  Der
 Lachende
 Hat die furchtbare Nachricht
 Nur noch nicht empfangen.
 Was sind das für Zeiten, wo
 Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein
    Verbrechen ist
 Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten
  einschließt!
 Der dort ruhig über die Straße geht
 Ist wohl nicht mehr erreichbar für seine
 Freunde
 Die in Not sind?

 Es ist wahr: ich verdiene noch meinen
 Unterhalt.
 Aber glaubt mir: das ist nur ein Zufall.
 Nichts
 Von dem, was ich tue, berechtigt mich dazu,
 mich sattzuessen.
 Zufällig bin ich verschont.  (Wenn mein
 Glück aussetzt, bin ich verloren.)

 Man sagt mir: Iß und trink du!  Sei froh, daß
 du hast!
 Aber wie kann ich essen und trinken, wenn
 Ich es dem Hungernden entreiße, was ich
 esse, und
 Mein Glas Wasser  einem Verdurstenden
 fehlt?
 Und doch esse und trinke ich.

 Ich wäre gerne auch weise.
 In den alten Büchern steht, was weise ist:
 Sich aus dem Streit der Welt halten und die
 kurze Zeit
 Ohne Furcht verbringen.
 Auch ohne Gewalt auskommen
 Böses mit Gutem vergelten
 Seine Wünsche nicht erfüllen, sondern
 vergessen
 Gilt für weise.
 Alles das kann ich nicht:
 Wahrlich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!

       II.

 In die Städte kam ich zur Zeit der Unordnung
 Als da Hunger herrschte.
 Unter die Menschen kam ich zur Zeit des
 Aufruhrs
 Und ich empörte mich mit ihnen.
 So verging meine Zeit
 Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

 Mein Essen aß ich zwischen den Schlachten
 Schlafen legte ich mich unter die Mörder
 Der Liebe pflegte ich achtlos
 Und die Natur sah ich ohne Geduld.
 So verging meine Zeit
 Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

 Die Straßen führten in den Sumpf zu meiner
 Zeit.
 Die Sprache verriet mich dem Schlächter.
 Ich vermochte nur wenig.  Aber die
 Herrschenden
 Saßen ohne mich sicherer, das hoffte ich.
 So verging meine Zeit
 Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

 Die Kräfte waren gering.  Das Ziel
 Lag in großer Ferne.
 Es war deutlich sichtbar, wenn auch für
 mich
 Kaum zu erreichen.
 So verging meine Zeit
 Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

                III

 Ihr, die ihr auftauchen werdet aus der Flut
 In der wir untergegangen sind
 Gedenkt
 Wenn ihr von unsern Schwächen sprecht
 Auch der finsteren Zeit
 Der ihr entronnen seid.

 Gingen wir doch, öfter als die Schuhe die
 Länder wechselnd
 Durch die Kriege der Klassen, verzweifelt
 Wenn da nur Unrecht war und keine
 Empörung.

 Dabei wissen wir doch:
 Auch der Haß gegen die Niedrigkeit
 Verzerrt die Züge.
 Auch der Zorn über das Unrecht
 Macht die Stimme heiser.  Ach, wir
 Die wir den Boden bereiten wollten für
 Freundlichkeit
 Konnten selber nicht freundlich sein.

 Ihr aber, wenn es soweit sein wird
 Daß der Mensch dem Menschen ein Helfer
 ist
 Gedenkt unsrer
 Mit Nachsicht.

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