Early Brecht

1920 to 1926. Translated by me.1 (Maybe you should read it with a German accent in mind.)

God's Evening Song

When the blue wind of evening wakes up God Father, he sees the sky above him turn pale and enjoys it. At once his ears are refreshed by the great cosmic chorale, in which he indulges himself:

The scream of flooded forests, drowning.
The moan of old brown wooden houses, for which the burden of the furniture and people is too heavy.
The dry cough of exhausted fields, robbed of their force.
The gargantuan bowel sounds, with which the last mammoth completed its hard and blissful life on earth.
The fearful prayers of great men's mothers.
The glacier roar of the white Himalayas, amusing themselfs in their icy solitude
And Bert Brecht's torment, who is having a bad time.
And at the same time: the crazy songs of water, ascending in the forests.
Sleeping peoples' gentle breathing, who are lulled by old floorboads.
The ecstatic murmur of corn fields, long prayer wheels.
Great men's great words
And Bert Brecht's wonderfull chants, who is having a bad time.

When I Saw That the World Had Died Off

When I saw that the world had died off
The plants, humankind and the remaining animals of the surface and of the lower sea bottom
Grew a mountain
Bigger than the other mountains and than the mountain Himalaya
And it used the whole world, so that it grew
And the wisdom gave him a big hump and a bigger one made the stupidity
The light reinforced it, but the darkness made it even bigger
Thus the world turned into only one mountain, so that about it could be told: this was the biggest!

The Later-Born

I admit it: I
Have no hope.
The blind talk about a way out. I

If the mistakes are used up
Sits as last company
The nothing facing us.

A Pessimistic Human

A pessimistic human
Is indulgent.
He knows to savour the fine courtoisie
If a man does not club to death a woman
And a woman's sacrifice, who cooks coffee for her lover
With white legs under the shirt
Touches him.
A man's pang of conscience, who sold out his friend
Shakes him who knows the coldness of the world
And how wise it is
To talk loud and self-confident
In the night

You Shouldn't Be Too Critical

You shouldn't be too critical.
Between yes and no
The difference is not so large.
To write on white paper
Is a good thing, also
Sleeping and eating in the evenings.
The fresh water on the skin, the wind
The pleasant clothes
The abc
The defecation!
In the hanged man's house to talk about the rope
Is not seemly.
And to find a sharp difference
in the dirt
amongst clay and emery
That is not befitting.
Who has a vision
Of the starry sky
Could actually keep his trap shut.

The Gordian Knot


When the man from Macedemon
With the sword had chopped
the knot, they called him,
That night in Gordium, "slave
Of his glory".

For though their knot was
One of the rare wonders of the world
A man's piece of art, whose brain
(The most convoluted of the world!) could not
Have left a different testimonial than
Twenty cords, tangled to the behoof
Finally to be released by the lightest
Hand of the world! Lightest beside those
Who had it tied. Oh, the man
Whose hand it tied, was
Not without a plan to release it, yet
The time of his life lasted
Sadly only for the one, the tying.

One second was enough
To chop it.

About him who chopped it
Many said, this had been
yet his luckiest hit
The cheapest, least harmfull.

That unknown man needs not, and rightly so,
To answer with his name for
his creation, which was halfway
Like anything divine
But the git who ruined it
Had to proclaim, as if on higher orders
His name and reveal himself to the continent.


Said so those in Gordium, say I:
Not all what is hard is useful, and
More rarely suffices an answer
To dispose of a question once and for all
Than a deed.

  1. Translated from Berthold Brecht: Gesammelte Werke, ed. Suhrkamp-Verlag, Bd. 8, Frankfurt a. M. : Suhrkamp, 1967. The poems are: Psalmen: Gottes Abendlied (p. 75-76), Als ich sah, dass die Welt abgestorben war (p. 95), Der Nachgeborene (p. 99), Ein pessimistischer Mensch (p. 117), Man sollte nicht zu kritisch sein (p. 118), Der gordische Knoten (p. 141-142).