Thursday, 29 October 2015

Questions by a workman who reads - Bertold Brecht

Who built seven-gated Thebes?
In the books stand the names of kings.
Did the kings drag the boulders there?
And Babylon, destroyed many times—
Who rebuilt it all those times? Where, in what houses
in shining-gold Lima did its builders live?
On the evening the Great Wall of China was finished
where did the wall-builders go? Great Rome
is full of arches of triumph. Who made them? The caesars,
whom did they conquer? Did Byzantium of the songs
have only palaces to live in? Even in fabled Atlantis
on the night the sea swallowed it
the drowning screamed for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
By himself?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
He did not at least have a cook?
Philip of Spain wept as his fleet
was destroyed. Did no one else weep?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Years' War. Who
won besides him?
Every page a victory.
Who cooked the victory feast?
Every ten years a great man.
Who paid the bills?
So many stories.
So many questions.

Bertold Brecht (1898 - 1956) Germany
Translated by Sedulia Scott

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