Monday, April 25, 2011

Poetry For A Rainy Day

Questions from a Worker Who Reads
Bertolt Bretcht, Trans. M.Hamburger (Hat tip Unfogged)

Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will find the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rocks?
And Babylon, many times demolished.
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the wall of China was finished,
did the masons go? Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
Did Caesar triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song,
Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis,
The night the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone?
Caeser beat the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him?
Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Years War. Who
Else won it?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feasts for the victors?
Every ten years a great man.
Who paid the bills?

So many reports.
So many questions.

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