Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Old God of War



I saw the old god of war stand in a bog between chasm and rockface.

He smelled of free beer and carbolic and showed his testicles to adolescents, for he had been rejuvenated by several professors. In a hoarse wolfish voice he declared his love for everything young. Nearby stood a pregnant woman, trembling.

And without shame he talked on and presented himself as a great one for order. And he described how everywhere he put barns in order, by emptying them.

And as one throws crumbs to sparrows, he fed poor people with crusts of bread which he had taken away from poor people.

His voice was now loud, now soft, but always hoarse.

In a loud voice he spoke of great times to come, and in a soft voice he taught women how to cook crows and seagulls. Meanwhile his back was unquiet, and he kept looking round, as though afraid of being stabbed.

And every five minutes he assured his public that he would take up very little of their time.


(From Bertold Brecht: I found this version of this poem from this page at Tom Clark's blog.  A commenter on that blog post wrote this:



Brecht, of course, had certain petty dictators in mind here, but the parabolic reach of the poem is considerable.


When he fled across the top of Europe from Finland to Leningrad to Moscow to Vladivostok and thence by boat across the Sea of Japan and the China Sea, he found himself in water roiled by the same god of war in different guise.
The Typhoon

On our flight from the house-painter to the States

We suddenly noticed that our little ship was not moving.

One whole night and one whole day

It lay against Luzon in the China Sea.

Some said it was because of a typhoon raging to the north

Others feared it was German raiders.

All

Preferred the typhoon to the Germans.



For more on Brecht, here's an interesting article. 



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