“To Those Born Later,” Bertolt Brecht


Truly, I live in dark times!
The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead
suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs
has simply not yet had
The terrible news.

What kind of times are they, when
a talk about trees is almost a crime
because it implies silence about so many horrors?
That man there calmly crossing the street
is already perhaps beyond the reach of his friends
who are in need?

It is true I still earn my keep
but, believe me, that is only an accident. Nothing
I do gives me the right to eat my fill.
by chance I’ve been spared. (If my luck breaks, I am lost).

They say to me: Eat and drink! Be glad you have it!
but how can I eat and drink if I snatch what I eat
from the starving, and
my glass of water belongs to one dying of thirst?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would also like to be wise.
in the old books it says what wisdom is:
To shun the strife of the world and to live out
your brief time without fear
also to get along without violence
to return good for evil
not to fulfill your desires but to forget them
is accounted wise.
All this I cannot do:
truly, I live in dark times.


To the cities I came in a time of disorder
that was ruled by hunger.
I sheltered with the people in a time of uproar
and then I joined in their rebellion.
That’s how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.

I ate my dinners between the battles,
I lay down to sleep among the murderers,
I didn’t care for much for love
and for nature’s beauties I had little patience.
That’s how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.

The city streets all led to foul swamps in my time,
my speech betrayed me to the butchers.
I could do only little
but without me those that ruled could not sleep so easily:
That’s what I hoped.
That’s how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.

Our forces were slight and small,
Our goal lay in the far distance
clearly in our sights,
If for me myself beyond my reaching.
that’s how I passed my time that was given to me on this Earth.


You who will come to the surface
from the flood that’s overwhelmed us and drowned us all
must think, when you speak of our weakness in times of darkness
that you’ve not had to face:

Days when we were used to changing countries
more often than shoes,
through the war of the classes despairing
that there was only injustice and no outrage.

Even so we realised
hatred of oppression still distorts the features,
anger at injustice still makes voices raised and ugly.
Oh we, who wished to lay for the foundations for peace and friendliness,
could never be friendly ourselves.

And in the future when no longer
do human beings still treat themselves as animals,
look back on us with indulgence.



Categorized as Art


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