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‘A WORKER READS HISTORY’ by Bertolt Brecht (1947):

 Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
 The books are filled with names of kings.
 Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
 And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
 Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
 That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
 In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
 Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
 Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
 Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
 Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
 The night the seas rushed in,
 The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

 Young Alexander conquered India.
 He alone?
 Caesar beat the Gauls.
 Was there not even a cook in his army?
 Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
 was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
 Frederick the Greek triumphed in the Seven Years War.
 Who triumphed with him?

 Each page a victory
 At whose expense the victory ball?
 Every ten years a great man,
 Who paid the piper?

 So many particulars.
 So many questions.
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2 Comments

  1. Nice poem…this ones good too…well at least i liked it! Its called Ozymandias and its by Shelley…

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works ye mighty and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    • Wow, nice!… There are parts of it that I’m not completely sure I got, but I do like it :)…. But wait, Shelley as in Mary Shelley? That’s cool; by sheer coincidence, I was just reading about her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, today! She’s mentioned quite a few times in Amartya Sen’s “The Idea of Justice”. Apparently, she was a prominent (radical) philosopher in her own right, an early proponent of basic, inalienable human rights, and one of the world’s first feminists…


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