War Poems - Poems For War - From A German War Primer

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From A German War Primer - Poem by Bertolt Brecht

AMONGST THE HIGHLY PLACED
It is considered low to talk about food.
The fact is: they have
Already eaten.

The lowly must leave this earth
Without having tasted
Any good meat.

For wondering where they come from and
Where they are going
The fine evenings find them
Too exhausted.

They have not yet seen
The mountains and the great sea
When their time is already up.

If the lowly do not
Think about what's low
They will never rise.

THE BREAD OF THE HUNGRY HAS
ALL BEEN EATEN
Meat has become unknown. Useless
The pouring out of the people's sweat.
The laurel groves have been
Lopped down.
From the chimneys of the arms factories
Rises smoke.

THE HOUSE-PAINTER SPEAKS OF
GREAT TIMES TO COME
The forests still grow.
The fields still bear
The cities still stand.
The people still breathe.

ON THE CALENDAR THE DAY IS NOT
YET SHOWN
Every month, every day
Lies open still. One of those days
Is going to be marked with a cross.

THE WORKERS CRY OUT FOR BREAD
The merchants cry out for markets.
The unemployed were hungry. The employed
Are hungry now.
The hands that lay folded are busy again.
They are making shells.

THOSE WHO TAKE THE MEAT FROM THE TABLE
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the contribution is destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill speak to the hungry
Of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.

WHEN THE LEADERS SPEAK OF PEACE
The common folk know
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY: PEACE
AND WAR
Are of different substance.
But their peace and their war
Are like wind and storm.

War grows from their peace
Like son from his mother
He bears
Her frightful features.

Their war kills
Whatever their peace
Has left over.

ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED:
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY:
This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY COMRADESHIP
Reigns in the army.
The truth of this is seen
In the cookhouse.
In their hearts should be
The selfsame courage. But
On their plates
Are two kinds of rations.

WHEN IT COMES TO MARCHING MANY DO NOT
KNOW
That their enemy is marching at their head.
The voice which gives them their orders
Is their enemy's voice and
The man who speaks of the enemy
Is the enemy himself.

IT IS NIGHT
The married couples
Lie in their beds. The young women
Will bear orphans.

GENERAL, YOUR TANK IS A POWERFUL VEHICLE
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.


Comments about From A German War Primer by Bertolt Brecht

  • Gold Star - 7,064 Points Dutendra Chamling (11/5/2015 2:53:00 AM)

    ...General, man is very useful.
    He can fly and he can kill.
    But he has one defect:
    He can think...

    Powerful poem. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 149,542 Points Rajnish Manga (1/22/2015 9:47:00 PM)

    Apart from the exquisite poetic beauty that it has, the poem delivers a blow to the war machines active in any part of the world. Yes, the man can think. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 102,053 Points Kim Barney (1/22/2015 7:27:00 PM)

    I would like to know when the poem was written, before of after Hitler invaded Poland. My guess would be just before. It would be interesting to find out. (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »

Poems About War

  1. 1. A War Song To Englishmen , William Blake
  2. 2. Love And War , Ovid
  3. 3. The Next War , Wilfred Owen
  4. 4. A Prayer In Time Of War , Alfred Noyes
  5. 5. Sekhmet, The Lion-Headed Goddess Of War , Margaret Atwood
  6. 6. War Is Never Over , Cecil L. Harrison
  7. 7. From A German War Primer , Bertolt Brecht
  8. 8. In California During The Gulf War , Denise Levertov
  9. 9. War Some More , Sandra Osborne
  10. 10. Lessons Of The War , Henry Reed
  11. 11. Meditations In Time Of Civil War , William Butler Yeats
  12. 12. Do Not Weep, Maiden, For War Is Kind , Stephen Crane
  13. 13. Two Poems From The War , Archibald MacLeish
  14. 14. A Meditation In Time Of War , William Butler Yeats
  15. 15. On Receiving News Of The War , Isaac Rosenberg
  16. 16. Nefarious War , Li Po
  17. 17. Repression Of War Experience , Siegfried Sassoon
  18. 18. Spring In War Time , Sara Teasdale
  19. 19. On Being Asked For A War Poem , William Butler Yeats
  20. 20. War Of The Worlds , john tiong chunghoo
  21. 21. Memorial Day For The War Dead , Yehuda Amichai
  22. 22. Woman And War , Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  23. 23. The Next War , Robert Graves
  24. 24. Sonnet 46: Mine Eye And Heart Are At A M.. , William Shakespeare
  25. 25. To Lucasta On Going To The War - For The.. , Robert Graves
  26. 26. War-Music , Henry Van Dyke
  27. 27. Dusk In War Time , Sara Teasdale
  28. 28. The War Films , Sir Henry Newbolt
  29. 29. War Music [down On Your Knees, Achilles] , Christopher Logue
  30. 30. At The War Office, London (Affixing The .. , Thomas Hardy
  31. 31. War...War...War... , joe yourmom
  32. 32. War Profit Litany , Allen Ginsberg
  33. 33. Song-Books Of The War , Siegfried Sassoon
  34. 34. War Song , John Davidson
  35. 35. There Was Crimson Clash Of War. , Stephen Crane
  36. 36. At The War Office, London. , Thomas Hardy
  37. 37. War , Charles Wagner
  38. 38. The Holy War , Rudyard Kipling
  39. 39. War Song , Thomas Moore
  40. 40. - Love Is War! , Ronberge (anno primo)
  41. 41. Man's Civil War , Robert Southwell
  42. 42. Tell Brave Deeds Of War , Stephen Crane
  43. 43. Fortune Of War , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  44. 44. They Gave Us A War That Nobody Wanted , Patrick O'Donnell
  45. 45. A Date With An Anti-War Protester , Chuck Audette
  46. 46. A Radical War Song , Thomas Babbington Macaulay
  47. 47. Declaration Of War , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  48. 48. The Ashantee War , William Topaz McGonagall
  49. 49. War Torn , James Mills
  50. 50. On A Line From Valéry (The Gulf War) , Carolyn Kizer
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