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Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht


Poet: Bertolt Brecht

Dates: 10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956

Nationality:  German

Title of Poem: O Germany, Pale Mother!

Let others speak of her shame,
I speak of my own.

O Germany, pale mother!
How soiled you are
As you sit among the peoples.
You flaunt yourself
Among the besmirched.

The poorest of your sons
Lies struck down.
When his hunger was great.
Your other sons
Raised their hands against him.
This is notorious.

With their hands thus raised,
Raised against their brother,
They march insolently around you
And laugh in your face.
This is well known.

In your house
Lies are roared aloud.
But the truth
Must be silent.
Is it so?

Why do the oppressors praise you everywhere,
The oppressed accuse you?
The plundered
Point to you with their fingers, but
The plunderer praises the system
That was invented in your house!

Whereupon everyone sees you
Hiding the hem of your mantle which is bloody
With the blood
Of your best sons.

Hearing the harangues which echo from your house,
men laugh.
But whoever sees you reaches for a knife
As at the approach of a robber.

O Germany, pale mother!
How have your sons arrayed you
That you sit among the peoples
A thing of scorn and fear!

Brief Biography: Becht was a Marxist poet and playwright. The devout faith of his mother had a profound effect on Brecht’s writing as did the image of the self-denying woman. He served briefly in WW1 as a medical orderly and fled Germany in fear of persecution when Hitler took power. During WW2 Brecht was a prominent writer for Exilliteratur and expressed his opposition to the Nation Socialist and Fascist movements.