Tuesday, 26 April 2016 16:50

In Brecht's Bar, Glasgow

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in Poetry
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In Brecht's Bar, Glasgow

In Brecht's Bar, Glasgow

“The Hollow Mountain: ever heard of it?"
He placed his glass next ours, then -
"Seat taken? No?" - sat down.

"I overheard you talking.
Seems History's your thing; mine, too,
though all the dates and names
that interest me
are never put in any books at all."

His face was a crumpled grey,
the likeness caught, soon after,
in a painting,
hung now on the bar-room wall.

The big man spoke with us,
an hour or more, of tunnelling:
of howking out the heart of Cruachan
when he was young,
to hold the dynamo that feeds the country
power.

Now dead, he is a part himself - a hero -
in the History he liked to hear.

 

Below is Brecht's original poem, which happens to be the favourite poem of the artist who drew the accompanying cartoon, Bob Starrett.

 

Questions From a Worker Who Reads

by Bertolt Brecht

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?

And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?

Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?

Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

So many reports.

So many questions.

 

You are invited to write a poem in a Brechtian style, and send it to us.

Read 3673 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 May 2016 21:36
David Betteridge

David Betteridge is the author of a collection of poems celebrating Glasgow and its radical traditions, 'Granny Albyn's Complaint', published by Smokestack Books in 2008. He is also the editor of a compilation of poems, songs, prose memoirs, photographs and cartoons celebrating the 1971-2 UCS work-in on Clydeside. This book, called 'A Rose Loupt Oot', was published by Smokestack Books in 2011.