Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 123

of a convenient form that he parodies liturgical style so much. He
means to have his tongue in his cheek when he says sin, but his
tongue comes out; for Brecht, without believing in religious virtues
or being a mystic, is conscious of sin the way a believer is. It fills
him with an unaccountable horror and fascinates him, as it fasci–
nated Baudelaire, because for himself it really has the quality of
sin. He is never less a parodist than when he parodies Luther or
the Old Testament, whether to curse life in general or only
Hitler. It is
style of his temperament.
Untill927 at least, Brecht rejected everything, Lenin as well
as the Kaiser. He wrote a poem about the Red Army:
In diesen ]ahren fiel das Wort Freiheit
Aus Miindem, drinnen Eis zerbrach.
Und viele sah man mit Tigergebissen
Z iehend der roten, unmenschlichen Fa/me nach.
. . .
Und mit dem Leib, von Regen hart
Und mit dem Herz versehrt von Eis
Und mit den blutbefleckten leeren Hiinden
So kommen wir grinsend in euer Paradeis.
(In those years the word freedom fell from mouths in which ice cracked.
And many were seen with tiger jaws, following the red, inhuman flag....
And with our bodies hardened by rain, and with our hear·ts seared by ice,
and with our blood-stained empty hands, we come grinning into your
Since Schiller and the
Sturm und Drang
there has been a tradition
in Germany of the young poet as reckless rebel-who finally takes
a responsible position towards society. Brecht has in his way fol–
lowed this trite pattern. Becoming a Communist some time around
1927, he went through what might be called a change of personal–
ity. He was converted. He abandoned his passive irresponsibility
for an attitude so utterly earnest that it is almost suspect. Turning
didactic poet in the most literal sense, he saw beyond the ends of
poetry as poetry the obligation to teach the ignorant and poor how
to change the world.
was as a result of his previous poetry rather than because
he had set out to write with such an intention, that Brecht began to
believe that it was possible to produce contemporary poetry and
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