Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 126

126
PARTISAN REVIEW
The mutations of Stalin's line have had a considerable effect
upon Brecht's writing. Especially since Hitler and exile placed
him more than ever at the mercy of the Communist Party apparatus
for an audience and honorariums. He went along into the Popular
Front, submitted to "socialist realism" with the required docility,
and put his theories of the "epic" drama on a shelf for future
reference, as he himself says more or less in an extenuating note
to the "anti-fascist" play
Senora Carrera's Rifles.
The tautness of
the "epic" manner slackens into more conventional prose, and he
began to write poems in something of the old
Hauspostille
vein.
He arrives at a synthesis: loosely cadenced verse, rhymed and
unrhymed, heavier, more uneven, less understated and dry than
before. The relaxed rhythms seem to express a slackening political
certainty. Brecht begins to lament again and to inveigh. He no
longer teaches, he is no longer so positive. But his old skill is still
there: he remains as quick and as sure in his sensitivity to language
as an animal in its instincts. He can still write a poem like the
Verschollener Ruhm der Riesenstadt New-York
or "Faded Renown
of the Metropolis New York":
...
Ach, diese Stimmen ihrer Frauen aus den Schalldosen!
So sang man ( bewahrt diese Platten auf!) im goldnen
Zeitalter!
Wohllaut der abendlichen Wasser von Miami!
Unaufhaltsame Heiterkeit der ilber nie endende Strassen
schnell fahrenden Geschlechter!
Machtvolle Trauer singender Weiber in Zuversicht
Breitbrustige Manner beweinend, aber immer noch umgeben
von
Breitbrilstigen Miinnern!
(Oh the voices of its women from the phonograph cabinets! Thus did they
sing (preserve these records!) in the golden age! Melody at evening
of
the waters of Miami! Unceasing cheerfulness of the generations that speed
along never-ending streets! Mighty sorrow of singing women weeping
trustfully over broad-chested men, yet ever surrounded by broad-chested
men!)
Here Brecht is an outspoken parodist once more. It would be diffi·
cult to specify just which of several elegiac manners he is parody·
ing, yet we are definitely aware that he is parodying something.
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