Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 127

Because what is being parodied is so obscured, the poetry becomes,
as always, very much Brecht's own.
It is unnecessary, no doubt, to point out that Brecht is much
better known as a playwright than as a poet pure and simple. He
began his career in the early nineteen·twenties as a writer of
Expressionist plays in prose, whose savage power and originality
soon set him apart. Poetry seems to have been a side issue at first.
Yet it was largely due, I believe, to the fact that Brecht was a poet
and wrote verse with conscience that he was able to develop boldly
and to become the writer of
Die Heilige
]oh(]J1,na der SchlachthOfe,
and so the unique force which he is. To
say this is almost equivalent to saying that Shakespeare. would
never have been what he was had he not written verse, but we have
become too much accustomed lately to accepting the drama as
entirely independent of poetry. It is poetry that "sparks" Brecht's
work, whether in verse or in prose. His instincts and habits as a
poet enforce the incisiveness, shape and measure which characterize
almost everything he does. What is remarkable is that this sense of
form is part of Brecht's originality and not a constraint upon it,
for it creates forms as strong-in Brecht's hands-as those it
Brecht's gift is the gift of language, and this gift communi–
cates what seems to me the most original literary temperament to
have appeared anywhere in the last twenty years.
is Brecht's
originality that I want to emphasize, not simply as a virtue in itself,
but as a germinative influence, as something that can deflect the
course of poets in English as well as in German from over-grazed
and backward provinces to fresher and richer territories.
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