Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ballad of the Drop in the Ocean

The summer has arrived, and the summer sky
Shines on you too.
The water is warm, and in the warm water
You too lie.
On the green meadows you have
Pitched your tents. The roads
Heard your singing. The forest
Welcomes you. So
    You're no longer poor? There's more in the pot?
    You're being cared for? Content with your lot?
    So things are looking up, then? They're not:
    It's a drop in the ocean, that's what.


The forest has welcomed men with no homes. The lovely sky
Is shining on men with no hope. Those living in summer tents
Have no other shelter. Those lying in the warm water
Have not eaten. Those
Tramping the roads were simply carrying on
Their incessant search for work.
    You're still as poor. There's no more in the pot.
    You're not being cared for. You can't accept your lot.
    Are things looking up, then? No, they're not:
    It's a drop in the ocean, that's what.


Will you be content with nothing but the shining sky?
Will the warm water never release you again?
Will the forest hold on to you?
Are you being fobbed off? Are you being consoled?
The world is waiting for you to put your demands
It needs your discontent, your suggestions.
The world is looking to you with its last thread of hope.
    It's time you firmly said you will not
    Accept the drop, but must have the whole lot. 

Bertolt Brecht, 1931; trans. John Willett

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