January 2013        

A worker reads and asks questions

Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Jack Mitchell

As we brace ourselves for the budget, which will continue to dish out austerity for working people and riches for the bankers and politicians, we suggest taking a moment to reflect on who exactly produces the wealth in any society, including ours.

Who built seven-gated Thebes
In the books you’ll find the names of kings.
Was it the kings that lugged those hunks of rock?
And what of Babylon, so often demolished?
Who rebuilt it time and again? In which
Of golden Lima’s houses lived its builders?
On the day the Chinese Wall was finished where
Did the masons go in the evening? Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arches. Who raised them? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium of the songs
Palaces only, for its inhabitants? Even in fabulous Atlantis,
The very night the sea swallowed it,
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
All alone?
Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Didn’t he have so much as a cook with him?
Phillip of Spain wept when his fleet
Sank. Did no others shed tears?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Year War.
Who else?

A victory on every page.
Who cooked the victory feast?
A great man every ten years.
Who paid the bill?

So many accounts.
So many questions.

Home page  >  Publications  >  Socialist Voice  >  January 2013  >  A worker reads and asks questions
Baile  >  Foilseacháin  >  Socialist Voice  >  Eanair 2013  >  A worker reads and asks questions