The Fifth Wheel
We are with you in the hour when you realise
That you are the fifth wheel
And you hope goes from you.
Do not realise it yet.
You rise in mid-sentence
You say crossly that you want to go
We say: stay! and we realise
That you’re the fifth wheel.
But you sit down.
I know you no longer hear
Do not say loudly that the world is bad
Say it softly.
For the four wheels are not too many
But the fifth is
And the world is not bad
Bertolt Brecht – 1940
My young son asks me: Must I learn mathematics?
What is the use, I feel like saying. That two pieces
Of bread are more than one’s about all you’ll end up with.
My young son asks me: Must I learn French?
What is the use, I feel like saying. This State’s collapsing.
And if you just rub your belly with your hand and
Groan, you’ll be understood with little trouble.
My young son asks me: Must I learn history?
What is the use, I feel like saying. Learn to stick
Your head in the earth, and maybe you’ll still survive.
Yes, learn mathematics, I tell him.
Learn your French, learn your history!
Short poems by Bertolt Brecht
And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself
Surely you see that.
This, then, is all. It’s not enough, I know.
At least I’m still alive, as you may see.
I’m like the man who took a brick to show
How beautiful his house used once to be.
CHANGING THE WHEEL
I sit by the road side
The driver changes the wheel.
I do not like the place I have come from.
I do not like the place I am going to.
Why with impatience do I
Watch him changing the wheel?