Bertolt Brecht

(10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956 / Augsburg)

Contemplating Hell


Contemplating Hell, as I once heard it,
My brother Shelley found it to be a place
Much like the city of London. I,
Who do not live in London, but in Los Angeles,
Find, contemplating Hell, that it
Must be even more like Los Angeles.

Also in Hell,
I do not doubt it, there exist these opulent gardens
With flowers as large as trees, wilting, of course,
Very quickly, if they are not watered with very expensive water. And fruit markets
With great leaps of fruit, which nonetheless

Possess neither scent nor taste. And endless trains of autos,
Lighter than their own shadows, swifter than
Foolish thoughts, shimmering vehicles, in which
Rosy people, coming from nowhere, go nowhere.
And houses, designed for happiness, standing empty,
Even when inhabited.

Even the houses in Hell are not all ugly.
But concern about being thrown into the street
Consumes the inhabitants of the villas no less
Than the inhabitants of the barracks.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Andrew Hoellering (12/3/2009 11:27:00 PM)

    Brecht was perceptive when it came to capitalist society -he knew his Karl Marx -and scathing about the pursuit of profit for its own end in the consumer society- his last two verses especially remain appropriate to today. Such insights however failed him when it came to communist dictatorships. (Report) Reply

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