Friday 9 December 2016

The Sunday Poem: Anthony Cronin's personal anthology

Everything Changes by Berthold Brecht

Anthony Cronin

Published 02/11/2015 | 02:30

Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin
Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin

It still surprises some people to know that Berthold Brecht (pictured below) is regarded by influential critics as a greater poet than he is a dramatist.

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His poems are almost pure thought with no verbal ­frippery of one kind or another. He spent many years in America as an exile from Nazism and his poetry is often concerned with bread-and-butter issues.

But he was combative, and though not a member of the Party, he was a Communist. On his return to Germany in 1949 he was soon enough engaged in controversy, mostly about ­theatrical productions.

From these controversies he usually emerged as victor, perhaps a living confirmation of Lytton Strachey's dictum that where controversy is concerned, 'it is probably always disastrous not to be a poet'.

Everything Changes

Berthold Brecht

Everything changes. You can make

A fresh start with your final breath.

But what has happened has happened. And the water

You once poured into the wine can not be

Drained off again.

What has happened has happened. The water

You once poured into the wine can not be

Drained off again, but

Everything changes. You can make

A fresh start with your final breath.

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