To Bertholt Brecht

William Meredith

I’ve heard that you said, when a scene you had revised
Still didn’t suit a man you used to know,
“But I am not Kafka!” What artist hasn’t sized
Himself in the dwindling lacquer row
Of chinese dolls that, with no loss of face,
Can be out back inside one another now
And only a fool quarrel about his place.

There are such ranks; and yet I quarrel with
Those who have put a price on mere despair,
Ranking a man as he can fetch up death
And senselessness, and finding you famous so.
You called your foe by name: a naive faith.
It is a naive disillusion, everywhere
Fudging the good and bad, we must call foe.

The truth is hidden as cunningly from one
Time as another; what they change is the decoys,
And it takes a wily man to use the gun.
I think you would not be fooled by our bully-boys
Who say, “As Brecht said, I live in an age of blood.”
You might stop with an oath their shrill, untimely noise:
Evil is nothing until it touches good.

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