So many events, so many questions

I was comparing some past researches when I asked myself if a waterwheel could be estimated more important than a poem or maybe they should have the same value within our cultural baggage.

Time is illustrated by history, through literature and by the objects that shaped it.

Brecht ruota idraulica
Ruota idraulica
Ph credit: Musil Brescia

Today, I suggest you this poem of Bertolt Brecht – German playwright and poet.

In the collection entitled “Svendborger Gedichte”, there is our “Questions from a worker who reads” – the poet through a seesaw rhythm answers all the questions that a worker could make thinking about all past events.

We have to remember that beyond all abandoned factories, there are workers that have been shaping history till now.

This poem is a tribute to those ones who left a mark in the history of these places. Enjoy the read!

Bertolt Brecht, “Questions from a worker who reads” (1935)

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?

And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?

Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?

Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

So many reports.

So many questions.



Translated by Andrea Consalvi