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I'm not saying anything against Alexander -- Bertolt Brecht

Guest poem submitted by Nick Blackburn:
(Poem #927) I'm not saying anything against Alexander
 Timur, I hear, took the trouble to conquer the earth.
 I don't understand him.
 With a bit of hard liquor you can forget the earth.

 I'm not saying anything against Alexander,
 Only I have seen people who were remarkable,
 Highly deserving of your admiration
 For the fact that they were alive at all.

 Great men generate too much sweat.
 In all of this I see just a proof that
 They couldn't stand being on their own
 And smoking and drinking and the like.
 And they must be too mean-spirited to get
 Contentment from sitting by a woman.
-- Bertolt Brecht
There is a program on BBC Radio 4, Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. called
Something Understood. It seeks to be a rambling multi-faith, multi-(audio)
medium session, exploring a given topic. It is rarely engrossing, often
annoying, usually has something worth noting and every once in a while has
something worth waking up for on a Sunday morning.

Last Sunday's was entitled Feet of Clay. It included a sequence of poems,
which worked together beautifully, written by Brecht, Kipling and Belloc.

I don't think any of the three poems have appeared on WM and though Kipling
and Belloc are represented on the site, there is no Brecht. In fact, I
cannot find the Brecht anywhere. This presents a few difficulties:

1. I'm not sure it is a poem - maybe it is just lines from a play. No
matter, it sounds like a poem.
2. Having failed to find it, I have had to transcribe it (I recorded the
repeat on Sunday night). Inventing the line structure for a poem you have
only ever heard is an interesting challenge - have a try.
3. Some of the words are wrong. I always have this problem with pop-songs -
I can hum the tune but only guess at the words. I'm sure most are right in
this case but real egg on face - the first word is almost certainly wrong.
It sounded like "Timor" but the only reference I can find to Timor on the
net is the island of East Timor. So it goes [1].

On the poem itself, I agree almost completely with the sentiments and love
two lines in particular - "Great men generate too much sweat" and the final
sentence. Overall it is a fine complement to my favourite Shakespeare
sonnet, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun". They are both saying
that ... well see for yourself.

Nick.

[1] Brecht is almost certainly referring to the Mongol conqueror Timur
("born 1336, Kesh, near Samarkand, Transoxania [now in Uzbekistan]; died Feb
19, 1405, Otrar, near Chimkent [now Shymkent, Kazakstan]; also spelled
Timour, byname Timur Lenk, or Timurlenk (Turkish: "Timur the Lame"), English
Tamerlane, or Tamburlaine; Turkic conqueror of Islamic faith, chiefly
remembered for the barbarity of his conquests from India and Russia to the
Mediterranean Sea and for the cultural achievements of his dynasty." -- EB).
t.

[Minstrels Links]

Poem #506, Lament for Zenocrate  -- Christopher Marlowe
Poem #44, My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun (Sonnets CXXX)  --
William Shakespeare

51 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

jmhogan said...

nice one nick. brecht wld have enjoyed it. but where is the original to be found? or is this it? all best wishes augustus young

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