After the Anschluss and Sudetenland,
before the invasion of Poland,
Bertholt Brecht, in exile from the Third Reich
in a thatched cottage on a Danish island,
posed a question in a short poem –
‘When the dark times arrive will there still be songs?’
As poets tend to do Brecht answered himself.
‘Yes, there will even then be singing – about
the dark times that have come’.
After the arms manufacturer’s profits
have returned to normal, and democratic
politicians’ have devised new distractions
for their electorates, and cheerleaders
who would send other people’s sons and daughters
to war have found new enthusiasms,
and the defeated have been punished,
the pacifists admonished, the victors
exonerated, and much of Africa
and the so-called Middle East has been unpeopled
by famine, and the world continues
to be consumed by fire, drought and flood,
will there still be singing?
Note: For a translation rather than an imitation of Brecht’s ‘In den finsteren Zeiten…’ see Edwin Morgan’s: https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/when-times-darken/.