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So Many Questions

December 30, 2010

A  WORKER  READS  HISTORY

 

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?

The books are filled with the names of  kings.

Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?

And Babylon, so many times destroyed.

Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s  houses,

that city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?

In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished

Where did the masons go?  Imperial Rome

is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom

did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.

Were all her dwellings palaces?  And even in Atlantis of the

legend

the night the seas rushed in,

the drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

 

Young Alexander conquered Inida.

He alone?

Caesar beat the Gauls.

Was there not even a cook in his army?

Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet

was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?

Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.

Who triumphed with him?

 

Each page a victory

At whose expense the victory ball?

Every ten years a great man,

Who paid the piper?

 

So many particulars.

So many questions

 

                                         —Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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