When to talk and when to keep silent

Publication Date: March 13, 2014, 12:59 p.m.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Russian poet who “committed suicide” under Stalin…

At the beginning of the 20th century he wrote:

 

The first night, they secretly entered our garden and picked a flower.

And we said nothing.

 

The second night they didn’t hide; they entered the garden, trod on the flowers, killed our dog.

And we said nothing.

 

Then one night, one of them alone, entered our house, stole our light, and knowing our fear, uprooted our voice.

And because we said nothing, now voiceless, we can no longer say anything.

 

 

 

 

After Mayakovsky…

 

 

First they took the Negroes.

I didn’t care.

I am not a Negro!

 

Then they took some workmen. I didn’t care.

I am not a workman!

 

Then they arrested those in rags. Why should I care?

I do not wear rags!

 

Then they grabbed the unemployed.

But I work.

Why should I care?

 

Now they are taking me.

But it’s too late.

I didn’t care about anyone,

Now nobody cares about me!

 

 

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

 

Translation: Panayiota Vlahopoulou

 

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