Cantata on the day of Lenin's death (Bertolt Brecht, 1935)


The day Lenin passed away
A soldier of the death watch, so runs the story, told his comrades:
I did not want to believe it. I went inside, and
shouted in his ear: ‘Ilyich
The exploiters are on their way!’ He did not move.
Now I knew that he has expired.
When a good man wants to leave
How can you hold him back?
Tell him why he is needed.
That holds him.
What could hold Lenin back ?
The soldier thought
When he hears, the exploiters are coming
He may be ever so ill, he will still get up
Perhaps he will come on crutches,
perhaps he will let himself be carried,
but he will get up and come
in order to confront the exploiters.
The soldier knew, that is to say, that Lenin
throughout his life, had carried on a struggle
against the exploiters.
And the soldier who had taken part
In the storming of the Winter Palace wanted to return home, because there
the landed estates were being distributed.
Then Lenin had told him: stay on!
The exploiters are there still.
And so long there is exploitation
one must struggle against it.
So long as you exist
you must struggle against it.
The weak do not fight. The stronger
fight on perhaps for an hour.
Those who are stronger still fight for many years.
The strongest fight on all their life.
These are indispensable.




Bertolt Brecht, 1935 


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