On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

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~greg
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On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by ~greg »

Bertolt Brecht, Poems, 1913-1956,
Edited by John Willett and Ralph Manheim,
Theatre Arts Books

Translated by Sidney H. Bremer
Bertolt Brecht wrote: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar
----------------------------------

1
Marie Farrar: month of birth, April
An orphaned minor; rickets; birthmarks, none; previously
Of good character, admits that she did kill
Her child as follows here in summary.
She visited a woman in a basement
During her second month, so she reported
And there was given two injections
Which, though they hurt, did not abort it.

But you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

2
But nonetheless, she says, she paid the bill
As was arranged, then bought herself a corset
And drank neat spirit, peppered it as well
But that just made her vomit and disgorge it.
Her belly now was noticeably swollen
And ached when she washed up the plates.
She says that she had not finished growing.
She prayed to Mary, and her hopes were great.

You too I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

3
Her prayers, however, seemed to be no good.
She'd asked too much. Her belly swelled. At Mass
She started to feel dizzy and she would
Kneel in a cold sweat before the Cross.
Still she contrived to keep her true state hidden
Until the hour of birth itself was on her
Being so plain that no one could imagine
That any man would ever want to tempt her.

But you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

4
She says that on the morning of that day
While she was scrubbing stairs, something came clawing
Into her guts. It shook her once and went away.
She managed to conceal her pain and keep from crying.
As she, throughout the day, hung up the washing
She racked her brain, then realized in fright
She was going to give birth. At once a crushing
Weight grabbed at her heart. She didn't go upstairs till night.

And yet I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

5
But just as she lay down they fetched her back again:
Fresh snow had fallen, and it must be swept.
That was a long day. She worked till after ten.
She could not give birth in peace till the household slept.
And then she bore, so she reports, a son.
The son was like the son of any mother.
But she was not like other mothers are - but then
There are no valid grounds why I should mock her.

You too I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

6
So let her finish now and end her tale
About what happened to the son she bore
(She says there's nothing she will not reveal)
So men may see what I am and you are.
She'd just climbed into bed, she says, when nausea
Seized her. Never knowing what should happen till
It did, she struggled with herself to hush her
Cries, and forced them down. The room was still.

And you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

7
The bedroom was ice cold, so she called on
Her last remaining strength and dragged her-
Self out to the privy and there, near dawn
Unceremoniously, she was delivered
(Exactly when, she doesn't know). Then she
Now totally confused, she says, half froze
And found that she could scarcely hold the child
For the servants' privy lets in the heavy snows.

And you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

8
Between the servants' privy and her bed (she says
That nothing happened until then), the child
Began to cry, which vexed her so, she says
She beat it with her fists, hammering blind and wild
Without a pause until the child was quiet, she says.
She took the baby's body into bed
And held it for the rest of the night, she says
Then in the morning hid it in the laundry shed.

But you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.

9
Marie Farrar: month of birth, April
Died in the Meissen penitentiary
An unwed mother, judged by the law, she will
Show you how all that lives, lives frailly.
You who bear your sons in laundered linen sheets
And call your pregnancies a 'blessed' state
Should never damn the outcast and the weak:
Her sin was heavy, but her suffering great.

Therefore, I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.
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linda_lakeside
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Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..

Post by linda_lakeside »

What a story! What a poem! My admiration goes out to all that have these gems hidden away in their heads, bookshelves, closets - wherever treasures are kept.

Linda.
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lizzytysh
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Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Post by lizzytysh »

Dear Greg ~

I finally got the kind of undivided time I needed to give the reading of this poem the attention I knew from its title was deserved. I was heartwrenchingly right in that presumption.

The Calls to Compassion, in the minor variations of
But you I beg, make not your anger manifest
For all that lives needs help from all the rest.
placed at the end of each, progressive verse brought tears to my eyes each time I read them.

This poem does so well in showing abortion through the desperate eyes of a young, very unprepared person, who lacks a support system for bearing a child. It also highlights the burdens of the poor and underprivileged, lacking social status, in our society, as well as the cycles of abuse and neglect; and how incarceration is often ill-considered the appropriate solution to all things. Children having children and both children died premature deaths, without ever having really lived. This writer wrote through the beautiful, soft eyes of compassion. Thank you so much for sharing it.

~ Lizzy

Thank you
Diane

Post by Diane »

Greg, thanks for copying this heart-breaking poem here. How searingly it illustrates the injustice, hypocrisy and horror of a society that allows a mother to feel she has no choice but to kill her child, and then further punishes her for it.

Diane
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lizzytysh
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Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Post by lizzytysh »

Perfect synopsis, Diane.

~ Lizzy
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Kush
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Location: USA

Post by Kush »

Brecht is superb. I am familiar with some of his stuff from his collaboration with Kurt Weill
lloyd150
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Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by lloyd150 »

Beautiful poem - Weddings Parties Anything used this as a basis for their song - which conveyed the same hopelessness.
physkris
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Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by physkris »

If you liked the poem, I cannot recommend enough this fine version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GooOuT56npk) by Paul Hillier on his 2007 Bitter Ballads album.
dar
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2002 1:53 am

Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by dar »

When I saw Greg's name pop up it brought back memories of what an amazing man he was. He contributed so many lively and interesting conversations with his posts to our group. I know he had a very special bond with Ania and that Squidgy and I tried to see him before he left this earth. Thank you Squidgy for connecting with him one last time. RIP Greg.
abby
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:41 pm
Location: southern new mexico/el paso

Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by abby »

{dar} is that how you make a hug? that's a hug, dar. <3
dar
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2002 1:53 am

Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by dar »

Thanks Abby. Hug received. Maybe my memory is not quite right? Was it you and I who were trying to meet up to visit with Greg before he passed and you made it. I know it was hard on you.
abby
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:41 pm
Location: southern new mexico/el paso

Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by abby »

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RXkivKflffE

the memory breaks a bit, too, eh? i listened to that song one summer i spent exploring the redwoods & the coast in california in my twenties. i had had the thought that maybe i could show the redwoods to my mom through my eyes, since my mom was dead, because she'd always wanted to see them, & hadn't made it. do i sound like jack?

my memory isn't the greatest.~greg & i had never been close. i went to see him before he died only because i was going to school nearby & it was convenient for me to be an ambassador for the group.

many, many of these: { } { } { } { }
dar
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2002 1:53 am

Re: On The Infanticide Marie Farrar - Bertolt Brecht

Post by dar »

I thought I remembered correctly. It was precisely because you were not a close friend of Greg that I'm sure it was hard to meet with a dying man from the Cohen site you didn't know well. Especially Greg since he was so unique.
But you went and represented the group and I'd like to think he understood. I really wanted to meet up with you but just couldn't make it all the way. Thanks for sticking around here for many years and sharing. (All those hugs back). Be well and loved.
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