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Click title for German original



From Three Penny Opera.  Portions of this lyric go back to 1916

On the Inadequacy of Human Planning

Man lives by his head
His head does not suffice.
Just try - then check your head
At most you’ll find some lice.
For this life he’s just too slow               
No matter how he tries,       
He’ll simply never know           
Its all a pack of lies.         

Sure, make a great big plan!
Hitch up to a star!
Then make yourself a second plan:
Both won’t get you far.
For what this life brings,                
He’s not bad enough a creature                      
Yet Man’s striving for higher things            
Is a very noble feature.                  

Sure, go on chasing happiness
But that’s pretty hard to find
‘Cause we’re all chasing happiness
And happiness lags behind.
For Man in this existence,  
Lacks humility, has illusion
Thus all of his persistence
Is just self-delusion

Man is just no good
So whack him on the head
When you’ve whacked him on the head
Then maybe he’ll be good.
Life on earth is pretty grim:
Kindness is what he’s lacking,
So whack him, whack him
On the head, and keep on whacking. 

make a plan

Click on poem titles for German original.


from Three Penny Opera


Love Song

Do you see the moon over Soho?
I see it, my dear.
Do you feel my heart beating, my beloved?
I feel it, my beloved.    
Wherever you go, I will go with you.
And where you stay, I will be there too.
And if there’s no license from City Hall,                       
And no church nor even a prayer,                         
And your dress is from St. Vincent de Paul,                                   
And there’s no myrtle in your hair.                    
The plate from which you eat your meal -                                  Don’t look at it too long. Fling it away!            
Love lasts or doesn’t, either here or there.                     
And there’s nothing more to say.    

love song

MacHeath and Polly in Three Penny Opera, film version

Click title for German original



The Drowned Girl

After she had drowned and floated on by,
On down from the brooks to the bigger streams
Her companion, the great opal of the sky  
Clothed her in light of a marvelous gleam.

Kelp and algae held to her skin
Slowly she grew heavier during the day
Cooly the fishes swam between her limbs
Plants and animals slowing her final way.

And the sky at evening turned dark as smoke
Held starlight in balance, a clouded night.
Dawn came early to grant her an uncloaked
Day, one last morning, evening, clear and bright

When her pale body had turned into a rotten mass,                     It happened (very slowly) that God gradually forgot
First her face, then her hands, her hair the very last,
Carrion, born in the rivers with much other rot.


(1919 or 1920)


Click on title for German original


Springtime is coming


Springtime is coming.
The play of the sexes begins all over again.
Lovers find their way one to the other.
Even the gentle hand of her lover clasping hers
Makes the bosom of the girl shudder.
Her fleeting glance seduces him.  


In springtime the landscape
Appears new to lovers. The first swarms of birds
Are sighted at great heights.
The air is already warm.
The days grow long and
Meadows stay bright long into the day.

In springtime the growth of the trees and the grasses
Knows no measure.
The forest, the meadows, the fields
Are ceaselessly fertile,
And the earth heedlessly gives birth
To the new.


(First half of 1931 for the film Kuhle Wampe, then set to music by Hans Eisler. )



Spring is coming

Click on title for German original

Final Chorus

Do not pursue injustice overly much.  One day
Soon - due to the cold - it will freeze on its own.
Think of the dark, the great cold that holds sway
In this vale of tears,  where we suffer and moan.


final chorus
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