Thursday, 20 June 2013

WB // Commentaries on Poems by Brecht

The War Primer is written in 'lapidary' style. The word comes from the Latin lapis, 'stone', and describes the style which was developed for Roman inscriptions. Its most important characteristic was brevity. This was conditioned, first, by the effort required to chisel the words in stone; second, by the realization that for one who speaks to a succession of generations it is seemly to be brief.
If stone - the natural condition of lapidary style - is no longer the material of these poems, what has taken its place? What justifies their inscription style? One of them hints at an answer. It reads:

On the wall was chalked;
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

The first line of this poem could be placed at the head of each of the War Primer poems. These inscriptions are not, like those of the Romans, intended for stone but, like those of underground fighters, for fences.

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