Brecht on Resisting Austerity

From his wonderful poetry, written some time between 1934 and 1936 in Germany.

“The Shopper”

I am an old woman.
When Germany had awoken
Pension rates were cut. My children
Gave me the pennies they could spare. But
I could hardly buy anything now. So at first
I went less often to the shops where I’d gone daily.
But one day I thought it over, and then
Daily once more I went to the baker’s, the greengrocer’s
As an old customer.
With care I picked provisions
Took no more than I used to, but no less either
Put rolls beside the loaf and leeks beside the cabbage and only
When they added up the bill did I sigh
With my stiff fingers dug into my little purse
And shaking my head confessed that I didn’t have enough
To pay for those few things, and shaking my head I
Left the shop, observed by all the customers.
I said to myself: If all of us who have nothing
No longer turn up where food is laid out
They may think we don’t need anything
But if we come and are unable to buy
They’ll know how it is.

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