Widely celebrated as the greatest German playwright of the twentieth century, Bertolt Brecht was also, as George Steiner observed, “that very rare phenomenon, a great poet, for whom poetry is an almost everyday visitation and drawing of breath.” Hugely prolific, Brecht also wrote more than two thousand poems—though fewer than half were published in his lifetime, and early translations were heavily censored. Now, award-winning translators David Constantine and Tom Kuhn have heroically translated more than 1,200 poems in the most comprehensive English collection of Brecht’s poetry to date. Written between 1913 and 1956, these poems celebrate Brecht’s unquenchable “love of life, the desire for better and more of it,” and reflect the technical virtuosity of an artist driven by bitter and violent politics, as well as by the untrammeled forces of love and erotic desire. A monumental achievement and a reclamation, The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht is a must-have for any lover of twentieth-century poetry.
Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) was a German poet, playwright, and theater director. In those capacities, and also as a polemical essayist, he contributed powerfully to the chief literary and political debates of his day, and lastingly influenced theatrical theory and practice. He left more than 2,000 poems, assuring him a place among the very best lyric poets of Germany.