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Love Poems Paperback – November 2, 2015
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“Papa loved women, many women…His passion, whether expressed to women, to his art, or to his children, seemed all-encompassing.”
- Barbara Brecht-Schall, from the foreword
“The selection in Love Poems is a memorable and necessary reminder of the feeling artist in Brecht, the craftsman of humanistic, dynamic, erotic emotion… Their individualist and anarchic vibrancy do much to alter the diffuse perception of Brecht as an apparatchik with creaky polemical aims. What makes Brecht irresistible in Love Poems is how he ponders and prances as if some disaffected offspring of Petrarch and Catullus reared by the Earl of Rochester… [H]is best love poems match the provocations of his drama, prodding us from somatic complacency and the stultifying mundanity of our domestic lives.”
- William Giraldi, New Republic
About the Author
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.
David Constantine is a freelance writer and translator. His most recent volume of poetry is Elder (2014); his fourth collection of short stories, Tea at the Midland, won the Frank O’ Connor International Short Story Award in 2013.
Tom Kuhn teaches at the University of Oxford, where he is a Fellow of St Hugh’s College. He works on twentieth-century drama and German exile literature and has been, since 1996, editor of the main English-language Brecht edition.
Top customer reviews
I must say that the dust jacket design by Jennifer Heuer has to be one of the best of 2014.
Many of the poems are sonnets, ballads, or "psalms" that approach love in a diagrammatic way, illustrating or declaiming on aspects of it, but nothing they say is terribly insightful or revelatory. If what you want, however, is a kind of catalog of standard (and at times, even stereotypical) sentiments about love expressed (admittedly very competently) through a variety of standard poetic forms, then this could be a good book for you.
My two favorite poems in the collection were "To M" and "The actress in exile". In the first, the actual individual human being who is the poet speaks of his personal experience in a way that doesn't happen much in the rest of the book. The poem even ends with a kind of distorted grammar, as if it were being compressed by the weight of emotion it was asked to bear. In the second, we see an actual individual woman described with great detail and focus. The love implicit in that concentrated gaze is more potent than any generalization about Love found elsewhere in the book.