700 Intellectuals Pray to an Oil Tanker

>>1.

Without an invitation
We have come
700 (and many more are on the way)
From all over, where the wind no longer blows
From the treadmills, which grind slowly, and
From the ovens, behind which, it is said
Not even a dog remains.

2.

And we have seen thee
All of a sudden, the night long
Oil tanker.

3.

Yesterday thou wert not there
But today
Thou art the only one.

4.

Come, hurry, ye!
Ye who saw the branch on which ye sit
Working folk!
God has descended again
In the form of an oil tanker.

5.

Thou, the repulsive one
Art gorgeous!
Exercise force over us
Thou, the objective one!
Snuff out our ego!
Make a community out of us!
Then, not as we want:
Rather, as thou wilt.

6.

Thou art not made of ivory
And of ebony, but of
Iron.
Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!
Thou, the unprepossessing one.

7.

Thou art not an invisible one
Nor art thou infinite!
On the other hand, seven metres high
There are no secrets in thee
Rather, there is oil,
And thou dealest with us
Not discretely, nor unfathomably
But with calculation.

8.

What is grass for thee?
Thou sittest on it.
Where, formerly, there was grass
There thou sittest now, oil tanker!
And for thee an emotion is
Naught.

9.

Therefore listen to our prayer
And deliver us from evil.
In the name of electrification
And of progress and statistics!
<<

Bertolt Brecht, ca. 1926.

And just for once spare me the instant reflex that makes so many people say “Iraq” within five seconds after reading just the title line.

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