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Resources for ages 15-18 in Language & Literature

Teaching Tools, 14 March 2007

Bertolt Brecht

Concerning the Label Emigrant

in Refugees: An Anthology of Poems and Songs. Edited by Brian Coleman. Ottawa 1988

I always found the name false which they gave us: Emigrants.

That means those who leave their country. But we

Did not leave, of our own free will

Choosing another land. Nor did we enter

Into a land, to stay there, if possible for ever.

Merely, we fled. We are driven out, banned.

Not a home, but an exile, shall the land be that took us in.

Restlessly we wait thus, as near as we can to the frontier

Awaiting the day of return, every smallest alteration

Observing beyond the boundary, zealously asking

Every arrival, forgetting nothing and giving up nothing

And also not forgiving anything which happened, forgiving nothing

Ah, the silence of the Sound does not deceive us! We hear the shrieks

From their camp even here. Yes, we ourselves

Are almost like rumours of crimes, which escaped

Over the frontier. Every one of us

Who with torn shoes walks through the crowd

Bears witness to the shame which now defiles our land.

But none of us

Will stay here. The final word

Is yet unspoken.