Die Maske des Bösen (“The Mask of Evil”)
by Bertolt Brecht
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
A Japanese woodcarving hangs on my wall—
the mask of an ancient demon, limned with golden lacquer.
Not unsympathetically, I observe
the forehead’s bulging veins,
such malevolence requires.
Original German text:
Die Maske des Bösen
An meiner Wand hängt ein japanisches Holzwerk
Maske eines bösen Dämons, bemalt mit Goldlack.
Mitfühlend sehe ich
Die geschwollenen Stirnadern, andeutend
Wie anstrengend es ist, böse zu sein.
Bertolt Brecht [1898-1956] was a major German poet, playwright, novelist, humorist, essayist, theater director and songwriter. Brecht fled Germany in 1933, when ****** assumed power. A number of Brecht's poems were written from the perspective of a man who sees his country becoming increasingly fascist, xenophobic and militaristic. Keywords/Tags: Bertolt Brecht, German, translation, Holocaust, poem, Japanese, carving, mask, demon, evil, malevolence, sympathy, compassion, understanding, feeling, forehead, veins, swollen, bulging, effort, strain, exhausting, concentration, suggest, suggesting, suggestive, demonstrating, revealing, showing, wall, gold, golden, lacquer, paint, woodwork, totem, malice, hatred, enmity, spite, spitefulness, animosity, anger, maliciousness, malignancy, venom, spleen, viciousness
Bertolt, Brecht, German, translation, Holocaust, poem, Japanese, carving, mask, demon, evil, malevolence