The Unconquerable Inscription

unconquerble txt

Bertolt Brecht

During the First World War
In a cell of the Italian prison in San-Carlo
Chock-full of deserters, marauders, tramps,
A socialist soldier, with an indelible pencil, scratched on the wall:

“Long live Lenin!”
Written high up, near the very ceiling
of the half-dark cell,
those words could be hardly distinguished.
But the warders saw them
and sent a painter into the cell,
Armed with a brush and a  bucket of whitewash
to blot out the dangerous phrase

But the painter just traced it over  with whitewash
And again it appeared on the wall
this time not in pencil, but in chalk:

“Long Live Lenin!”
another painter came in and slapped whitewash all
over the wall.

The inscription, it seemed, had vanished. But then,
the next morning
the  moisture dried up, and again it stood out
through the chalk:

“Long Live Lenin!”
Now the warders come in with a stonemason
holding a scraper.
For a whole hour, he scraped off letter after letter,
yet when he had finished, again it shone in the cell,
cut in stone, the unconquerable inscription:

“Long Live Lenin!”
“Now, you can knock down the wall if you like,”
Said the soldier.

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