February 14: why do i view the wheel change with impatience?

There is a little poem from the aging Bertolt Brecht written in 1953 after the uprising of 17 June. On 17 June workers in communist East Germany (DDR) went on strike. The strike was fiercely put down by East German police and militia with the aid of the Soviet Union. Brecht who had committed to the DDR after the second world war was torn. He wrote a number of delightful clever poems including the much-quoted one called Die Loesung (The Solution) with the memorable line “Would it not be easier for the government to dissolve the people and elect another one?” (Waere es da/ Nich doch einfacher, die Regierung/ Loeste das Volk auf und/ Waehlte ein anderes?).

Another poem from that little selction is called The Wheel Change (Der Radwechsel). It goes:

I sit on the hard shoulder.

The driver is changing the wheel.

I do not like where I’m coming from

I do not like where I’m going to.

Why do I view the wheelchange

With impatience?

(Ich sitze am Strassenhang/ Der Fahrer wechselt das Rad./ Ich bin nicht gern, wo ich herkomme./ Ich bin nich gern, wo ich hinfahre./ Warum sehe ich den Radwechsel /Mit Ungeduld.)

He had lived in America. He now lived in communist East Germany. Is the wheel change a plea to understand that the construction of a better society takes time or not to judge too harshly the imperfections of the regime? Or does it mean he would rather live outside both ideologies?

You can also interpret the poem in a non-political way. To appreciate the work or the journey better. Once you get somewhere it’s never what you thought it would be. We should spend more time out on the road.


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