Give[s] a sense of the fertility of his pristine, unsentimental language and the breadth of subject and form ... A collection this size is often said to contain something for everybody. In this one, every reader is sure to find something to take offense at ... and yet 'Brecht is a great poet,' the translators write in their introduction, 'one of the three or four best in the whole of German literature.' This volume holds enough evidence to support that claim ... For all its dry precision Brecht’s language in works like this retains poetic dignity. The poet speaks in unadorned verses like an orator with a soapbox under his feet. These lines demand to be recited slowly, with clear enunciation as in an echoing space.
This immense book of poems couldn’t be less obscure or difficult—not that they lack subtleties, especially of voice ... The poetry of protest—against war, fascism, prostitution, poverty, cruelty, and callousness—has no finer practitioner, whose work these formally faithful translations make almost as powerful in English as in German.
If this collection of Bertolt Brecht’s poems in English were half its length, it would be great; if a third, spectacular; if a quarter, indispensable ... The gigantism perplexes me ... Do we really have such gargantuan appetites for (mostly small) poems? It seems to take an unduly long time in the new collection before one reaches familiar ground ... the first time I encountered a little run of poems I enjoyed and thought were worth reading (which is surely how a big book like this sinks or swims), it was after page 50 ... I have every expectation that when a 200- or 300-page selection is made from this collection—what the film people call 'exploiting the rights' to it—it will be an important book, and something everyone should have.