‘Snow meant for them’

Today’s poem is by German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht and is one of my favorites. I was first introduced to it during a Civic Reflection workshop a decade ago. The poem stirs wide-ranging and seemingly infinite questions about homelessness, generosity, philanthropy and social reform. It’s fantastic fodder for philanthropic discussions (perhaps even debates) and insights.

“The snow meant for them falls on the roadway,” a most striking phrase, paints a vivid and layered scene. This line actually appears twice, affirming it as a pivotal point. I could linger on that line alone for a week.

Which line from this poem intrigues you most?

A BED FOR THE NIGHT

I hear that in New York
At the corner of 26th Street and Broadway
A man stands every evening during the winter months
And gets beds for the homeless there
By appealing to passers-by.

It won’t change the world
It won’t improve relations among men
It will not shorten the age of explotation
But a few men have a bed for the night
For a night the wind is kept from them
The snow meant for them falls on the roadway.

Don`t put down the book on reading this, man.

A few people have a bed for the night
For a night the wind is kept from them
The snow meant for them falls on the roadway
But it won’t change the world
It won’t improve relations among men
It will not shorten the age of exploitation.

— Bertolt Brecht

Poem, Day 7

The snow meant for them

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