Franz Kafka Knew

My song, Franz Kafka Knew, was inspired by two tales by Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, and The Trial, which I refer to in the third verse of my song.

Franz Kafka Knew

Franz Kafka knew, he knew it was bad.
He could see through, so clear it seemed mad,
until he grew too stern to be sad.

They made it grim, the machine men in charge,
they who had power to wield loud and large.
They hit the table with a hammer,
to silence the regular folk
with their petitions and appeals,
to make them fail, quail and stammer.

So he wrote his tales,
one of a man who woke as a spider,
another of a man
roughly arrested and put on trial,
never knowing for what crime
or who was the decider.

Franz Kafka knew, he knew it was bad.
What he thought true was what made him sad.
He was too sane to say who he thought was mad.
Franz Kafka knew, but what could he do,
except write his tales, concoct his own brew?
Franz Kafka knew, he knew what he knew.
Franz Kafka knew, he knew what went into the stew.
Franz Kafka knew.


  1. Well done, Philip. The simple, repetitive two-chord structure is just right for the lyrical content. You’ve reminded me how pwerful I found Kafka’s books when I read them (over fifty years ago now!)

  2. It’s a long time since I read Metamorphosis but I remember the nightmarish story catching my attention. Sometimes expressing deep, difficult feelings such as alienation can only be tackled with surrealist ideas. I think I might have a copy of Metamorphosis upstairs somewhere …hopefully in English! My German’s very ropey these days.

  3. Thank you very much for your interesting comment. My copy of Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, with an introduction by Adam Thirlwell, translated from the German by Willa and Edwin Muir, was published by Vintage Classics in 2018. I think Franz Kafka paid the price of seeing through other human beings and human institutions too clearly, which I tried to suggest in my song.