For that little bird whisper in your ear "That's all very well but wait a year And we will join the big brass band And with our trumpet in our hand We will march in lockstep with the rest. But one day, look! The battalions wheel! The whole thing swings from east to west! And falling on our knees, we squeal: The Lord God, He knows best! (But don't give me that!)"

Described by Brecht as at her most depraved point in the play, Mother Courage sings the "Song of the Great Capitulation" to a young soldier seeking to rectify an injustice performed by his captain. She herself awaits the captain to file a complaint against the army. Intended to deflate the young soldier's rage, the song tells of a proud man who joins the army and quickly submits to both its discipline and surrender. His capitulation is the capitulation of the masses, thus the shift from the "you" to "we." It ends in a quivering before God, a motif that prefigures in the capitulation of the peasants in Scene 11. Here Courage learns by teaching, her cynical realism driving both the soldier and then herself from the officer's tent. To succeed, this scene must above all alienate the spectator from the spectacle or else risk seducing it with the pleasures of capitulation. Note in this respect how Brecht also underlines Courage's bitter awareness of capitulation's indignity with the parenthetical "But don't give me that!"