Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy 104th, Sam

why not merely the despaired of
occasion of


is it not better abort than be barren
the hours after you are gone are so leaden

they will always start dragging too soon

the grapples clawing blindly the bed of want

bringing up the bones the old loves

sockets filled once with eyes like yours

all always is it better too soon than never

the black want splashing their faces

saying again nine days never floated the loved

nor nine months

nor nine lives


saying again

if you do not teach me I shall not learn

saying again there is a last

even of last times

last times of begging

last times of loving

of knowing not knowing pretending

a last even of last times of saying

if you do not love me I shall not be loved

if I do not love you I shall not love

the churn of stale words in the heart again
love love love thud of the old plunger

pestling the unalterable

whey of words

terrified again

of not loving

of loving and not you

of being loved and not by you

of knowing not knowing pretending


I and all the others that will love you
if they love you


unless they love you

Samuel Beckett, *April 13th, 1906


  1. As you said: Christ, what a planet!

    Happy 104th, Sammy! Don't come back. It hasn't changed!

  2. Beckett said that. Not you, Sean. At least, not that I know of....Hahaha!

  3. Beckett is a very great writer, but I must admit that I find his work incredibly uninteresting! After five minutes of listening to his characters prattling on in dustbins or urns I get bored beyond belief. (Give me Joyce any day of the week - I much prefer a writer who throws everything in than cuts everything out...)

  4. In my youth, the French theater group I was with totally agreed with D.E. We laughed at Beckett's Mirlitonnades (gloomy French doggerels.)

    "Vivre est une maladie dont le sommeil nous soulage toutes les seize heures." (Life is a disease relieved by sleep q.sixteen hours.) We would read this and say: Not to worry. Beckett knows how to put us asleep. We called him: Le Somnifère. (The Sleeping Pill.)

    And when someone would praise the sparsity of his voice, there was always another to add: The less Beckett says, the better the world is. But then, we didn't like Camus either. We would proclaim: Absurb is as absurb does!

    Optimistic literary youth can be cruel on the realistic sufferings of middle-aged writers! You can't go and tell a 20-year-old (as Sam did): Those with stomach still to copulate strive in vain.

  5. Claudia,
    sometimes my tongue might get her master's permission to let it slip of her, though. Very seldom, but it might happen. One can never know. As everything, it's part of Omnium. :)

    d'accord. To fully appreciate a work of Beckett, I need to be in the very 'mood', and this 'mood' is - to take your words - not given to me any day of the week.

    Molly Bloom would perhaps say:
    An ideal couple they are, Beckett and Joyce, / one's cutting things short, the other's wallowing in noise.

  6. Ha ha, Claudia,
    he might have forgotten that one - :) well - two can enjoy expeditions to Venus without necessarily reproducing themselves.

  7. I quite liked Beckett when I was younger! The older I become, the less tolerant I become of him. His work radiates nothing for me (and I don't mean that ironically!), and I am not convinced by the overwhelming nullity of his universe. And whenever I hear one of his characters go off on one of their interminably miserable monologues, I hear Bart Simpson's voice in my head, saying "OK! I get it: it sucks to be you!"

  8. I sympathise with Doubtful's position, but I do like Beckett's work, especially when it feels more absurdist and experimental than nihilistic. This poem is a churn of words that are anything but stale in his talented hands.

  9. I'm glad that Stan mentions the poem. The title comes from the French word Cascade (waterfall). I really like Stan's expression for it:churn of words. But I still find it hard to appreciate the thumble.

  10. And a lovely word it is, Claudia. But the expression I used, I borrowed from the poet!

  11. You're right, Stan! I see it now...I had missed it. And that's the trouble we had with the French Beckett. At one point, we said: What's the point? Plainte, plainte, plainte....Nothing but complaint.

    He cried: Ah earth you old extinguisher. And we would laugh, and replied, "Light your candle, Sammy!" Allume ta chandelle, Sammy. No pity in our young hearts!

  12. Chandelle had an amusing double entendre in our mind.

    Interesting post, Sean. I'll try to find out if some of the people of my group are still around in Montréal. It would be fun to hear what they think of Beckett in their maturity.

  13. Allume ta chandelle, Sammy.

    This is lovely. I will try it on someone, some day, whether or not they are called Sammy.

  14. thank you for telling your thoughts! I enjoyed reading them, very much; here and there.
    Not only that I do see your points; rather more than less, I do share them.
    Isn't it fascinating?
    A great writer who is a boring sleeping pill beyong belief; once liked, but ...;
    but ...,
    but ...,
    Re churns: Is it just, because I am no native speaker? I like the words's ambiguity, multiguity even.
    Taking it (churns) as a pars pro toto (read: for Beckett's work, the conclusion which we all might be able to agree on could be: A strange man, not necessarily mad, though; interesting a subject for interesting discussions, anyway; and perhaps even ... a great writer.
    Would you agree?

  15. Agree! Agree! Agree! Partly and wholly!

    Phew!!! A full year coming, not having to think of Sam's peculiarities!

    See you later. alligator!...