why not merely the despaired of

I have always liked Samuel Beckett’s work, but was not so familiar with his poetry, so it was great to recently discover his piece. Of course it should be no surprise that he was a fine poet as his plays show such mastery of language, both in English and French. In fact, he wrote most of his plays in French first and then translated them into English. I don’t know if the same is true of his poetry.

Beckett’s world is one where people are faced with utter hopelessness, despair, deprivation and misery, where life has no purpose, nothing good is to be expected, and yet people carry on their lives, showing their humanity through continuing the struggle against impossible odds. So I find this a fundamentally optimistic and life-enhancing worldview, despite the bleakness and futility with which his characters are continuously confronted.

This poem has a flavour of that worldview, the tension between despair and hope, resignation and striving comes through clearly throughout the poem.

The title, “Cascando”, means cracking nuts in Spanish. Perhaps within everybody’s hard shell there is a nourishing and rich interior.

And of course, it is an intense and emotional love poem, in its way as strong and direct as anything by Neruda.

 
Samuel Beckett
Cascando

1
why not merely the despaired of
occasion of
wordshed
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

2
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
pretending
I and all the others that will love you
if they love you

3
unless they love you

From <https://www.msu.edu/user/sullivan/BeckettPoem1.html&gt;

There are lines in this poem which jump off the page and grab you by the throat with their intensity, their wisdom and the force of the words to convey the idea:
“is it not better abort than be barren”,
“saying again there is a last even of last times”,
“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”,
“terrified again of not loving of loving and not you of being loved and not by you”.

Wonderful stuff

The Poetry Dude

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