samuel-beckett

What is the Word by Samuel Beckett:

folly-

folly for to-

for to-

what is the word-

folly from this-

all this-

folly from all this-

given-

folly given all this-

seeing-

folly seeing all this-

this-

what is the word-

this this-

this this here-

all this this here-

folly given all this-

seeing-

folly seeing all this this here-

for to-

what is the word-

see-

glimpse-

seem to glimpse-

need to seem to glimpse-

what-

what is the word-

and where-

folly for to need to seem to glimpse what where-

where-

what is the word-

there-

over there-

away over there-

afar-

afar away over there-

afaint-

afaint afar away over there what-

what-

what is the word-

seeing all this-

all this this-

all this this here-

folly for to see what-

glimpse-

seem to glimpse-

need to seem to glimpse-

afaint afar away over there what-

folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what-

what-

what is the word-

what is the word

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What is the Word was Samuel Beckett`s last poem, written while in the Tiers Temps nursing home in Paris, 1983, where he was recovering from a fall at home; the poem may have been a descriptive cry of exasperation over his struggle to find words, where once he had plucked them easily, as if from the sighs of passing angels. Yet he had once spoken dismissively of his poems, describing them at various times as “worthless…..spittle,” and “turds from my Central Lavatory”. In many ways, his poems were the central heart beat of his career.

As time progressed, his poetry evolved from the allusive early works, which seem to have been envisaged as much longer poems, only to be impatiently reduced and crushed down into shorter, more manageable, simpler, sparer vehicles for his stream of consciousness, as it flits like a hyper active honey bee high on amphetamines from one flower of thought to the next. The evolutionary style of his plays can be plotted by witnessing his poetic experimentations with compact forms such as haiku and sonnets and choosing to end poems without a full stop.

samuel beckett

What is the Word is dedicated to Joe Chaikin; a gentleman who had directed a number of Beckett`s plays, and who had been left with partial aphasia after suffering a stroke – an impairment of language ability. Over a hundred years after his birth, Beckett continues to inspire artists of all kinds: indeed, it could be argued that the man is unique, in that he is as significant today to those working outside of the artistic forms of which he was the undoubted master, as he is for writers. The movement of his characters on stage are balletic, the prose spare; everything is pared down and minimalist, providing a lasting influence on contemporary artists from Jasper Johns to Philip Glass and Atom Egoyan and beyond.

Beckett can not only be found in the company of writers and philosophers, but shoulder to shoulder with visual artists, composers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, architects, and sundry other artists too numerous to mention. To read his poems from start to finish, is to witness, up close and personal, the process by which he made meaningful patterns out of his “wordshed” and gave them the spark of life.

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