A Piece of Monologue
by Samuel Beckett
was the death of him. Again. Words are few. Dying too. Birth was the
death of him. Ghastly grinning ever since. Up at the lid to come. In
cradle and crib. At suck first fiasco. With the first totters. From
mammy to nanny and back. All the way. Bandied back and forth. So
ghastly grinning on. From funeral to funeral. To now. This night. Two
and a half billion seconds. Again. Two and a half billion seconds. Hard
to believe so few. From funeral to funeral. Funerals of ... he all but
said of loved ones. Thirty thousand nights. Hard to believe so few.
Born dead of night. Sun long sunk behind the larches. New needles
turning green. In the room dark gaining. Till faint light from standard
lamp. Wick turned low. And now. This night. Up at nightfall. Every
nightfall. Faint light in room. Whence unknown. None from window. No.
Next to none. No such thing as none. Gropes to window and stares out.
Stands there staring out. Stock still staring out. Nothing stirring in
that black vast. Gropes back in the end to where the lamp is standing.
Was standing. When last went out. Loose matches in right-hand pocket.
Strikes one on his buttock the way his father taught him. Takes off
milk white globe and sets it down. Match goes out. Strikes a second as
before. Takes off chimney. Smoke-clouded. Holds it in left hand. Match
goes out. Strikes a third as before and sets it to wick. Puts back
chimney. Match goes out. Puts back globe. Turns wick low. Backs away to
edge of light and turns to face east. Blank wall. So nightly. Up.
Socks. Nightgown. Window. Lamp. Backs away to edge of light and stands
facing blank wall. Covered with pictures once. Pictures of ... he all
but said of loved ones. Unframed. Unglazed. Pinned to wall with
drawing-pins. All shapes and sizes. Down one after another. Gone. Torn
to shreds and scattered. Strewn all over the floor. Not at one sweep.
No sudden fit of ... no word. Ripped from the wall and torn to shreds
one by one. Over the years. Years of nights. Nothing on the wall now
but the pins. Not all. Some out with the wrench. Some still pinning a
shred. So stands there facing blank wall. Dying on. No more no less.
No. Less. Less to die. Ever less. Like light at nightfall. Stands there
facing east. Blank pinpocked surface once white in shadow. Could once
name them all. There was father. That grey void. There mother. That
other. There together. Smiling. Wedding day. There all three. That grey
blot. There alone. He alone. So on. Not now. Forgotten. All gone so
long. Gone. Ripped off and torn to shreds. Scattered all over the
floor. Swept out of the way under the bed and left. Thousand shreds
under the bed with the dust and spiders. All the ... he all but said
the loved ones. Stands there facing the wall staring beyond. Nothing
there either. Nothing stirring there either. Nothing stirring anywhere.
Nothing to be seen anywhere. Nothing to be heard anywhere. Room once
full of sounds. Faint sounds. Whence unknown. Fewer and fainter as time
wore on. Nights wore on. None now. No. No such thing as none. Rain some
nights still slant against the panes. Or dropping gentle on the place
beneath. Even now. Lamp smoking through wick turned low. Strange. Faint
smoke issuing through vent in globe. Low ceiling stained by night after
night of this. Dark shapeless blot on surface elsewhere white. Once
white. Stands facing wall after the various motions described. That is
up at nightfall and into gown and socks. No. In them already. In them
all night. All day. All day and night. Up at nightfall in gown and
socks and after a moment to get his bearings gropes to window. Faint
light in room. Unutterably faint. Whence unknown. Stands stock still
staring out. Into black vast. Nothing there. Nothing stirring. That he
can see. Hear. Dwells thus as if unable to move again. Turns in the end
and enough will left to move again. Turns in the end and gropes to
where he knows the lamp is standing. Thinks he knows. Was last
standing. When last went out. Match one is described for globe. Two for
chimney. Three for wick. Chimney and globe back on. Turns wick low.
Backs away to edge of light and turns to face wall. East. Still as the
lamp by his side. Gown and socks white to take faint light. Once white.
Hair white to take faint light. Foot of pallet just visible edge of
frame. Once white to take faint light. Stands there staring beyond.
Nothing. Empty dark. Till first word always the same. Night after night
the same. Birth. Then slow fade up of a faint form. Out of the dark. A
window. Looking west. Sun long sunk behind the larches. Light dying.
Soon none left to die. No. No such thing as no light. Starless moonless
heaven. Dies on to dawn and never dies. There in the dark that window.
Night slowly falling. Eyes to the small pane glaze at that first night.
Turn from it in the end to face the darkened room. There in the end
slowly a faint hand. Holding aloft a lighted spill. In the light of
spill faintly the hand and milkwhite globe. Then second hand. In light
of spill. Takes of globe and disappears. Reappears empty. Takes off
chimney. Two hands and chimney in light of spill. Spill to wick.
Chimney back on. Hand with spill disappears. Second hand disappears.
Chimney alone in gloom. Glimmer of brass bedrail. Fade. Birth the death
of him. That nevoid smile. Thirty thousand nights. Stands at edge of
lamplight staring beyond. Into dark whole again. Window gone. Hands
gone. Light gone. Gone. Again and again. Again and again gone. Till
dark slowly parts again. Grey light. Rain pelting. Umbrellas round a
grave. Seen from above. Streaming black canopies. Black ditch beneath.
Rain bubbling in the black mud. Empty for the moment. That place
beneath. Which ... he all but said which loved one? Thirty seconds. To
add to the two and a half billion odd. Then fade. Dark whole again.
Blest dark. No. No such thing as whole. Stands staring beyond half
hearing what he's saying. He? The words falling from his mouth. Making
do with his mouth. Lights lamp as described. Backs away to edge of
light and turns to face wall. Stares beyond into dark. Waits for first
word always the same. It gathers in his mouth. Parts lips and thrusts
tongue forward. Birth. Parts the dark. Slowly the window. That first
night. The room. The spill. The hands. The lamp. The gleam of brass.
Fade. Gone. Again and again. Again and again gone. Mouth agape. A cry.
Stifled by nasal. Dark parts. Grey light. Rain pelting. Streaming
umbrellas. Ditch. Bubbling black mud. Coffin out of frame. Whose? Fade.
Gone. Move on to other matters. Try to move on. To other matters. How
far from wall? Head almost touching. As at window. Eyes glued to pane
staring out. Nothing stirring. Black vast. Stands there stock still
staring out as if unable to move again. Or gone the will to move again.
Gone. Faint cry in his ear. Mouth agape. Closed with hiss of breath.
Lips joined. Feel soft touch of lip on lip. Lip lipping lip. Then
parted by cry as before. Where is he now? Back at window staring out.
Eyes glued to pane. As if looking his last. Turns away at last and
gropes through faint unaccountable light to unseen lamp. White gown
moving through that gloom. Once white. Lights and moves to face wall as
described. Head almost touching. Stands there staring beyond waiting
for first word. It gathers in his mouth. Birth. Parts lips and thrusts
tongue between them. Tip of tongue. Feel soft touch of tongue on lips.
Of lips on tongue. Fade up in outer dark of window. Stare beyond
through rift in dark to other dark. Further dark. Sun long sunk behind
the larches. Nothing stirring. Nothing faintly stirring. Stock still
eyes glued to pane. As if looking his last. At that first night. Of
thirty thousand odd. Turn away in the end to darkened room. Where soon
to be. This night to be. Spill. Hands. Lamp. Gleam of brass. Pale globe
alone in gloom. Brass bedrail catching light. Thirty seconds. To swell
the two and a half billion odd. Fade. Gone. Cry. Snuffed with breath of
nostrils. Again and again. Again and again gone. Till whose grave?
Which ... he all but said which loved one's? He? Black ditch in pelting
rain. Way out through the grey rift in dark. Seen from on high.
Streaming canopies. Bubbling black mud. Coffin on its way. Loved one
... he all but said loved one on his way. Her way. Thirty seconds.
Fade. Gone. Stands there staring beyond. Into dark whole again. No. No
such thing as whole. Head almost touching wall. White hair catching
light. White gown. White socks. White foot of pallet edge of frame
stage left. Once white. Least ... give and head rests on wall. But no.
Stock still head haught staring beyond. Nothing stirring. Faintly
stirring. Thirty thousand nights of ghosts beyond. Beyond that black
beyond. Ghost light. Ghost nights. Ghost rooms. Ghost graves. Ghost ...
he all but said ghost loved ones. Waiting on the rip word. Stands there
staring beyond at that black veil lips quivering to half-heard words.
Treating of other matters. Trying to treat of other matters. Till half
hears there are no other matters. Never were other matters. Never two
matters. Never but the one matter. The dead and gone. The dying and the
going. From the word go. The word begone. Where else? Unnoticed by him
staring beyond. The globe alone. Not the other. The unaccountable. From
nowhere. On all sides nowhere. Unutterably faint. The globe alone.