Breath, and Other Shorts

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Breath, and Other Shorts Page 3

by Samuel Beckett

  and coming home, there is a remarkable thing I find. So

  up then in the grey of dawn, very weak and shaky after an

  atrocious night little dreaming what lay in store, out and

  off. What time of year, l really do not know, does it matter.

  Not wet really, but dripping, everything dripping, the day

  might rise, did it, no, drip drip all day long, no sun, no

  change of light, dim all day, and still, not a breath, till

  night, then black, and a little wind, I saw some stars, as I

  neared home. My stick of course, by a merciful providence,


  I shall not say this again, when not mentioned my stick is

  in my hand, as I go along. But not my long coat, just my

  jacket, I could never bear the long coat, flapping about my

  legs, or rather one day suddenly I turned against it, a

  sudden violent dislike. Often when dressed to go I would

  take it out and put it on, then stand in the middle of the

  room unable to move, until at last I could take it off and

  put it back on its hanger, in the cupboard. But I was hardly

  down the stairs and out into the air when the stick fell

  from my hand and I just sank to my knees to the ground

  and then forward on my face, a most extraordinary thing,

  and then after a little over on my back, I could never lie

  on my face for any length of time, much as I loved it, it

  made me feel sick, and lay there, half an hour perhaps,

  with my arms along my sides and the palms of my hands

  against the pebbles and my eyes wide open straying over

  the sky. Now was this my first experience of this kind, that

  is the question that immediately assails one. Falls I had

  had in plenty, of the kind after which unless a limb broken

  you pick yourself up and go on, cursing God and man,

  very different from this. With so much life gone from

  knowledge how know when all began, all the variants of

  the one that one by one their venom staling follow upon one

  another, all life long, till you succumb. So in some way even

  olden things each time are first things, no two breaths the

  same, all a going over and over and all once and never

  more. But let me get up now and on and get this awful day

  over and on to the next. But what is the sense of going on

  with all this, there is none. Day after unremembered day

  until my mother's death, then in a new place soon old until

  my own. And when I come to this night here among the

  rocks with my two books and the strong starlight it will

  have passed from me and the day that went before, my

  two books, the little and the big, all past and gone, or perhaps just moments here and there still, this little sound 46

  perhaps now that I don't understand so that I gather up

  my things and go back into my hole, so bygone they can be

  told. Over, over, there is a soft place in my heart for all

  that is over, no, for the being over, I love the word, words

  have been my only loves, not many. Often all day long as

  I went along I have said it, and sometimes I would be

  saying vero, oh vero. Oh but for those awful fidgets I have

  always had I would have lived my life in a big empty

  echoing room with a big old pendulum clock, just listening

  and dozing, the case open so that I could watch the swinging,

  moving my eyes to and fro, and the lead weights dangling

  lower and lower till I got up out of my chair and wound

  them up again, once a week. The third day was the look I

  got from the roadman, suddenly I see that now, the ragged

  old brute bent double down in the ditch leaning on his

  spade or whatever it was and leering round and up at me

  from under the brim of his slouch, the red mouth, how is it

  I wonder I s�w him at all, that is more like it, the day I

  saw the look I got from Balfe, I went in terror of him as a

  child. Now he is dead and I resemble him. But let us get

  on and leave these old scenes and come to these, and my

  reward. Then it will not be as now, day after day, out, on,

  round, back, in, like leaves turning, or torn out and thrown

  crumpled away, but a long unbroken time without before

  or after, light or dark, from or towards or at, the old half

  knowledge of when and where gone, and of what, but kinds

  of things still, all at once, all going, until nothing, there

  was never anything, never can be, life and death all nothing,

  that kind of thing, only a voice dreaming and droning on

  all around, that is something, the voice that once was in

  your mouth. Well once out on the road and free of the

  property what then, I really do not know, the next thing

  I was up in the bracken lashing about with my stick making

  the drops fly and cursing, filthy language, the same words

  over and over, I hope nobody heard me. Throat very bad,


  to swallow was torment, and something wrong with an ear,

  I kept poking at it without relief, old wax perhaps pressing

  on the drum. Extraordinary still over the land, and in me

  too all quite still, a coincidence, why the curses were pouring

  out of me I do not know, no, that is a foolish thing to say,

  and the lashing about with the stick, what possessed me

  mild and weak to be doing that, as I struggled along. Is

  it the stoats now, no, first I just sink down again and disappear in the ferns, up to my waist they were as I went along. Harsh things these great ferns, like starched, very

  woody, terrible stalks, take the skin off your legs through

  your trousers, and then the holes they hide, break your leg

  if you're not careful, awful English this, fall and vanish from

  view, you could lie there for weeks and no one hear you,

  I often thought of that up in the mountains, no, that is a

  foolish thing to say, just went on, my body doing its best

  without me.


  Document Outline


  Title Page


  Production History




  Come and Go: A Dramaticule

  Act Without Words I: A Mime for One Player

  Act Without Words II: A Mime for Two Players

  From an Abandoned Work




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