cover image The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett

The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett

Edited by Seán Lawlor and John Pilling. Grove, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2308

Beckett, known for his novels and plays, also sporadically wrote short poems, in French and in English, and translated French and Spanish-language poems. His verse of the 1930s echoes the stern, dry sensibility of his great plays: “the churn of stale words in the heart again/ love love love thud of the old plunger/ pestling the unalterable/ why of words.” Translations can echo Beckett’s concerns, but not his style: “What darkness in my conscience and what dread/ and what a nausea of self-disgust!” explains his version of Manuel Jose Othon. Later work encompasses compact stanzas (all from 1976–1980) that Beckett called “mirlitonnades” (roughly, “trashlets”), mostly in French, though the English group includes the amazing “ceiling”: “lid eye bid/ bye bye.” Beckett’s sound play became as dense as his sadness, with the characteristic voice of a life very near its end: “steps sole sound/ long sole sound/ on all that strand/ at end of day.” This edition, compared to previous collections, includes ample annotation and offers a greater range of the verse that Beckett did not collect, or publish, during his life. [em]Agent: Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Nov.) [/em]