Krapp's Last Tape

(Samuel Beckett, *April 13, 1906 - †Dec. 22, 1989)


Just been listening to that stupid bastard I took myself for thirty years ago, hard to believe I was ever as bad as that. Thank God that's all done away with anyway. ( Pause. ) The eyes she had! ( Broods, realizes he is recording silence, switches off, broods. Finally.) Everything there, everything, all the-( Realizes this is not being recorded, switches on.) Everything there, everything on this old muckball, all the light and dark and famine and feasting of...( Hesitates.)... the ages! ( In a shout. ) Yes! ( Pause.) Let that go! Jesus! Take his mind off his homework! Jesus! ( Pause. Weary.) Ah well, maybe he was right. ( Broods. Realizes. Switches off. Consults envelope. ) Pah! ( Crumples it and throws it away. Broods. Switches on. ) Nothing to say, not a squeak. What's a year now? The sour cud and the iron stoool. ( Pause. ) Revelled in the word spool. ( With relish. ) Spooool! Happiest moment of the past half million. ( Pause. ) Seventeen copies sold, of which eleven at trade price to free circulating libraries beyond the seas. Getting known. ( Pause. ) One pound six and something, eight I have little doubt. ( Pause. ) Crawled out once or twice, before the summer was cold. Sat shivering in the park, drowned in dreams and burning to be gone. Not a soul. ( Pause. ) Last fancies. (Vehemently.) Keep 'em under! ( Pause. ) Scalded the eyes out of me reading Effie again, a page a day, with tears again. Effie...( Pause. ) Could have been happy with her, up there on the Baltic, and the pines, and the dunes. ( Pause. ) Could I? ( Pause. ) And she? ( Pause. ) Pah! ( Pause. ) Fanny came in a couple of times. Bony old ghost of a whore. Couldn't do much, but I suppose better than a kick in the crutch. The last time wasn't so bad. How do you manage it, she said, at your age? I told her I'd been saving up for her all my life. ( Pause. ) Went to Vespers once, like when I was in short trousers. ( Pause. Sings. )

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh-igh,
Shadows- (coughing, then almost
)-of the evening
Steal across the sky.

( Gasping. ) Went to sleep and fell off the pew. ( Pause. ) Sometimes wondered in the night if a last effort mightn't-( Pause. ) Ah finish your booze now and get to your bed. Go on with this drivel in the morning. Or leave it at that. ( Pause. ) Leave it at that ( Pause. ) Lie propped up in the dark-and wander. Be again in a dingle on Christmas Eve, gathering holly, the red-berried. ( Pause. ) Be again on Croghan on a Sunday morning, in the haze, with the bitch, stop and listen to the bells. ( Pause. ) And so on. ( Pause. ) Be again, be again. ( Pause. ) All that old misery. ( Pause. ) Once wasn't enough for you. ( Pause. ) Lie down across her.

Long pause. He suddenly bends over machine, switches off, wrenches off tape, throws it away, puts on the other, winds it forward to the passage he wants, switches on, listens staring front.


-gooseberries, she said. I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going on, and she agreed, without opening her eyes. ( Pause. ) I asked her to look at me and after a few moments-( Pause. )-after a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent over her to get them in shadow and they opened. ( Pause. Low. ) Let me in. ( Pause. ) We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.

Pause. Krapp's lips move. No sound.

Past midnight. Never knew such silence. The earth might be inhabited.


Here I end this reel. Box-( Pause. )-three, spool-( Pause. )-five. ( Pause. ) Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of hapiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back.

Krapp motionless staring before him. The tape runs on in silence.