Absurdist Plays and Claims to Fame

I actually wrote this piece several years ago during my first year of university. For some reason I side-lined it for a rainy day, even though it always brought a smile to my face the few times I stumbled across it afterwards. Now I’ve finished uni, a new sense of nostalgia has joined the happiness I feel when reading this piece, together with the need to preserve the memory. Aside from a little necessary doctoring (it’s amazing how much one’s writing can develop in a few short years) this story remains the same as the day it was created.

***

A short while ago, as part of one my modules at university, I was asked to read the play ‘Waiting for Godot’, written by Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. After flicking through the bible-thin pages of my literature anthology, I found the play in question and began to read with that all too familiar excited sensation of beginning a new book. Within minutes however, that feeling – a feeling I would soon accept as the norm – was crushed.

The play was insane. Insane, ridiculous nonsense which would crush anybody’s spirits with its convoluted, pointless dialogue and dismal setting. Having said that though, it fitted perfectly into its namesake genre: ‘Absurdist’. It was a play that meant nothing, where the characters talked with speech which amounted to nothing. After slogging my way through Act 1, my brain couldn’t take any more of the gobbledegook, and I had to go cook some ‘brain food’ (fish fingers). Afterwards, lo and behold, I had a brainwave! Instead of reading the play, I could watch it, by the aid of the wonderful invention of YouTube. Once again I settled down and, strangely, just ten minutes later I found myself laughing at the performance on the screen. It’s amazing how words on paper come alive through performance. I’ve never been much of a dramatic, but sometimes for the magic to happen you really do have to see it with your own eyes.

Anyway, the next day my friends appeared to have discovered the same thing as me, and we returned to our Poetry and Drama class with renewed hope for ‘Waiting for Godot’. We soon began to understand in more depth why exactly this was classed as an ‘Absurdist’ play. Of course, then came the questioning of the author. Why would Samuel Beckett choose to write a play like this; a play that supposedly makes no sense no matter how deeply you look into the so-called plot? What were his influences? Was he insane, or just the subject of an era of hard times? The usual answers of course – religion, politics, and feminism. I won’t enter into a debate of exploring the intricate mind of Mr. Beckett now, but rather I will skip ahead a few days to when I visited home, and told my family about this ‘Absurd’ experience.

I happened to mention the play when I was home one weekend, and at once my mum’s ears seemed to prick up. Like Samuel Beckett she is Irish through and through and, given the pint-sized population of Ireland, that means that one way or another everybody in the Republic of Ireland knows each other. Saying that, there are now approximately four million people living there, but still, I should have guessed what was coming… “Samuel Beckett was related to my mother.”

Surprise didn’t quite cover my reaction. Although, simultaneous to my surprise swept into my mind the widely-used phrase among my Irish relatives, ‘Ireland is a village’ which rapidly turned the situation into something entirely possible. I am technically (and by technically I mean my great aunt’s something’s something, so I have approximately one percent Beckett blood) related to Samuel Beckett, the renowned novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. Not a bad claim to fame I reckon. Plus, as I mentioned to my friend in the next poetry lecture, it probably explains why my imagination is slightly questionable at times!

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Hope you enjoyed reading this blast from the past as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

The universe was hers to hold, little did she know…

The universe was hers to hold, little did she know

Hers to mould and shape

The world would reform at her command

Reform, or crack and break

But she lost it to another, whose hand was mightier still

And he threw the earth to ruin

And spat on the lands until

 

She returned with a force

So powerful and bright

And called it the sun

And the moon at night

To guard the world from all peril

Demons and shadows borne from the devil

 

And the mighty one hid between the cracks

In the lava and smoke above land

But there he was spied, too late to hide

And was banished by her towering hand

 

To a place of hate and sorrow

A place of trickery and blight

Until the day of reckoning

The day he saw the light

When she flew to him from the ashes

Of a war he had wreaked one night

 

She grasped his steely hand

And flew low under skies of red

Soaring over trees and mountaintops

Littered with bodies of the dead

 

This is your doing, this is your world

To the heavens she roared

To the seas she hurled

Words of anger, words to scare

Words to force thought, words to make him care

 

But care he could not, for his heart was stone

And so she saw, he could not be alone

So placing him down on the edge of the land

Staring into the abyss, she took his hand

 

A life like no other, a life like this…

She gestured her arm away

To a land touched by the devil’s kiss

This was your vision, this was your dream

To rule from the skies, to command unseen

But you failed to deliver

Failed to commit

And thus your world is destroyed, and you with it

 

Here now we stand, together but apart

In the hopes of recovery, and a new start

Of building a legacy from an era of pain

But it can be done, as before when I came

And created the sun, the moon and the stars

To watch over earth, and heal its scars

 

Together we can rule, together we can fly

Together we can create and love, you and I

Harmony is all I ask

So, will you accept this task?

 

Know that I am patient, know that I am strong

Know that I will never give up, and that I am never wrong

For I am the goddess of wonder and starlight, of light and majesty and peace

I am the one who guides this world, and all the universe apiece

 

My eye sees beyond this world to the next, and everything within

It sees the war and destruction, and everything akin

It sees you amongst people, walking and building homes

It sees you loving and pleasing, smiling and writing tomes

For you will lead again, my friend

You will shine and dance

Because I can transform you to brilliance

If you would only give me a chance

 

Say yes to me now and the world is saved

Say no and it is doomed

Give me your word and your heart my friend, and the way forward is paved

For I am the goddess of twilight, the goddess of dawn and dew

And I pledge to help, my friend, to remove the darkness from you

 

Slowly he faced her, red eyes gleaming in the dark

A single tear rolled down a blackened cheek

The whispering groan of a breaking heart

The choice has been made, he growled, offering his lethal claw

Do with me what you will, I have a care no more

 

She held his hand gently, like a damaged and fragile thing

And bowing her head low, softly began to sing

The darkness vanished, replaced with dazzling light

The hand was clear, unmarked of any plight

Stand tall my friend, for you are anew

You have changed your ways, you will live as true

 

Tall and proud, there stood he

Made for goodness, made to be free

For the evil was banished, gone, destroyed

Leaving only a shell, a puppet to be toyed

And she took his hand and whispered a word

Then guided him away, to a place unheard

To live once more, in a land of love

In a land of starlight and wonder

Cast down from the universe above

Apocalyptic Love

He held her until the end, and she held him until the new beginning

Eyes shut to the darkening embers of a dead world, they waited

The waves dashed their bare feet, rolled over their ankles, thrashed against their knees

The wind rocked them back and forth, like dolls strung up by a transcendental puppeteer

The sky growled its warnings, deep and rolling, making the ground shudder to its core

But this was nothing

They felt nothing

There was nothing

 

Their feet were dry, their hands were locked, their heads were bowed

Nothing could break them

Not the crashing waves

Not the roiling winds

Not the great chasms zigzagging across the earth

 

Not the sudden streak of sunrise, slicing the raging sky in two

Not the blinding clash of golden rays on silver water

Not the great, relinquishing sigh of the dying wind

For still they stood, brow to brow, hand in hand

Waiting for the new beginning of a new world

Poetry in Disguise

I am not a poet. I write stories – short, long, fragmented – simple pieces of stand alone text. I would even go so far as to say I almost dislike poetry. Almost, but not quite. There is a part of me that wishes to understand poetry with the same fervor and complex appreciation as other writers. I have tried, yet the meaning still alludes me. There are some poems I do enjoy, those that possess a simple layer of meaning before giving themselves up to the riddles of their creators. I have no particular genre preference, rather, I occasionally  happen across a poem and think ‘I get that. I can regard that to a level worthy of the subject matter in question.’

I studied literature at university for four years and, after several valiant attempts to understand a cacophony of poets from Byron and Wordsworth to Eliot and Tennyson, my relationship with poetry has settled into a mutual acknowledgement that the other exists only to be observed and credited from a distance. Of course, what naturally follows from the inability to read poetry, comes the frustrating difficulty to write this rhythmic literature. If I can’t read/understand poetry, I sure as hell can’t write it, can I? Very very rarely have I written a poem, other than ones required during my academic studies. I have to come to the conclusion that I just don’t write it, and couldn’t if I tried. However, over the past weeks (basically since beginning this blog) it has come to my attention that this fact may not be as accurate as imagined.

If you have read any of my other recent pieces, it might appear obvious that there is poetry lurking not so inconspicuously within the realms of The Fairytale Traveller. Only last week I wrote a piece called ‘I Found Him’, which is most definitely a poem, but bizarrely I didn’t realise until the piece was up on WordPress. I had written it as one short block in a word document, thinking it a simple stand alone piece, not really meant for a full story or anything else. It baffles me now, having added more of these short blocks of text from my computer to WordPress, that only once uploaded in a new format have I recognised that these pieces are in fact poetry! Ultimate facepalm. WordPress has given these pieces a new lease of life, taking them from dusty files in the depths of my computer memory and throwing them out to the world in an entirely new style. When writing these pieces, it simply had not occurred to me that I could or should write them in a different style to blocks of text. I genuinely have no idea why… I amaze myself sometimes.

It seems poetry is not as out of my depth as I thought. I think I will still enjoy stories more, but it heartening to know that I could write a poem if I had the inclination. Or perhaps the only times I will write poetry is when I don’t realise I am? Either way, I am glad about one thing, which is that those little, random blocks of text were never simply abandoned or downright bad stories. Instead they were pieces of poetry, waiting like tiny, priceless gems to be discovered and freed by someone who actually knew what they were looking for. It appears I must learn to open my eyes more, to see what actually lies on the paper in front of me!

I found him one day…

I found him one day

Scared out of his wits and ready to give up

The facade was strong, people almost believed he was okay

But I saw through him

He was a shell made out of aluminium

A shell made out of diamond

A shell made out of fire

No one could touch him

No one could break him

They didn’t know

                      he was

                                 already

b  r

o    k

   e  n

The Wish

Once upon a time there was a girl who wished she lived in a fairytale. All day every day she read books about warriors and heroes, evil queens and princesses and, like most of those princesses, she wished with all her heart for a prince. Every night before sleep she sat by her window and made a wish on a passing star. She chose a different one each night, after all, she reasoned, one of them must work. The wish went like this…

O Star, shining ever so bright

I pray that you listen to me tonight

Grant me the goodness of thy heart

And help me to find one who art

Funny, intelligent, kind and strong

And tell me O Star, if I am wrong

When I ask for true love, and he answers me

Pray give me thy insight to return to thee

Afore declaring any such love

I shall seek thy in the heavens above

And say O Star, is this right for me?

And I hope that you will glitter and shine and dance

And tell me ‘O Child, do not miss your chance!

For true love indeed is hard to find

But please my dear, pay this a mind

Look not to the stars, but to your heart

Listen no to the skies, for you must start

To trust in yourself, find the answers within

And answer once and for all, could it be him?’

Signature Scar

A tiny, white, vulnerable, line of skin.

So slightly different from the rest, it seems insignificant.

But it holds a memory; a mixed memory.

When my left big toe is bare, that memory returns.

Ireland. The Shannon. The Boat.

Surrounded by family. We could see the riverbed if we leaned far enough over the smooth edge.

We trailed our fingers behind us through the water, making our own currents. Tiny fins cutting the blue, making ripples.

We were ready. Wetsuits. Goggles. Flippers. Wait. No flippers.

The middle of the lake beckoned us.

The key turned in the ignition and we were still.

 

We rose, turned to enter the cool water.

One, two, three, then my turn.

I leapt.

Landed.

My senses reacted.

I struck out.

Ducked my head under.

Dived.

Kicked.

Pure, blue, clear, bliss.

 

I climbed out glistening, shivering, numb.

I looked down.

Red.

Confusion.

My toe was cut, blood coursing.

It was cleaned, sterilised. Only then did we see the line.

Reddy-pink now. Not white yet.

A tiny, almost missable mark.

Signature mark.

Souvenir.

The Shannon has a rocky bed.

I wasn’t the only one.

We all have a signature mark somewhere.

A signature scar.