â€œAn Image from a Past Lifeâ€:
Beckettâ€™s Yeatsian Turn
By Marjorie Perloff
Published in Fulcrum, No. 6, 2007
–Reciting from Yeatsâ€™s â€œFriends,â€ in coming to the lines
While up from my heartâ€™s root
So great a sweetness flows
I shake from head to foot,
Sam would stand up and repeat them, saying â€œImagine such feelingâ€”â€œSo great a sweetness flows / I shake from head to footâ€– in
–Anne Atik, How It Was: A Memoir of Samuel Beckett 
The powerful imprint of Yeatsâ€™s poetry on Beckettâ€™s writing has generally been underestimated, largely, no doubt, because Beckett himself, in his younger days, could be quite sarcastic about what he took to be Yeatsian postures and mannerisms, making clear that the Yeats he did genuinely admire was not the famous poet but his younger brother, the painter Jack B. Yeats.  But as Anne Atik recalls in her absorbing memoir, â€œFrom 1959 on, especially when we were dining at home, Yeats was as often on the menu as Samuel Johnson and Danteâ€ (60). Beckett knew dozens of Yeats poems by heart and recited them, Atik notes, in praise of their sonorities, as in his stressing of the mâ€™s in the last stanza of â€œSailing to Byzantium: â€œ. . .such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make / â€œOf hammered gold and gold enamelling / To keep a drowsy Emperor awakeâ€ (Atik 60).
But it was not just a matter of the younger poetâ€™s admiration for his elderâ€™s superb ear. A more profoundâ€”and surprising– link between the two has to do with romantic love: Beckett came, in his later work, to have a special affinity for the Yeatsian obsession with what his long poem â€œThe Towerâ€ calls a â€œwoman lostâ€â€”lost because of the poetâ€™s own failure to make the necessary commitment. Beckett was hardly a Yeatsian â€œlast Romanticâ€–indeed, he could confront the notion of passion only obliquely and parodicallyâ€”but it was Yeats who, so to speak, gave Beckett the permission to explore the aporias, not of sexual failure as such, but of the failure to follow oneâ€™s inclinations which animates such key Beckett plays as Krappâ€™s Last Tape, Words and Music, and the late television piece . . . but the clouds. . . , whose title is taken directly from Part III of â€œThe Tower.â€ 
â€œSo great a sweetness flows / I shake from head to footâ€â€”Beckett, Atik notes in the passage I cite above, reacted to these lines from Yeatsâ€™s â€œFriendsâ€ with â€œamazement.â€ Why? The noun â€œsweetness,â€ on the face of it, is not only vague but a bit cloyingâ€”a throw-back, perhaps to the Yellow Nineties rhetoric of Yeatsâ€™s Wind Among the Reeds and The Shadowy Waters. But Yeatsian â€œsweetness,â€ as Beckett understood, had its own edge, perhaps best seen in the concluding stanza of â€œA Dialogue of Self and Soulâ€:
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest. 
This conclusion follows hard upon the poetâ€™s assertion that he is â€œcontent to live it all again,â€ even if it means reliving the suffering that results from having â€œwoo[ed] / A proud woman not kindred of his soul.â€ But Yeats did not arrive at this position easily: when, in his sixtieth year, he composed â€œThe Tower,â€ the memory of his great failed love affair with Maud Gonne was still too painful to confront.
Yeatsâ€™s lyric meditation begins with the agonized question, â€œWhat shall I do with this absurdityâ€”O heart, O troubled heartâ€”this caricature / Decrepit age that has been tied to me / As to a dogâ€™s tail?â€ (409). Although the poetâ€™s sexual energy, his â€œExcited, passionate, fantastical / Imaginationâ€ have never been more powerful, passion, it would seem, is now inappropriate for him: it is time to â€œbe content with argument and bid the Muse go pack,â€ to â€œdeal / in abstract things.â€ But â€œThe Towerâ€ is by no means a conventional complaint against old age, a sentimental evocation of lost happiness. Rather, Yeatsâ€™s argument, here and elsewhere in the later poems and plays, is that the pain of old age is not a matter of illness or physical infirmity, but a form of frustration experienced by those who refused passion in their youth. Thus the roll-call of characters in Part IIâ€”those eccentrics destroyed by a surfeit of imagination, like the drunken admirers of Mary Hynes in the song of the blind poet Raftery–culminates in the evocation of the poetâ€™s own poetic creation and alter ego, Red Hanrahan, the â€œold lecher with a love on every wind,â€ who understands the mysteries of sexual love:
. . . it is certain that you have
Reckoned up every unforeknown, unseeing
Plunge, lured by a softening eye,
Or by a touch or a sigh,
Into the labyrinth of anotherâ€™s being. (Yeats 413)
It is at this point (line 113) that Yeats poses the crucial question that later came to haunt Beckett:
Does the imagination dwell the most
Upon a woman won or woman lost?
If on the lost, admit you turned aside
From a great labyrinth out of pride,
Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought
Or anything called conscience once;
And that if memory recur, the sunâ€™s
Under eclipse and the day blotted out. (413-14)
Labyrinth is the key word here: whereas Hanrahan, Yeatsâ€™s idealized image of himself, is presented as able to â€œPlunge, lured by a softening eye . . . Into the labyrinth of anotherâ€™s being,â€ the poet himself was one who â€œturned asideâ€ from that labyrinth, evidently â€œout of pride, /Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought / Or anything called conscience once.â€ Yet now, as he paces on the â€œbattlements,â€ the memory of his beloved recurs, putting the sun â€œUnder eclipse.â€ In the cosmology of A Vision, written shortly before â€œThe Tower,â€ the reference is to the antithetical moonlight of Phase 15, the non-human phase of Unity of Being, which has momentarily triumphed. The full moon signals the eclipse of the sun (Phase 1), In memory, the poet can relive his passion.
Despite its obliquities, Yeatsâ€™s stanza is rooted in his actual situation. The love affair (mostly Platonic) with Maud Gonne, an affair that lasted from the mid-nineties through Maudâ€™s two unhappy marriages, to his own precipitous marriage to Georgie Hyde-Lees in 1917 (and emotionally well beyond that date), was not only subject to recurrent failure, but a failure that Yeats took to be his own, even though it was Maud who repeatedly turned him down.  The most powerful account of this self-accusation comes in â€œThe Cold Heavenâ€: 
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! When the ghost begins to quicken
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment? (Yeats 316)
The only way out, Yeats knew, was to forgive himself for his own â€œprideâ€ and â€œcowardice.â€ He came to see that, as he put it in a note to â€œAn Image from a Past Lifeâ€ (1920), â€œSouls that are linked by emotion never cease till the last drop of their emotion is exhausted. . . .Those whose past passions are unatoned seldom love living man or woman but those loved long agoâ€ (Yeats 822-23). Hence the drive to â€œcast out remorseâ€ that is the theme of â€œA Dialogue of Self and Soul,â€ â€œDemon and Beast,â€ and so many other later poems. And hence the turn in â€œThe Towerâ€ to the assertive cry of Part III, with its insistence that â€œDeath and life were not / Till man made up the whole, / Made lock, stock and barrel / Out of his bitter soul.â€  Here is the astonishingly upbeat conclusionâ€”a conclusion Beckett, so Anne Atik recalls (68-69), recited so admiringly:
Now shall I make my soul,
Compelling it to study
In a learned school
Till the wreck of body,
Slow decay of blood,
Or dull decrepitude,
Or what worse evil comeâ€”
The death of friends, or death
Of every brilliant eye
That made a catch in the breathâ€”
Seem but the clouds of the sky
When the horizon fades,
Or a birdâ€™s sleepy cry
Among the deepening shades. (416)
In the conclusion of â€œThe Tower,â€ deathâ€”that of others as well as oneâ€™s ownâ€”can thus be met with defiance. But what about Beckett? The title â€¦but the cloudsâ€¦, removed from its context in the lines above, takes on an ambiguous resonance. For one thing, the â€œbutâ€ in Yeatsâ€™s line means â€œonlyâ€: death, that is to say, is no more substantial and permanent than the clouds in the sky. Beckettâ€™s â€œbut,â€ on the other hand, sounds like a disclaimer. Yes, his words seem to say, itâ€™s all very well to accept the reality of death. But the clouds. . . .
Those Unseeing Eyes
The particular tonality of . . .but the clouds. . . can be traced back to the famous scene in Krappâ€™s Last Tape (1958), when the taped voice of the monologuistâ€™s former self recalls a decisive love scene of his youth:
–upper lake, with the punt, bathed off the bank, then pushed out into the stream and drifted. She lay stretched out on the floorboards with her hands under her head and her eyes closed. Sun blazing down, bit of a breeze, water nice and lively. I noticed a scratch on her thigh and asked her how she came by it. Picking 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 momentsâ€”[pause]â€”after a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent over her to get them in the shadow and they opened. [Pause, Low.] Let me in. [Pause] We drifted in among the flags and stuck. The way they went down, sighing, before the stern! [Pause.] I lay 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. 
Krapp has already listened to those last two sentences of the monologue and abruptly cut them off. And the gist of the story, beginning with the word â€œgooseberries,â€ will be replayed after further interruption by the narrator at the end of the play. It is, evidently, the scene of the crime to which the 69-year old Krapp returns obsessively to understand why his youthful â€œchance of happinessâ€ never materialized.
What makes this passage so painful is its representation of young Krapp-Beckett as having taken the initiative. It is he who declares to the girl that their love is â€œhopeless,â€ a judgment to which she passively assents â€œwithout opening her eyes.â€ Then he demands a responseâ€”â€œI asked her to look at meâ€â€”but her eyes looking into the sun are â€œjust slits.â€ Exasperated, the lover so to speak forces â€œentryâ€™â€: â€œI bent over to get [her eyes] in the shadow and they opened. . . . Let me in.â€ As in â€œThe Tower,â€ the â€œsunâ€™s under eclipse,â€ but here there is no antithetical moonlight, only the movement of the punt rocking the silent lovers.
â€œThose whose past passions are unatoned,â€ wrote Yeats, â€œseldom love living man or woman but those loved long ago.â€ It is such unatoned passion, the refusal to â€œplunge into the labyrinth of anotherâ€™s being,â€ that haunts Krapp as well as his creator. In playing back the â€œspoolsâ€ recorded during the past thirty years, the love sceneâ€”indeed any love sceneâ€”cannot recur. Only its memory recursâ€”over and over again: in Yeatsian terms, the ghost is sent out naked on the roads . . . and stricken / By the injustice of the skies for punishment.â€ And thus the clouds, far from dissolving in the night sky, darken.
In the later plays, the failure to love (and hence be loved) becomes a major chord, repeatedly involving parodic variations on elegiac motifs in earlier poetry, especially Yeatsâ€™s. The radio play Words and Music (1962) is an interesting example. In this enigmatic verbal/musical composition,  Croakâ€™s first words, having invoked his â€œservantsâ€ Joe (Words) and Bob (Music) to â€œbe friends!â€ are â€œI am late, forgive,â€ followed after a pause by the abrupt invocation, â€œThe face,â€ followed by another pause and then â€œOn the stairs.â€ And, a moment later, â€œIn the towerâ€(334). Croak commands Words to extemporize on â€œlove,â€ and the latter, who has already spoken his set piece, which sarcastically substitutes â€œslothâ€ for love,â€ launches into his absurd â€œLove is of all passions the most powerfulâ€ speech. But it is only when he mentions â€œLove of womanâ€ that Croak becomes agitated: he soon interrupts both Wordsâ€™s absurdities (â€œIs love the word?. . . . Is soul the word? Do we mean love, when we say love? . . . Soul, when we say soul?â€) and Musicâ€™s loud chords, to introduce a second set theme, â€œAge.â€ In response, Words, echoed by Music, tries to sing or at least intone the poem we hear, first one line at a time, and then, with Music taking the lead, as a wholeâ€”an unrhymed fourteen-line lyric written in Yeatsian trimeters:
Age is when to a man
Huddled oâ€™er the ingle
Shivering for the hag
To put the pan in the bed
And bring the toddy
She comes in the ashes
Who loved could not be won
Or won not loved
Or some other trouble
Comes in the ashes
Like in that old light
The face in the ashes
That old starlight
On the earth again. (337)
The language of this song is designedly equivocal, shifting as it does from â€œpoeticâ€ diction (â€œAge is but to a man / Huddled oâ€™er the ingleâ€) to matter-of-fact description (â€œTo put the pan in the bed / and bring the toddyâ€). This tonal shift sets the stage for Beckettâ€™s ironic deflation of Yeatsâ€™s â€œwoman lostâ€ motif: â€œShe comes in the ashes / Who loved could not be won / Or won not loved / Or some other trouble.â€ Wordsâ€™s lyric seems to be mocking Croakâ€™s obsession, for he goes on to refer to â€œThe face in the ashes / That old starlight / On the earth again.â€ Starlight, to refer back to Yeats, signifies the dark of the moon and hence absence. The cue is too much for Croak who now murmurs despairingly:
The face. [Pause.] The face. [Pause.] The face. [Pause.] The face.
Music makes a â€œsentimentalâ€ flourish, to which Croak can only respond by repeating the word yet again: â€œThe face.â€
The listener cannot know, of course, whose face it is that tortures Croak. Indeed, Words now jumps into the opening created by Croak, taunting the masterâ€™s â€œImage of a Past Lifeâ€:
–flare of the black disordered hair as though spread wide on water, the brows knitted in a groove suggesting pain but simple concentration more likely all things considered on some consummate inner process, the eyes of course closed in keeping with this, the lashes . . . [pause] . . . the nose . . . [pause] . . . nothing, a little pinched perhaps, the lips. . . (338)
These realistic details, far from puncturing the bubble of Croakâ€™s dream, ironically have the opposite effect: in an â€œanguishedâ€ cry, his voice intones the single word â€œLily,â€ evidently the name of the â€œwoman lost.â€ Having exposed his weakness, Croak is now prey to the torment inflicted by his own â€œwordsâ€ and â€œmusicâ€: he must listen to Musicâ€™s â€œirresistible burst of spreading and subsidingâ€ and Wordsâ€™s lewd reference to â€œthe great white rise and fall of the breasts, spreading as they mount and then subsiding to their natural . . . apertureâ€ (339).
It is too much for Croak: after the single cry â€œNo!â€ we never hear his voice again. Indeed, the idealism of the â€œTowerâ€ poet and, to an extent, of Krapp now gives way to the clinical appraisal offered by Words:
–the brows uncloud, the lips part and the eyes . . . [pause] . . . the brows uncloud the nostrils dilate, the lips part and the eyes . . . [reverently] . . . open. [Pause.] Then down a little way . . . [Pause. Change to poetic tone. Low].
Here the eyes that haunted Krapp, those slits he could not penetrate until his body blocked out the sun, are described as they would appear during the sex act, the lips parting, the nostrils dilating. And the song that follows, interrupted by Musicâ€™s variation and then sung all at once, turns Croakâ€™s orchestral commands inside out in a sequence of trimeters and dimeters that both echoes and yet burlesques Yeatsâ€™s â€œNow shall I make my soulâ€ passage:
Then down a little way
Through the trash
All dark no begging
No giving no words
No sense no need
Through the scum
Down a little way
To where one glimpse
Of that wellhead (340)
The sentence is left in suspension as if even â€œone glimpse / Of that wellheadâ€ is too overwhelming for all the parties concerned. â€œMy Lord,â€ Words cries out, evidently in response to Croakâ€™s collapse or withdrawal, and we hear the sound of a club falling and slippers shuffling away. Only Music can now fill the silence.
In â€œWords and Music,â€ the imagination continues to dwell on â€œa woman lost,â€ but, unlike Krapp, who plays Box 3, Spool 5 again and again, Croak cannot control his own wordsâ€ and â€œmusicâ€â€”Words and Music that only serve to underscore his most painful memoryâ€”â€œThe faceâ€ — submitting that memory to mercilessly vivid dissection. Indeed, the two lyric poems embedded in the dialogue are equivocal: on the one hand, they pay homage to the trimeters of Yeatsâ€™s â€œFriends,â€ â€œEaster 1916,â€ and â€œThe Tower, IIIâ€; on the other, they announce that Yeatsâ€™s epic imageâ€”a â€œwoman Homer sungâ€â€”has become, in the Beckettian universe of the late twentieth-century, a figure of mock-heroic proportions, no more than the subject of a contest between Words and Music, which the latter wins.
In the minimalist plays of the 1970s, even such repartee gives way to speech fragment and gesture. Thus, in the television play . . . but the clouds . . . , the protagonist M (man) is first viewed by the camera from behind â€œsitting on invisible stool bowed over invisible table,â€ in priestly â€œlight grey robe and skullcapâ€ (444). As the drama unfolds, M1 (the self of memory) is seen on screen, emerging from or retreating into his â€œsanctuaryâ€ (North) in robe and skullcap or crossing from East (left) to West (right) and back again, wearing â€œHat and dark greatcoatâ€ as if fated forever to walk the dark roads outside the circle of light, which is his domain.
The very first words we hear Voice (Mâ€™s voice) speak are â€œWhen I thought of her it was always night.â€ But here there is no â€œrealâ€ incident, like the idyll in the punt in Krappâ€™s Last Tape,â€ to be relived, nor are there allusions to sexual union as in Words and Music. All Voice can do is try to make the image of the nameless womanâ€”a woman he may or may not have once knownâ€”reappear. But what are the facts? â€œLet us now,â€ says Voice, after a series of dissolves in which M crosses and recrosses the set, either in hat and greatcoat, or in robe and skullcap, â€œdistinguish three cases. One: she appeared and . . . In the same breath was gone. . . . Two: she appeared and . . . lingered. . . . With those unseeing eyes I so begged when alive to look at me. . . .Three: she appeared and . . . After a moment,â€ voicelessly intoned the words â€œ. . . clouds . . . but the clouds . . . of the skyâ€ (447-48). Finally, â€œThere was of course a fourth case, or case nought, as I pleased to call it, by far the commonest,â€ when she did not appear at all and the protagonist, the voice rationalizes, was left â€œbus[ying himself]with something else, more . . . rewarding, such as . . . such as . . . cube roots, for example, or with nothingâ€ (448). After these words, there is only one more shot, a five-second shot at that, of the womanâ€™s face with its unseeing eyes, and she is gone, leaving Voice to recite, â€œ. . . but the clouds of the sky . . . when the horizon fades . . . or a birdâ€™s sleepy cry . . . among the deepening shades . . .â€ followed by dissolve, fade out, and darkness (449). The whole text, including stage directions and a geometric diagram of the set and camera angle, has less than six pages.
Does the imagination dwell the most / Upon a woman won or a woman lost? The concept of loss is not quite meaningful here because it is not clear that â€œthe faceâ€ (or rather, as Beckettâ€™s stage directions tell us, the reduction of face to eyes and mouth) was ever a reality. To understand Beckettâ€™s twist on the Yeatsian theme in this instance, we should noteâ€”and this is an aspect of the play that has been ignoredâ€”that Voiceâ€™s locutions are repeatedly marked by their Yeatsian phrasing. â€œFor had she never once appeared,â€ for example, echoes Yeatsâ€™s predilection for the negative subjunctive, as in â€œWordsâ€:
That had she done so who can say
What would have shaken from the sieve?
I might have thrown poor words away
And been content to live. (Yeats 256)
But Beckettâ€™s most telling verbal echo is found in Voiceâ€™s first speech, punctuated by images of M1 crossing the set: â€œI came in . . . came in . . . . Came in having walked the roads since break of dayâ€ (446), a fragment repeated with variations a second timeâ€”â€œUntil the time came, with break of day, to issue forth again, shed robe and skull, resume my hat and greatcoat, and issue forth again, to walk the roadsâ€ (447)–and finally, a third: â€œissue forth again, to walk the roads. The back roadsâ€ (449).
These passages evoke not only Yeatsâ€™s â€œThe Cold Heaven,â€ where the ghost is â€œsent/ Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken / By the injustice of the skies for punishment,â€ but also the 1920 poem â€œTowards Break of Dayâ€ (Yeats 398), which begins
Was it the double of my dream
The woman that by me lay
Dreamed or did we halve a dream
Under the first cold gleam of day?
This poem, from Michael Robartes and the Dancer, is one of a sequence of painful love poems, written shortly after Yeatsâ€™s marriage, in which the â€œIâ€ cannot escape â€œAn Image from a Past Life,â€ and the â€œwoman that by me layâ€ (evidently Yeatsâ€™s wife) knows it. In the third stanza of â€œTowards Break of Day,â€ the poet exclaims, â€œI grew wild; Even accusing Heaven because / It had set down among its law: / Nothing that we love over-much / Is ponderable to our touchâ€ (399). Meanwhile, â€œshe that beside me layâ€ (stanza 4) â€œwatched in bitterer sleep / The marvelous stag of Arthurâ€â€”the beautiful white stag of Arthurian legend that so fully distracted the king, he forgot his sweetheart.
In Yeatsâ€™s case, the malaise recorded in Michael Robartes and the Dancer gives way, in â€œThe Towerâ€ to the casting out of remorse and hence the ability to â€œdwellâ€ on the â€œwoman lostâ€ with less pain than pleasure. But in Beckettâ€™s version of â€œThe Towerâ€ this doesnâ€™t happen. The eyes in Krappâ€™s Last Tape that were mere slits blinded by the sun but opened long enough in the shadows to have the poet say â€œLet me in,â€ are now vacant. Even if the woman may have, briefly, â€œlingered,â€ it was â€œWith those unseeing eyes I so begged when alive to look at me.â€ But she never does look at him, never even speaks, although her mouth inaudibly forms the words â€œ . . . clouds . . . but the clouds of the sky.â€ Thus, Yeatsâ€™s clouds, far from dissolving so as to admit clear passage to the â€œtranslunar paradiseâ€ beyond, are here seen as just what they are, clouds that dissolve into a blank sky, a fitting counterpart to the â€œbirdâ€™s sleepy cry / Among the deepening shades.â€ Indeed, the movement on the screen is, in Wallace Stevensâ€™s words, â€œdownward to darkness on extended wings.â€
Yet if Beckett cannot share the will toward transcendence of this and related Yeats poems, why is he so taken with Yeatsâ€™s notion of sweetness, flowing â€œfrom my heartâ€™s rootâ€ (â€œFriendsâ€) or â€œinto the breastâ€ (â€œDialogue of Self and Soulâ€)â€”a sweetness so profound that, in Yeatsian terms, â€œEverything we look upon is blestâ€? My own hunch is that Beckett repeated such lines in â€œamazement,â€ because he saw in them a terrible poignancy lost on those who take Yeatsâ€™s declaration of his â€œfaithâ€ at face value. The key passage, in this regard, is one Beckett does not cite, the passage (lines 173-80) immediately preceding â€œNow shall I make my soulâ€:
I leave both faith and pride
To young upstanding men
Climbing the mountain-side,
That under bursting dawn
They may drop a fly;
Being of that metal made,
Till it was broken by
This sedentary trade. (Yeats 416)
We are to believe here, that Yeats was one of those lusty mountaineers or fishermen, those â€œprimary men,â€ in his scheme, whose physical prowess was â€œbrokenâ€ only by that â€œsedentary tradeâ€â€”writing poetry. â€œBeing of that metal madeâ€? The poseâ€”note the pun on â€œmettleâ€– is so grandiose that the reader canâ€™t help smiling at the extent of â€œIâ€s self-deception. As a rhetorical gesture, Beckett implies, it is remarkable. But even more remarkable, perhaps, is to take Yeatsâ€™s words, and cut them off from their overt source. â€œNow shall I make my soul?â€ Better to face the music, to begin with that â€œbutâ€ and see what the clouds are actually up to. And the irony is that â€œdeath,â€ in this case, is not the actual, physical death Yeatsâ€™s poems hold so threatening, but the death of the spirit that pervades everyday life. The love that is â€œunatonedâ€â€”in Beckettâ€™s case, perhaps for his cousin Peggy Sinclair, who died of tuberculosis when she was only twenty-two–haunts the poetâ€™s present, even as the daily round continuesâ€”walking the roads in dark hat and greatcoat, sitting by the fireside in robe and skullcap, waiting for those â€œunseeing eyesâ€ to give us a glance. â€œMake sense who may,â€ as Voice puts it in the late play What Where (504). But if not sense, then surely â€œmake poetryâ€ out of it. And that, in Beckettâ€™s answer to Yeatsâ€™s â€œheroic cry,â€ is also a way of casting out remorse.
 Anne Atik, How It Was: A Memoir of Samuel Beckett I (Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005), 62.
 For a good summary of Beckettâ€™s changing response to Yeats, see S. E. Gontarskiâ€™s entry on W. B. Yeats, in The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. C. J. Ackerley and S. E. Gontarski (New York: Grove, 2004), 657-58; and cf. the entry on Jack B. Yeats, 655-57.
See Atik, 68-69, 124; cf. The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. C. J. Ackerly and S. E. Gontarski (New York: Grove Press, 2004), 658.
 The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W. B. Yeats, ed. Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach (New York: Macmillan, 1957), p. 479. All further references to Yeatsâ€™s poetry are to this edition.
For a fuller treatment of the Yeats-Gonne quarrel, see Perloff, â€œBetween Hatred and Desire: Sexualtiy and Subterfuge in â€˜A Prayer for my Daughterâ€™,â€ iEssays in Memory of Richard Ellmann, ed. Ron Schuchard, in Yeats Annual 7, ed. Warwick Gould (London: Macmillan, 1990): 29-50.
 Itâ€™ s interesting to note that â€œThe Cold Heavenâ€ immediately follows â€œFriendsâ€ in Responsibilities (1914): in â€œFriends,â€ the poet, having praised the supportive role in his life of two other women (evidently Lady Gregory and Olivia Shakespear), poses the question, â€œAnd what of her that took / All till my youth was gone / With scarce a pitying look? / How could I praise that one?â€ (315-160. And it is then that he is able to forgive and â€œSo great a sweetness flows / I shake from head to foot.â€
 See Perloff, â€œâ€™The Tradition of myselfâ€™: The Autobiographical Mode of Yeats,â€ Journal of Modern Literature: Special Yeats Number, 4, no. 3 (Feb. 1975): 529-73.
 Samuel Beckett, Krappâ€™s Last Tape, in The Grove Centenary Edition: III Dramatic Works (New York: Grove, 2006), 19-30, p. 207. All further references to the plays are to this edition.
 See Perloff, â€œâ€™The Silence that is not Silenceâ€™: Acoustic Art in Beckettâ€™s Radio Plays,â€ Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004), 121028.