by James Joyce
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed A yellow dressing gown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air.
He held the bowl aloft and intoned gravely
Introibo ad altare Dei (Latin) I will go in to the altar of God. The Latin Tridentine Mass opens with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. After making the Sign of the Cross, the priest and his servers intone an antiphon based on Psalm 43 , Iudica Me, Deus (Judge Me, O God), the fourth verse of which Mulligan quotes. By intoning these words after he has ascended the steps, Mulligan has perverted the order of the liturgy
Halted, he turned and peered down the dark winding stairs, calling out coarsely
Come on up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
Solemnly he stepped up onto the round gunrest.
Facing about he blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the awakening mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bowed towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head
Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the stone top of the staircase and looked coldly up at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak
Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and then covered the bowl again smartly
Back to barracks! he said sternly Then he added in a preacher’s tone
For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine: body and soul and blood and ouns. Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about those white corpuscles. Silence, all.
Peering sideways up he gave a long slow whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points
Chrysostomos (Greek) golden-mouthed, a common epithet meaning eloquent, though here it refers literally to Mulligan's gold-pointed teeth.
Two strong shrill whistles answered through the calm of the morning
Thanks, old chap he cried briskly That will do nicely. Switch off the current, will you?
He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled the image of a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips
The mockery of it! he said gaily Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!
He pointed a finger in friendly jest and went over to the parapet again, laughing to himself
Stephen Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily halfway, and sat down on the edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush into the bowl and carefully lathered his cheeks and neck
Buck Mulligan’s gay voice went on
My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn’t it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?
Then, laying the brush aside, he laughed with delight and cried
Will he come? The jejune jesuit!
As his laughter subsided, he began to shave
Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly
Yes, my love?
How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?
Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right shoulder
God, isn’t he dreadful? he said frankly
A ponderous Saxon. He thinks you’re not a gentleman. God, these bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion. Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you have the real Oxford manner. He can’t make you out. O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade
He continued shaving warily over his chin
He was raving all night about a black panther Stephen said Where is his gun case?
A woful lunatic! Mulligan said Were you in a funk?
I was Stephen said with energy and growing fear Out here in the dark with a man I don’t know raving and moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You've saved men from drowning, but I’m not a hero. If he stays on here I'm off
Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets Scutter! he cried thickly
He came over to the gunrest again and, thrusting a hand into Stephen’s upper pocket, said
Lend us a loan of your nose rag to wipe me razor with, my love
Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly, then, gazing at the handkerchief, he said The bard’s noserag! A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can’t you?
Mounting the parapet again, he gazed out over Dublin bay, his fair oakpale hair stirring slightly
God! he said quietly. Isn’t the sea what Algy calls it: a great sweet mother? Algernon "Algy" Charles Swinburne, a Victorian poet, wrote these words in the poem "A Triumph of Time." "I will go back to the great sweet mother,/Mother and lover of men, the sea."
The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton. Upon the wine-coloured sea. The Homeric epithet ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον occurs several times in the Odyssey. The precise meaning of οἴνοπα (wine-faced, wine-dark, wine-coloured, or something else) has been endlessly debated by scholars. Nevertheless, this phrase remains perhaps the best-known quotation from ancient Greek literature
Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks! I must teach you. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look
Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet. Leaning on it he looked down on the water and on the mailboat clearing the harbourmouth of Kingstown
Our mighty mother! Buck Mulligan repeated, then turning abruptly his grey searching eyes from the sea to Stephen’s face he said
The aunt thinks you killed your mother That’s why she won’t let me have anything to do with you
Someone killed her Stephen replied gloomily
You could have knelt down, damn it, Kinch, when your dying mother asked you Buck Mulligan said I’m hyperborean as much as you. But to think of your mother begging you with her last breath to kneel down and pray for her. And you refusing. There's something sinister in you....
He broke off and lathered again lightly his farther cheek. A tolerant smile curled his lips
But a lovely mummer! he murmured Kinch, the loveliest mummer of them all!
He shaved again evenly and with care, in silence, seriously
Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed through the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting
Buck Mulligan wiped again his razorblade Ah, poor dogsbody! he said in a kind voice I must give you a shirt and a few noserags How are the secondhand breeks?
They fit well enough Stephen answered
Buck Mulligan attacked again the hollow beneath his underlip The mockery of it he said contentedly Secondleg they should be. God knows what poxy bowsy left them off. I have a lovely pair with a hair stripe, grey. You’ll look spiffing in them. I’m not joking, Kinch. You look damn well when you’re dressed
Thanks Stephen said but I can’t wear them if they're grey
He can’t wear them if they're grey! Buck Mulligan told his face in the mirror Etiquette is etiquette. He kills his mother but he can’t wear grey striped trousers
Folding his razor neatly closed, he felt the smooth shaved skin with stroking palps of fingers
Stephen, turning his gaze from the sea, looked quietly at the plump face with its smokeblue mobile eyes
That fellow I was with in the Ship last night said Buck Mulligan says you have g. p. i. He’s up in Dottyville with Connolly Norman. General paralysis of the insane!
He swept the mirror a half circle in the air to flash the tidings abroad in the sunlight now radiant on the sea. His curling shaven lips laughed and the golden edges of his white teeth glittered. Laughter seized all his strong wellknit trunk.
Look at yourself he said you dreadful bard!
Stephen bent forward and peered into the mirror held out to him, cleft by a crooked crack
Hair on end. As he and others see me. Who chose this face for me? This dogsbody to rid of vermin. It asks me too
I pinched it out of the skivvy’s room Buck Mulligan said It does her all right. The aunt always keeps plainlooking servants for Malachi. Lead him not into temptation. And her name is Ursula
Laughing again, he brought the mirror away from Stephen’s peering eyes
The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a mirror he said If Wilde were only alive to see you!
Drawing back, Stephen said with bitterness It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant
Buck Mulligan suddenly linked his arm in Stephen’s and walked him round the tower, his razor and mirror clacking in the pocket where he had thrust them
It’s not fair to tease you like that, Kinch, is it? he said kindly God knows you have more spirit than any of them
Parried again. He fears the lancet of my art as I fear that of his. The cold steel pen
Cracked lookingglass of a servant! Tell that to the oxy chap downstairs and touch him for a guinea. He’s stinking with money and thinks you’re not a gentleman. His old fellow made his tin by selling jalap to Zulus or some bloody swindle or other. God, Kinch, if you and I could only work together we might do something for the island. Hellenise it.
Cranly’s arm. His arm
And to think of your having to beg from these swine. I’m the only one that knows what you are. Why don’t you trust me more? What have you up your nose against me? Is it Haines? If he makes any noise here I’ll bring down Seymour and we’ll give him a ragging worse than they gave Clive Kempthorpe
Young shouts of moneyed voices in Clive Kempthorpe’s rooms. Palefaces: they hold their ribs with laughter, one clasping another. O, I shall expire! Break the news to her gently, Aubrey! I shall die! With slit ribbons of his shirt whipping the air he hops and hobbles round the table, with trousers down at heels, chased by Ades of Magdalen with the tailor’s shears. A scared calf’s face gilded with marmalade. I don’t want to be debagged! Don’t you play the giddy ox with me!
Shouts from the open window startling evening in the quadrangle. A deaf gardener, aproned, masked with Matthew Arnold’s face, pushes his mower on the sombre lawn watching narrowly the dancing motes of grasshalms
To ourselves... new paganism... omphalos...
Let him stay Stephen said There’s nothing wrong with him except at night
Then what is it? Buck Mulligan asked impatiently Cough it up now. I’m quite frank with you. What have you against me?
They halted, looking towards the blunt cape of Bray Head that lay distant on the water like the snout of a sleeping whale. Stephen freed his arm quietly
Do you really wish me to tell you? he asked
Yes, what is it? Buck Mulligan answered I don’t remember anything
He looked in Stephen’s face as he spoke. A light wind passed over his brow, fanning softly his fair uncombed hair and stirring silver points of anxiety in his eye
Stephen, depressed by his own voice, said
Do you remember the first day I went to your house after my mother’s death?
Buck Mulligan frowned quickly and said
What? Where? I can’t remember anything. I remember only ideas and sensations. Why? What happened in the name of God?
You were making tea Stephen said and went across the landing to get more hot water. Your mother and some visitor came out of the drawingroom. She asked you who was in your room
Yes? Buck Mulligan said What did I say?
You said Stephen answered O, it’s only Dedalus whose mother is beastly dead
A flush which made him seem younger and more engaging suddenly rose to Buck Mulligan’s cheek
Did I say that? he asked Well? What harm is in that?
He shook his constraint from him nervously
And what is death he asked your mother’s or yours or my own? You saw only your mother die. I see them pop off every day in the Mater and Richmond and cut up into tripes in the dissectingroom. It’s a beastly thing and nothing else. It simply doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t kneel down to pray for your mother on her deathbed when she asked you. Why? Because you have the cursed jesuit strain in you, only it’s injected the wrong way. To me it’s all a mockery and beastly. Her cerebral lobes are not functioning. She calls the doctor sir Peter Teazle and picks buttercups off the quilt. Humour her till it’s over. You crossed her last wish in death and yet you sulk with me because I don’t whinge like some hired mute from Lalouette’s. Absurd! I suppose I did say it. I didn’t mean to offend the memory of your mother
He had spoken himself into boldness. Stephen, shielding the gaping wounds which the words had left in his heart, said very coldly
I am not thinking of the offence to my mother
Of what then? Buck Mulligan asked
Of the offence to me Stephen replied
Buck Mulligan swung round on his heel
O, an impossible person! he exclaimed
He walked off quickly round the parapet. Stephen stood at his post, gazing over the calm sea towards the headland. Sea and headland now grew dim. Pulses were beating in his eyes, veiling their sight, and he felt the fever of his cheeks.
A voice within the tower called loudly Are you up there, Mulligan?
I’m coming Buck Mulligan answered He turned towards Stephen and said
Look at the sea. What does it care about offences? Chuck Loyola, Kinch, and come on down. The Sassenach wants his morning rashers
His head halted again for a moment at the top of the staircase, level with the roof
Don’t mope over it all day he said I’m inconsequent. Give up the moody brooding
His head vanished but the drone of his descending voice boomed out of the stairhead:
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery
For Fergus rules the brazen cars
Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed
Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet
Words. White breasts of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words, shimmering on the dim tide
A cloud began to cover the sun slowly, then wholly shadowing the bay in deeper green. It lay beneath him, a bowl of bitter waters
Fergus’ song: I sang it alone in the house, holding down the long dark chords. Her door was open: she wanted to hear my music. Silent with awe and pity I went to her bedside. She was crying in her wretched bed. For those words, Stephen: love’s bitter mystery.
Her secrets: old featherfans, tasselled dancecards, powdered with musk, a gaud of amber beads in her locked drawer. A birdcage hung in the sunny window of her house when she was a girl. She heard old Royce sing in the pantomime of Turko the Terrible and laughed with others when he sang:
I am the boy
That can enjoy
Phantasmal mirth, a life folded away: muskperfumed.
And no more turn aside and brood.
Folded away in the memory of nature with her toys Memories beset his brooding brain Her glass of water from the kitchen tap when she had approached the sacrament. A cored apple, filled with brown sugar, roasting for her at the hob on a dark autumn evening. Her shapely fingernails reddened by the blood of squashed lice from the children’s shirts
In a dream, silently, she had come to him, her wasted body within its loose graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, bent over him with mute secret words, a faint odour of wetted ashes
Her glazing eyes, staring out of death, to shake and bend my soul. On me alone. The ghostcandle to light her agony. Ghostly light on the tortured face. Her hoarse loud breath rattling in horror, while all prayed on their knees. Her eyes on me to strike me down
Liliata rutilantium te confessorum turma circumdet: iubilantium te virginum chorus excipiat.
May the lilied throng of radiant Confessors encompass thee; may the choir of rejoicing Virgins welcome thee. These words are taken from the Ordo Commendationis Animae (Rite for the Commending of a Departing Soul) one of the Prayers for the Dying that form part of the Last Rites given to Catholics at the point of death.
Ghoul! Chewer of corpses!
No, mother! Let me be and let me live.
Buck Mulligan’s voice sang up from within the tower. It came nearer up the staircase, calling again. Stephen, still trembling at his soul’s cry, felt warm running sunlight and in the air behind him heard the friendly words
Dedalus, come down, like a good mosey. Breakfast is ready. Haines is apologising for waking us last night. It’s all right
I’m coming Stephen said turning
Do, for Jesus’ sake Buck Mulligan said For my sake and for all our sakes
His head disappeared and reappeared
I told him your symbol of Irish art. He says it’s very clever. Touch him for a quid, will you? A guinea, I mean.
I get paid this morning Stephen said
The school kip? Buck Mulligan said How much? Four quid? Lend us one
If you want Stephen said
Four shining sovereigns Buck Mulligan cried with delight We’ll have a glorious drunk to astonish the druidy druids. Four omnipotent sovereigns
He flung up his hands and tramped back down the stone stairs, singing out of tune with a Cockney accent:
O, won’t we have a merry time,
Drinking whisky, beer and wine!
O, won’t we have a merry time
On coronation day!
Warm sunshine now, merrying over the sea. The nickel shavingbowl shining, forgotten, on the parapet. Should I bring it down? Or leave it there all day, forgotten friendship?
He went over to it, held it in his hands awhile, feeling its coolness, smelling the clammy slaver of lather in which the brush was stuck
So I carried the boat of incense then at Clongowes. I am another now and yet the same. A servant too. A server of a servant
In the gloomy domed livingroom of the tower Buck Mulligan’s gowned form moved briskly to and fro about the hearth, hiding and revealing its yellow glow. Two shafts of soft sunlight fell across the flagged floor from the high barbacans: and at the meeting of their rays a cloud of coalsmoke and the fumes of fried grease floated, turning.
We’ll all be choked Buck Mulligan said Haines, open that door, will you?
Stephen silently laid the shavingbowl on the locker. A tall figure rose from the hammock where it had been sitting, went to the doorway and pulled open the inner doors
Have you the key, Mulligan? the voice asked
Dedalus has it Buck Mulligan said Janey Mack, I’m choked!
He shouted, without looking up from the fire
It’s in the lock Stephen said
The key scraped round harshly twice and, when the heavy door had been set ajar, welcome sunlight and bright air entered
Haines stood at the doorway, looking out
Stephen haled his upended valise to the table and sat down to wait
Buck Mulligan tossed the fry on to a dishes beside him. Then he carried the dish and a large teapot over to the table, set them down heavily, sighing with relief
I’m melting he said as the candle remarked when... But, hush! Not a word more on that subject!
Kinch, wake up! Bread, butter, honey
Haines, come in.The grub is ready. Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. Where’s the sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk
Stephen fetched the loaf and the pot of honey and the buttercooler from the locker. Buck Mulligan sat down in a sudden pet
What sort of a kip is this? he said I told her to come after eight
We can drink it black Stephen said thirstily There’s a lemon in the locker
O, damn you and your Paris fads! Mulligan said I want Sandycove milk
Haines came in from the doorway and said quietly
The woman is coming up with milk
The blessings of God ! Buck Mulligan cried Pour out the tea there, Kinch The sugar is in the bag Here, I can’t go fumbling at the damned eggs
He hacked through the fry on the dish and slapped it out on three plates, saying
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti
Haines sat down to pour out the tea
I’m giving you two lumps each he said But, I say, Mulligan, you do make strong tea, don’t you?
Buck Mulligan, hewing thick slices from the loaf, said in an old woman’s wheedling voice
When I makes tea I makes tea, as old mother Grogan said. And when I makes water I makes water.
By Jove, this certainly is real tea Haines said
Buck Mulligan carried on hewing and wheedling
So I do, Mrs Cahill, says she Begob, ma’am, says Mrs Cahill God send you don’t make them in the one pot
He lunged towards his messmates, in turn, a thick slice of bread, impaled on his knife
That’s genuine folk for your book, Haines he said in earnest Five lines of text and ten pages of notes about the folk and the fishgods of Dundrum. Printed by the weird sisters in the year of the big wind
He turned to Stephen and asked in a fine puzzled voice, lifting his brows
Can you recall, brother, is mother Grogan’s tea and water pot spoken of in the Mabinogion or is it in the Upanishads?
I very much doubt it said Stephen gravely
Do you now? Buck Mulligan said in the same tone Your reasons, pray?
I fancy Stephen said as he ate It did not exist in or out of the Mabinogion. Mother Grogan was, one imagines, a kinswoman of Mary Ann
Buck Mulligan’s face smiled with delight
Charming! he said in a finical sweet voice, showing his white goldentipped teeth and blinking his eyes pleasantly Do you think she was?
Then, suddenly overclouding all his features, he growled in a hoarsened rasping voice as he hewed again vigorously at the loaf
For old Mary Ann
She doesn’t care a damn.
But, hissing up her petticoats...
He crammed his mouth full with fry and munched and droned
The doorway was darkened by an entering form The milk, sir!
Come in, ma’am Mulligan mumbled Kinch, get the jug
The old woman came forward and stood by Stephen’s elbow
That’s a lovely morning, sir she said Glory be to God
To whom? Mulligan said, glancing up at her Ah, to be sure!
Stephen reached back and took the milkjug from the locker
The islanders Mulligan said to Haines casually speak frequently of the collector of prepuces
How much milk, sir? asked the old woman
A quart Stephen said
He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk not hers. Old shrunken paps She poured again a measureful and a tilly Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out Crouching by a patient cow at daybreak in the lush field, a witch on her toadstool, her wrinkled fingers quick at the squirting dugs. They lowed about her whom they knew, dewsilky cattle. Silk of the kine and poor old woman, names given her in old times. A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning. To serve or to upbraid whether he could not tell: but scorned to beg her favour
It is indeed, ma’am Buck Mulligan said, pouring milk into their cups
Taste it, sir she said
He drank at her bidding
If only we could live on good food like that he said to her somewhat loudly we wouldn’t have the country full of rotten teeth and rotten guts. Living in a bogswamp, eating cheap food and the streets paved with dust, horsedung and consumptives’ spits
Are you a medical student, sir? the old woman asked
I am indeed, ma’am Buck Mulligan answered
Look at that now she said
Stephen listened in scornful silence
She bows her old head to a voice that speaks to her loudly, her bonesetter, her medicineman: me she slights. To the voice that will shrive and oil for the grave all that there is of her but her woman’s unclean loins, of man’s flesh made not in God’s likeness, the serpent’s prey And to the loud voice of Haines, speaking in Gaelic, that now bids her be silent with a wondering unsteady eye
Do you understand what he says? Stephen asked her
Is it French you are talking, sir? the old woman said to Haines
Haines spoke to her again a longer speech, confidently
Irish Buck Mulligan said Is there any Gaelic on you?
I thought it was Irish she said by the sound of it. Are you from the west, sir?
I am an Englishman Haines answered
He’s English Buck Mulligan said and he thinks we ought to speak Irish in Ireland
Sure we ought to the old woman said and I’m ashamed I don’t speak the language myself. I’m told it’s a grand language by them that knows
Grand is not the name for it said Buck Mulligan Wonderful entirely. Fill us out some more tea, Kinch. Would you like a cup, ma’am?
No, thank you, sir the old woman said, slipping the ring of the milkcan on her forearm and about to go
Haines said to her Have you your bill? We had better pay her, Mulligan, hadn’t we?
Stephen filled again the three cups
Bill, sir? she said, halting Well, it’s seven mornings a pint at twopence is seven twos is a shilling and twopence over and these three mornings a quart at fourpence is three quarts is a shilling. That’s a shilling and one and two is two and two, sir
Buck Mulligan sighed, and having filled his mouth with a crust thickly buttered on both sides, stretched forth his legs and began to search his trouser pockets
Pay up and look pleasant Haines said to him, smiling
Stephen filled a third cup, a spoonful of tea colouring faintly the thick rich milk. Buck Mulligan brought up a florin, twisted it round in his fingers and cried A miracle!
He passed it along the table towards the old woman, saying Ask nothing more of me, sweet. All I can give you I give
Stephen laid the coin in her uneager hand
We’ll owe the twopence he said
Time enough, sir she said, taking the coin Time enough. Good morning, sir
She curtseyed and went out, followed by Buck Mulligan’s tender chant
Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet
He turned to Stephen and said Seriously, Dedalus. I’m stony. Hurry out to your school kip and bring us back some money. Today the bards must drink and junket. Ireland expects that every man this day will do his duty
That reminds me Haines said, rising that I have to visit your national library today
Our swim first Buck Mulligan said
He turned to Stephen and asked blandly Is this the day for your monthly wash, Kinch?
Then he said to Haines The unclean bard makes a point of washing once a month
All Ireland is washed by the gulfstream Stephen said as he let honey trickle over a slice of the loaf
Haines from the corner where he was knotting easily a scarf about the loose collar of his tennis shirt spoke
I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you will let me
Speaking to me They wash and tub and scrub Agenbite of inwit Conscience Yet here’s a spot
That one about the cracked lookingglass of a servant being the symbol of Irish art is deuced good
Buck Mulligan kicked Stephen’s foot under the table and said with warmth of tone Wait until you hear him on Hamlet, Haines
Well, I mean it Haines said, still speaking to Stephen I was just thinking of it when that poor old creature came in
Would I make any money by it? Stephen asked
Haines laughed and, as he took his soft grey hat from the holdfast of the hammock, he said I don’t know, I’m sure
He strolled out to the doorway Buck Mulligan bent across to Stephen and said with a hushed, coarse vigour
You've put your hoof in it now. What did you say that for?
Well? Stephen said The problem is to get money. From whom? From the milkwoman or from him. It’s a toss up, I think.
I blow him out about you Buck Mulligan continued and then you come along with your lousy leer and your gloomy jesuit jibes
Well I see little hope Stephen said from her or from him
Buck Mulligan sighed tragically and laid his hand on Stephen’s arm Or from me, Kinch he said
Then in a suddenly changed tone he added To tell you the God’s truth I think you’re right. Damn all else they're good for. Why don’t you play them as I do? To hell with them all. Let us get out of this kip
He stood up gravely ungirdled and disrobed himself of his gown saying resignedly Mulligan is stripped of his garments
He emptied his pockets on to the table There’s your snotrag he said
And putting on his shirt, his stiff collar and a rebellious tie he spoke to them, chiding them, and to his dangling watchchain. His hands plunged and rummaged in his trunk while he called for a clean handkerchief
God, we’ll simply have to dress the character. I want puce gloves and green boots. Contradiction. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself (Walt Whitman). Mercurial Malacae
A limp black missile flew out of his talking hands And there’s your Latin quarter hat he said
Stephen picked it up and put it on Haines called to them from the doorway Are you coming, you fellows?
I’m ready Buck Mulligan answered, going towards the door Come out, Kinch. You have eaten all we left, I suppose. Resigned he passed out with grave words and gait, saying, wellnigh with sorrow And going forth he met Butterly.
Stephen, taking his ashplant from its leaningplace, followed them out and, as they went down the ladder, pulled to the slow iron door and locked it. He put the huge key in his inner pocket.
At the foot of the ladder Buck Mulligan asked Did you bring the key?
I have it Stephen said, preceding them.
He walked on. Behind him he heard Buck Mulligan club with his heavy bathtowel the leader shoots of ferns or grasses.
Down, sir! How dare you, sir!
Haines asked Do you pay rent for this tower?
Twelve quid Buck Mulligan said
To the secretary of state for war Stephen added over his shoulder
They halted while Haines surveyed the tower and said at last Rather bleak in wintertime, I should say. Martello you call it?
Billy Pitt had them built Buck Mulligan said when the French were on the sea But ours is the omphalos.
What is your idea of Hamlet? Haines asked Stephen
No, no Buck Mulligan shouted in pain I’m not equal to Thomas Aquinas and the fiftyfive reasons he has made out to prop it up. Wait till I have a few pints in me first
He turned to Stephen, saying, as he pulled down neatly the peaks of his primrose waistcoat You couldn’t manage it under three pints, Kinch, could you?
It has waited so long Stephen said listlessly it can wait longer
You pique my curiosity Haines said amiably Is it some paradox?
Pooh! Buck Mulligan said We have grown out of Wilde and paradoxes It’s quite simple He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father
What? Haines said, beginning to point at Stephen He himself?
Buck Mulligan slung his towel stolewise round his neck and, bending in loose laughter, said to Stephen’s ear
O, shade of Kinch the elder! Japhet in search of a father
We’re always tired in the morning Stephen said to Haines And it is rather long to tell
Buck Mulligan, walking forward again, raised his hands The sacred pint alone can unbind the tongue of Dedalus he said
I mean to say, Haines explained to Stephen as they followed, this tower and these cliffs here remind me somehow of Elsinore. That beetles o’er his base into the sea, isn’t it?
Buck Mulligan turned suddenly for an instant towards Stephen but did not speak. In the bright silent instant Stephen saw his own image in cheap dusty mourning between their gay attires.
It’s a wonderful tale, Haines said, bringing them to halt again.
Eyes, pale as the sea the wind had freshened, paler, firm and prudent. The seas’ ruler, he gazed southward over the bay, empty save for the smokeplume of the mailboat vague on the bright skyline and a sail tacking by the Muglins.
—I read a theological interpretation of it somewhere, he said bemused. The Father and the Son idea. The Son striving to be atoned with the Father.
Buck Mulligan at once put on a blithe broadly smiling face. He looked at them, his wellshaped mouth open happily, his eyes, from which he had suddenly withdrawn all shrewd sense, blinking with mad gaiety. He moved a doll’s head to and fro, the brims of his Panama hat quivering, and began to chant in a quiet happy foolish voice
—I’m the queerest young fellow that ever you heard.
My mother’s a jew, my father’s a bird.
With Joseph the joiner I cannot agree.
So here’s to disciples and Calvary.
He held up a forefinger of warning
If anyone thinks that I amn’t divine
He’ll get no free drinks when I’m making the wine
But have to drink water and wish it were plain
That I make when the wine becomes water again
He tugged swiftly at Stephen’s ashplant in farewell and, running forward to a brow of the cliff, fluttered his hands at his sides like fins or wings of one about to rise in the air, and chanted
Goodbye, now, goodbye! Write down all I said
And tell Tom, Dick and Harry I rose from the dead.
What’s bred in the bone cannot fail me to fly
And Olivet’s breezy... Goodbye, now, goodbye!
He capered before them down towards the fortyfoot hole, fluttering his winglike hands, leaping nimbly, Mercury’s hat quivering in the fresh wind that bore back to them his brief birdsweet cries.
Haines, who had been laughing guardedly, walked on beside Stephen and said:
We oughtn’t to laugh, I suppose. He’s rather blasphemous. I’m not a believer myself, that is to say. Still his gaiety takes the harm out of it somehow, doesn’t it? What did he call it? Joseph the Joiner?
The ballad of joking Jesus, Stephen answered.
O, Haines said, you have heard it before?
Three times a day, after meals, Stephen said drily.
You’re not a believer, are you? Haines asked. I mean, a believer in the narrow sense of the word. Creation from nothing and miracles and a personal God.
There’s only one sense of the word, it seems to me, Stephen said.
Haines stopped to take out a smooth silver case in which twinkled a green stone. He sprang it open with his thumb and offered it.
Thank you, Stephen said, taking a cigarette.
Haines helped himself and snapped the case to. He put it back in his sidepocket and took from his waistcoatpocket a nickel tinderbox, sprang it open too, and, having lit his cigarette, held the flaming spunk towards Stephen in the shell of his hands.
Yes, of course, he said,as they went on again. Either you believe or you don’t, isn’t it? Personally I couldn’t stomach that idea of a personal God. You don’t stand for that, I suppose?
You behold in me, Stephen said with grim displeasure, a horrible example of free thought.
He walked on, waiting to be spoken to, trailing his ashplant by his side. Its ferrule followed lightly on the path, squealing at his heels.
My familiar, after me, calling, Steeeeeeeeeeeephen! A wavering line along the path. They will walk on it tonight, coming here in the dark. He wants that key. It is mine. I paid the rent. Now I eat his salt bread. Give him the key too. All. He will ask for it. That was in his eyes.
After all, Haines began...
Stephen turned and saw that the cold gaze which had measured him was not all unkind.
After all, I should think you are able to free yourself. You are your own master, it seems to me.
I am a servant of two masters, Stephen said, an English and an Italian.
Italian? Haines said.
A crazy queen, old and jealous. Kneel down before me.
And a third, Stephen said, there is who wants me for odd jobs.
Italian? Haines said again. What do you mean?
The imperial British state, Stephen answered, his colour rising, and the holy Roman catholic and apostolic church.
Haines detached from his underlip some fibres of tobacco before he spoke.
I can quite understand that, he said calmly. An Irishman must think like that, I daresay. We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly. It seems history is to blame.
The proud potent titles clanged over Stephen’s memory the triumph of their brazen bells:
et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam:
the slow growth and change of rite and dogma like his own rare thoughts, a chemistry of stars. Symbol of the apostles in the mass for pope Marcellus, the voices blended, singing alone loud in affirmation: and behind their chant the vigilant angel of the church militant disarmed and menaced her heresiarchs. A horde of heresies fleeing with mitres awry: Photius and the brood of mockers of whom Mulligan was one, and Arius, warring his life long upon the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and Valentine, spurning Christ’s terrene body, and the subtle African heresiarch Sabellius who held that the Father was Himself His own Son. Words Mulligan had spoken a moment since in mockery to the stranger. Idle mockery. The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind: a menace, a disarming and a worsting from those embattled angels of the church, Michael’s host, who defend her ever in the hour of conflict with their lances and their shields.
Hear, hear! Prolonged applause. Zut! Nom de Dieu!
Of course I’m a Britisher, Haines’s voice said, and I feel as one. I don’t want to see my country fall into the hands of German jews either. That’s our national problem, I’m afraid, just now.
Two men stood at the verge of the cliff, watching: businessman, boatman.
She’s making for Bullock harbour.
The boatman nodded towards the north of the bay with some disdain.
There’s five fathoms out there, he said. It’ll be swept up that way when the tide comes in about one. It’s nine days today.
The man that was drowned. A sail veering about the blank bay waiting for a swollen bundle to bob up, roll over to the sun a puffy face, saltwhite. Here I am.
They followed the winding path down to the creek. Buck Mulligan stood on a stone, in shirtsleeves, his unclipped tie rippling over his shoulder. A young man clinging to a spur of rock near him, moved slowly frogwise his green legs in the deep jelly of the water.
Is the brother with you, Malachi?
Down in Westmeath. With the Bannons.
Still there? I got a card from Bannon. Says he found a sweet young thing down there. Photo girl he calls her.
Snapshot, eh? Brief exposure.
Buck Mulligan sat down to unlace his boots. An elderly man shot up near the spur of rock a blowing red face. He scrambled up by the stones, water glistening on his pate and on its garland of grey hair, water rilling over his chest and paunch and spilling jets out of his black sagging loincloth.
Buck Mulligan made way for him to scramble past and, glancing at Haines and Stephen, crossed himself piously with his thumbnail at brow and lips and breastbone.
Seymour’s back in town, the young man said, grasping again his spur of rock. Chucked medicine and going in for the army.
Ah, go to God! Buck Mulligan said.
Going over next week to stew. You know that red Carlisle girl, Lily?
Spooning with him last night on the pier. The father is rotto with money.
Is she up the pole?
Better ask Seymour that.
Seymour a bleeding officer! Buck Mulligan said.
He nodded to himself as he drew off his trousers and stood up, saying tritely:
Redheaded women buck like goats.
He broke off in alarm, feeling his side under his flapping shirt.
My twelfth rib is gone, he cried. I’m the Übermensch. Toothless Kinch and I, the supermen.
He struggled out of his shirt and flung it behind him to where his clothes lay.
Are you going in here, Malachi?
Yes. Make room in the bed.
The young man shoved himself backward through the water and reached the middle of the creek in two long clean strokes. Haines sat down on a stone, smoking.
Are you not coming in? Buck Mulligan asked.
Later on, Haines said. Not on my breakfast.
Stephen turned away.
I’m going, Mulligan, he said.
Give us that key, Kinch, Buck Mulligan said, to keep my chemise flat.
Stephen handed him the key. Buck Mulligan laid it across his heaped clothes.
And twopence, he said, for a pint. Throw it there.
Stephen threw two pennies on the soft heap. Dressing, undressing. Buck Mulligan erect, with joined hands before him, said solemnly:
He who stealeth from the poor lendeth to the Lord. Thus spake Zarathustra.
His plump body plunged.
We’ll see you again, Haines said, turning as Stephen walked up the path and smiling at wild Irish.
Horn of a bull, hoof of a horse, smile of a Saxon.
The Ship, Buck Mulligan cried. Half twelve.
Good, Stephen said.
He walked along the upwardcurving path.
Iubilantium te virginum.
The priest’s grey nimbus in a niche where he dressed discreetly. I will not sleep here tonight. Home also I cannot go.
A voice, sweet-toned and sustained, called to him from the sea. Turning the curve he waved his hand. It called again. A sleek brown head, a seal’s, far out on the water, round.
[ 2 ]
—You, Cochrane, what city sent for him?
—Very good. Well?
—There was a battle, sir.
—Very good. Where?
The boy’s blank face asked the blank window.
Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake’s wings of excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What’s left us then?
—I forget the place, sir. 279 B. C.
—Asculum, Stephen said, glancing at the name and date in the gorescarred book.
—Yes, sir. And he said: Another victory like that and we are done for.
That phrase the world had remembered. A dull ease of the mind. From a hill above a corpsestrewn plain a general speaking to his officers, leaned upon his spear. Any general to any officers. They lend ear.
—You, Armstrong, Stephen said. What was the end of Pyrrhus?
—End of Pyrrhus, sir?
—I know, sir. Ask me, sir, Comyn said.
—Wait. You, Armstrong. Do you know anything about Pyrrhus?
A bag of figrolls lay snugly in Armstrong’s satchel. He curled them between his palms at whiles and swallowed them softly. Crumbs adhered to the tissue of his lips. A sweetened boy’s breath. Welloff people, proud that their eldest son was in the navy. Vico Road, Dalkey.
—Pyrrhus, sir? Pyrrhus, a pier.
All laughed. Mirthless high malicious laughter. Armstrong looked round at his classmates, silly glee in profile. In a moment they will laugh more loudly, aware of my lack of rule and of the fees their papas pay.
—Tell me now, Stephen said, poking the boy’s shoulder with the book, what is a pier?
—A pier, sir, Armstrong said. A thing out in the water. A kind of a bridge. Kingstown pier, sir.
Some laughed again: mirthless but with meaning. Two in the back bench whispered. Yes. They knew: had never learned nor ever been innocent. All. With envy he watched their faces: Edith, Ethel, Gerty, Lily. Their likes: their breaths, too, sweetened with tea and jam, their bracelets tittering in the struggle.
—Kingstown pier, Stephen said. Yes, a disappointed bridge.
The words troubled their gaze.
—How, sir? Comyn asked. A bridge is across a river.
For Haines’s chapbook. No-one here to hear. Tonight deftly amid wild drink and talk, to pierce the polished mail of his mind. What then? A jester at the court of his master, indulged and disesteemed, winning a clement master’s praise. Why had they chosen all that part? Not wholly for the smooth caress. For them too history was a tale like any other too often heard, their land a pawnshop.
Had Pyrrhus not fallen by a beldam’s hand in Argos or Julius Caesar not been knifed to death. They are not to be thought away. Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind.
—Tell us a story, sir.
—O, do, sir. A ghoststory.
—Where do you begin in this? Stephen asked, opening another book.
—Weep no more, Comyn said.
—Go on then, Talbot.
—And the story, sir?
—After, Stephen said. Go on, Talbot.
A swarthy boy opened a book and propped it nimbly under the breastwork of his satchel. He recited jerks of verse with odd glances at the text:
—Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more
For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor...
It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle’s phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind’s darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, vast, candescent: form of forms.
—Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves,
Through the dear might...
—Turn over, Stephen said quietly. I don’t see anything.
—What, sir? Talbot asked simply, bending forward.
His hand turned the page over. He leaned back and went on again, having just remembered. Of him that walked the waves. Here also over these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer’s heart and lips and on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute. To Caesar what is Caesar’s, to God what is God’s. A long look from dark eyes, a riddling sentence to be woven and woven on the church’s looms. Ay.
Riddle me, riddle me, randy ro.
My father gave me seeds to sow.
Talbot slid his closed book into his satchel.
—Have I heard all? Stephen asked.
—Yes, sir. Hockey at ten, sir.
—Half day, sir. Thursday.
—Who can answer a riddle? Stephen asked.
They bundled their books away, pencils clacking, pages rustling. Crowding together they strapped and buckled their satchels, all gabbling gaily:
—A riddle, sir? Ask me, sir.
—O, ask me, sir.
—A hard one, sir.
—This is the riddle, Stephen said:
The cock crew,
The sky was blue:
The bells in heaven
Were striking eleven.
’Tis time for this poor soul
To go to heaven.
What is that?
—Again, sir. We didn’t hear.
Their eyes grew bigger as the lines were repeated. After a silence Cochrane said:
—What is it, sir? We give it up.
Stephen, his throat itching, answered:
—The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush.
He stood up and gave a shout of nervous laughter to which their cries echoed dismay.
A stick struck the door and a voice in the corridor called:
They broke asunder, sidling out of their benches, leaping them. Quickly they were gone and from the lumberroom came the rattle of sticks and clamour of their boots and tongues.
Sargent who alone had lingered came forward slowly, showing an open copybook. His tangled hair and scraggy neck gave witness of unreadiness and through his misty glasses weak eyes looked up pleading. On his cheek, dull and bloodless, a soft stain of ink lay, dateshaped, recent and damp as a snail’s bed.
He held out his copybook. The word Sums was written on the headline. Beneath were sloping figures and at the foot a crooked signature with blind loops and a blot. Cyril Sargent: his name and seal.
—Mr Deasy told me to write them out all again, he said, and show them to you, sir.
Stephen touched the edges of the book. Futility.
—Do you understand how to do them now? he asked.
—Numbers eleven to fifteen, Sargent answered. Mr Deasy said I was to copy them off the board, sir.
—Can you do them yourself? Stephen asked.
Ugly and futile: lean neck and tangled hair and a stain of ink, a snail’s bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? His mother’s prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in holy zeal bestrode. She was no more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire, an odour of rosewood and wetted ashes. She had saved him from being trampled underfoot and had gone, scarcely having been. A poor soul gone to heaven: and on a heath beneath winking stars a fox, red reek of rapine in his fur, with merciless bright eyes scraped in the earth, listened, scraped up the earth, listened, scraped and scraped.
Sitting at his side Stephen solved out the problem. He proves by algebra that Shakespeare’s ghost is Hamlet’s grandfather. Sargent peered askance through his slanted glasses. Hockeysticks rattled in the lumberroom: the hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field.
Across the page the symbols moved in grave morrice, in the mummery of their letters, wearing quaint caps of squares and cubes. Give hands, traverse, bow to partner: so: imps of fancy of the Moors. Gone too from the world, Averroes and Moses Maimonides, dark men in mien and movement, flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world, a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend.
—Do you understand now? Can you work the second for yourself?
In long shaky strokes Sargent copied the data. Waiting always for a word of help his hand moved faithfully the unsteady symbols, a faint hue of shame flickering behind his dull skin. Amor matris: subjective and objective genitive. With her weak blood and wheysour milk she had fed him and hid from sight of others his swaddling bands.
Like him was I, these sloping shoulders, this gracelessness. My childhood bends beside me. Too far for me to lay a hand there once or lightly. Mine is far and his secret as our eyes. Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned.
The sum was done.
—It is very simple, Stephen said as he stood up.
—Yes, sir. Thanks, Sargent answered.
He dried the page with a sheet of thin blottingpaper and carried his copybook back to his bench.
—You had better get your stick and go out to the others, Stephen said as he followed towards the door the boy’s graceless form.
In the corridor his name was heard, called from the playfield.
—Run on, Stephen said. Mr Deasy is calling you.
He stood in the porch and watched the laggard hurry towards the scrappy field where sharp voices were in strife. They were sorted in teams and Mr Deasy came away stepping over wisps of grass with gaitered feet. When he had reached the schoolhouse voices again contending called to him. He turned his angry white moustache.
—What is it now? he cried continually without listening.
—Cochrane and Halliday are on the same side, sir, Stephen said.
—Will you wait in my study for a moment, Mr Deasy said, till I restore order here.
And as he stepped fussily back across the field his old man’s voice cried sternly:
—What is the matter? What is it now?
Their sharp voices cried about him on all sides: their many forms closed round him, the garish sunshine bleaching the honey of his illdyed head.
Stale smoky air hung in the study with the smell of drab abraded leather of its chairs. As on the first day he bargained with me here. As it was in the beginning, is now. On the sideboard the tray of Stuart coins, base treasure of a bog: and ever shall be. And snug in their spooncase of purple plush, faded, the twelve apostles having preached to all the gentiles: world without end.
A hasty step over the stone porch and in the corridor. Blowing out his rare moustache Mr Deasy halted at the table.
—First, our little financial settlement, he said.
He brought out of his coat a pocketbook bound by a leather thong. It slapped open and he took from it two notes, one of joined halves, and laid them carefully on the table.
—Two, he said, strapping and stowing his pocketbook away.
And now his strongroom for the gold. Stephen’s embarrassed hand moved over the shells heaped in the cold stone mortar: whelks and money cowries and leopard shells: and this, whorled as an emir’s turban, and this, the scallop of saint James. An old pilgrim’s hoard, dead treasure, hollow shells.
A sovereign fell, bright and new, on the soft pile of the tablecloth.
—Three, Mr Deasy said, turning his little savingsbox about in his hand. These are handy things to have. See. This is for sovereigns. This is for shillings. Sixpences, halfcrowns. And here crowns. See.
He shot from it two crowns and two shillings.
—Three twelve, he said. I think you’ll find that’s right.
—Thank you, sir, Stephen said, gathering the money together with shy haste and putting it all in a pocket of his trousers.
—No thanks at all, Mr Deasy said. You have earned it.
Stephen’s hand, free again, went back to the hollow shells. Symbols too of beauty and of power. A lump in my pocket: symbols soiled by greed and misery.
—Don’t carry it like that, Mr Deasy said. You’ll pull it out somewhere and lose it. You just buy one of these machines. You’ll find them very handy.
—Mine would be often empty, Stephen said.
The same room and hour, the same wisdom: and I the same. Three times now. Three nooses round me here. Well? I can break them in this instant if I will.
—Because you don’t save, Mr Deasy said, pointing his finger.
You don’t know yet what money is. Money is power. When you have lived as long as I have. I know, I know. If youth but knew. But what does Shakespeare say? Put but money in thy purse.
—Iago, Stephen murmured.
He lifted his gaze from the idle shells to the old man’s stare.
—He knew what money was, Mr Deasy said. He made money. A poet, yes, but an Englishman too. Do you know what is the pride of the English? Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?
The seas’ ruler. His seacold eyes looked on the empty bay: it seems history is to blame: on me and on my words, unhating.
—That on his empire, Stephen said, the sun never sets.
—Ba! Mr Deasy cried. That’s not English. A French Celt said that. He tapped his savingsbox against his thumbnail.
—I will tell you, he said solemnly, what is his proudest boast. I paid my way.
Good man, good man.
—I paid my way. I never borrowed a shilling in my life. Can you feel that? I owe nothing. Can you?
Mulligan, nine pounds, three pairs of socks, one pair brogues, ties. Curran, ten guineas. McCann, one guinea. Fred Ryan, two shillings. Temple, two lunches. Russell, one guinea, Cousins, ten shillings, Bob Reynolds, half a guinea, Koehler, three guineas, Mrs MacKernan, five weeks’ board. The lump I have is useless.
—For the moment, no, Stephen answered.
Mr Deasy laughed with rich delight, putting back his savingsbox.
—I knew you couldn’t, he said joyously. But one day you must feel it. We are a generous people but we must also be just.
—I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.
Mr Deasy stared sternly for some moments over the mantelpiece at the shapely bulk of a man in tartan fillibegs: Albert Edward, prince of Wales.
—You think me an old fogey and an old tory, his thoughtful voice said. I saw three generations since O’Connell’s time. I remember the famine in ’46. Do you know that the orange lodges agitated for repeal of the union twenty years before O’Connell did or before the prelates of your communion denounced him as a demagogue? You fenians forget some things.
Glorious, pious and immortal memory. The lodge of Diamond in Armagh the splendid behung with corpses of papishes. Hoarse, masked and armed, the planters’ covenant. The black north and true blue bible. Croppies lie down.
Stephen sketched a brief gesture.
—I have rebel blood in me too, Mr Deasy said. On the spindle side. But I am descended from sir John Blackwood who voted for the union. We are all Irish, all kings’ sons.
—Alas, Stephen said.
—Per vias rectas, Mr Deasy said firmly, was his motto. He voted for it and put on his topboots to ride to Dublin from the Ards of Down to do so.
Lal the ral the ra
The rocky road to Dublin.
A gruff squire on horseback with shiny topboots. Soft day, sir John! Soft day, your honour!... Day!... Day!... Two topboots jog dangling on to Dublin. Lal the ral the ra. Lal the ral the raddy.
—That reminds me, Mr Deasy said. You can do me a favour, Mr Dedalus, with some of your literary friends. I have a letter here for the press. Sit down a moment. I have just to copy the end.
He went to the desk near the window, pulled in his chair twice and read off some words from the sheet on the drum of his typewriter.
—Sit down. Excuse me, he said over his shoulder, the dictates of common sense. Just a moment.
He peered from under his shaggy brows at the manuscript by his elbow and, muttering, began to prod the stiff buttons of the keyboard slowly, sometimes blowing as he screwed up the drum to erase an error.
Stephen seated himself noiselessly before the princely presence. Framed around the walls images of vanished horses stood in homage, their meek heads poised in air: lord Hastings’ Repulse, the duke of Westminster’s Shotover, the duke of Beaufort’s Ceylon, prix de Paris, 1866. Elfin riders sat them, watchful of a sign. He saw their speeds, backing king’s colours, and shouted with the shouts of vanished crowds.
—Full stop, Mr Deasy bade his keys. But prompt ventilation of this allimportant question...
Where Cranly led me to get rich quick, hunting his winners among the mudsplashed brakes, amid the bawls of bookies on their pitches and reek of the canteen, over the motley slush. Even money Fair Rebel. Ten to one the field. Dicers and thimbleriggers we hurried by after the hoofs, the vying caps and jackets and past the meatfaced woman, a butcher’s dame, nuzzling thirstily her clove of orange.
Shouts rang shrill from the boys’ playfield and a whirring whistle.
Again: a goal. I am among them, among their battling bodies in a medley, the joust of life. You mean that knockkneed mother’s darling who seems to be slightly crawsick? Jousts. Time shocked rebounds, shock by shock. Jousts, slush and uproar of battles, the frozen deathspew of the slain, a shout of spearspikes baited with men’s bloodied guts.
—Now then, Mr Deasy said, rising.
He came to the table, pinning together his sheets. Stephen stood up.
—I have put the matter into a nutshell, Mr Deasy said. It’s about the foot and mouth disease. Just look through it. There can be no two opinions on the matter.
May I trespass on your valuable space. That doctrine of laissez faire which so often in our history. Our cattle trade. The way of all our old industries. Liverpool ring which jockeyed the Galway harbour scheme. European conflagration. Grain supplies through the narrow waters of the channel. The pluterperfect imperturbability of the department of agriculture. Pardoned a classical allusion. Cassandra. By a woman who was no better than she should be. To come to the point at issue.
—I don’t mince words, do I? Mr Deasy asked as Stephen read on.
Foot and mouth disease. Known as Koch’s preparation. Serum and virus. Percentage of salted horses. Rinderpest. Emperor’s horses at Mürzsteg, lower Austria. Veterinary surgeons. Mr Henry Blackwood Price. Courteous offer a fair trial. Dictates of common sense. Allimportant question. In every sense of the word take the bull by the horns. Thanking you for the hospitality of your columns.
—I want that to be printed and read, Mr Deasy said. You will see at the next outbreak they will put an embargo on Irish cattle. And it can be cured. It is cured. My cousin, Blackwood Price, writes to me it is regularly treated and cured in Austria by cattledoctors there. They offer to come over here. I am trying to work up influence with the department. Now I’m going to try publicity. I am surrounded by difficulties, by... intrigues by... backstairs influence by...
He raised his forefinger and beat the air oldly before his voice spoke.
—Mark my words, Mr Dedalus, he said. England is in the hands of the jews. In all the highest places: her finance, her press. And they are the signs of a nation’s decay. Wherever they gather they eat up the nation’s vital strength. I have seen it coming these years. As sure as we are standing here the jew merchants are already at their work of destruction. Old England is dying.
He stepped swiftly off, his eyes coming to blue life as they passed a broad sunbeam. He faced about and back again.
—Dying, he said again, if not dead by now.
The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s windingsheet.
His eyes open wide in vision stared sternly across the sunbeam in which he halted.
—A merchant, Stephen said, is one who buys cheap and sells dear, jew or gentile, is he not?
—They sinned against the light, Mr Deasy said gravely. And you can see the darkness in their eyes. And that is why they are wanderers on the earth to this day.
On the steps of the Paris stock exchange the goldskinned men quoting prices on their gemmed fingers. Gabble of geese. They swarmed loud, uncouth about the temple, their heads thickplotting under maladroit silk hats. Not theirs: these clothes, this speech, these gestures. Their full slow eyes belied the words, the gestures eager and unoffending, but knew the rancours massed about them and knew their zeal was vain. Vain patience to heap and hoard. Time surely would scatter all. A hoard heaped by the roadside: plundered and passing on. Their eyes knew their years of wandering and, patient, knew the dishonours of their flesh.
—Who has not? Stephen said.
—What do you mean? Mr Deasy asked.
He came forward a pace and stood by the table. His underjaw fell sideways open uncertainly. Is this old wisdom? He waits to hear from me.
—History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal. What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?
—The ways of the Creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All human history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
—That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
—What? Mr Deasy asked.
—A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.
Mr Deasy looked down and held for awhile the wings of his nose tweaked between his fingers. Looking up again he set them free.
—I am happier than you are, he said. We have committed many errors and many sins. A woman brought sin into the world. For a woman who was no better than she should be, Helen, the runaway wife of Menelaus, ten years the Greeks made war on Troy. A faithless wife first brought the strangers to our shore here, MacMurrough’s wife and her leman, O’Rourke, prince of Breffni. A woman too brought Parnell low. Many errors, many failures but not the one sin. I am a struggler now at the end of my days. But I will fight for the right till the end.
For Ulster will fight
And Ulster will be right.
Stephen raised the sheets in his hand.
—Well, sir, he began.
—I foresee, Mr Deasy said, that you will not remain here very long at this work. You were not born to be a teacher, I think. Perhaps I am wrong.
—A learner rather, Stephen said.
And here what will you learn more?
Mr Deasy shook his head.
—Who knows? he said. To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.
Stephen rustled the sheets again.
—As regards these, he began.
—Yes, Mr Deasy said. You have two copies there. If you can have them published at once.
Telegraph. Irish Homestead.
—I will try, Stephen said, and let you know tomorrow. I know two editors slightly.
—That will do, Mr Deasy said briskly. I wrote last night to Mr Field, M.P. There is a meeting of the cattletraders’ association today at the City Arms hotel. I asked him to lay my letter before the meeting. You see if you can get it into your two papers. What are they?
—The Evening Telegraph...
—That will do, Mr Deasy said. There is no time to lose. Now I have to answer that letter from my cousin.
—Good morning, sir, Stephen said, putting the sheets in his pocket. Thank you.
—Not at all, Mr Deasy said as he searched the papers on his desk. I like to break a lance with you, old as I am.
—Good morning, sir, Stephen said again, bowing to his bent back.
He went out by the open porch and down the gravel path under the trees, hearing the cries of voices and crack of sticks from the playfield. The lions couchant on the pillars as he passed out through the gate: toothless terrors. Still I will help him in his fight. Mulligan will dub me a new name: the bullockbefriending bard.
Running after me. No more letters, I hope.
—Just one moment.
—Yes, sir, Stephen said, turning back at the gate.
Mr Deasy halted, breathing hard and swallowing his breath.
—I just wanted to say, he said. Ireland, they say, has the honour of being the only country which never persecuted the jews. Do you know that? No. And do you know why?
He frowned sternly on the bright air.
—Why, sir? Stephen asked, beginning to smile.
—Because she never let them in, Mr Deasy said solemnly.
A coughball of laughter leaped from his throat dragging after it a rattling chain of phlegm. He turned back quickly, coughing, laughing, his lifted arms waving to the air.
—She never let them in, he cried again through his laughter as he stamped on gaitered feet over the gravel of the path. That’s why.
On his wise shoulders through the checkerwork of leaves the sun flung spangles, dancing coins.
[ 3 ]
Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.
Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells.
You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o’er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably! I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the ends of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los Demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand? Crush, crack, crick, crick. Wild sea money. Dominie Deasy kens them a’.
Won’t you come to Sandymount,
Madeline the mare?
Rhythm begins, you see. I hear. A catalectic tetrameter of iambs marching. No, agallop: deline the mare.
Open your eyes now. I will. One moment. Has all vanished since? If I open and am for ever in the black adiaphane. Basta! I will see if I can see.
See now. There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world without end.
They came down the steps from Leahy’s terrace prudently, Frauenzimmer: and down the shelving shore flabbily, their splayed feet sinking in the silted sand. Like me, like Algy, coming down to our mighty mother. Number one swung lourdily her midwife’s bag, the other’s gamp poked in the beach. From the liberties, out for the day. Mrs Florence MacCabe, relict of the late Patk MacCabe, deeply lamented, of Bride Street. One of her sisterhood lugged me squealing into life. Creation from nothing. What has she in the bag? A misbirth with a trailing navelcord, hushed in ruddy wool. The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos. Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one.
Spouse and helpmate of Adam Kadmon: Heva, naked Eve. She had no navel. Gaze. Belly without blemish, bulging big, a buckler of taut vellum, no, whiteheaped corn, orient and immortal, standing from everlasting to everlasting. Womb of sin.
Wombed in sin darkness I was too, made not begotten. By them, the man with my voice and my eyes and a ghostwoman with ashes on her breath. They clasped and sundered, did the coupler’s will. From before the ages He willed me and now may not will me away or ever. A lex eterna stays about Him. Is that then the divine substance wherein Father and Son are consubstantial? Where is poor dear Arius to try conclusions? Warring his life long upon the contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality. Illstarred heresiarch! In a Greek watercloset he breathed his last: euthanasia. With beaded mitre and with crozier, stalled upon his throne, widower of a widowed see, with upstiffed omophorion, with clotted hinderparts.
Airs romped round him, nipping and eager airs. They are coming, waves. The whitemaned seahorses, champing, brightwindbridled, the steeds of Mananaan.
I mustn’t forget his letter for the press. And after? The Ship, half twelve. By the way go easy with that money like a good young imbecile. Yes, I must.
His pace slackened.
Here. Am I going to aunt Sara’s or not? My consubstantial father’s voice. Did you see anything of your artist brother Stephen lately? No? Sure he’s not down in Strasburg terrace with his aunt Sally? Couldn’t he fly a bit higher than that, eh? And and and and tell us, Stephen, how is uncle Si? O, weeping God, the things I married into! De boys up in de hayloft. The drunken little costdrawer and his brother, the cornet player. Highly respectable gondoliers! And skeweyed Walter sirring his father, no less! Sir. Yes, sir. No, sir. Jesus wept: and no wonder, by Christ!
I pull the wheezy bell of their shuttered cottage: and wait. They take me for a dun, peer out from a coign of vantage.
—It’s Stephen, sir.
—Let him in. Let Stephen in.
A bolt drawn back and Walter welcomes me.
—We thought you were someone else.
In his broad bed nuncle Richie, pillowed and blanketed, extends over the hillock of his knees a sturdy forearm. Cleanchested. He has washed the upper moiety.
He lays aside the lapboard whereon he drafts his bills of costs for the eyes of master Goff and master Shapland Tandy, filing consents and common searches and a writ of Duces Tecum. A bogoak frame over his bald head: Wilde’s Requiescat. The drone of his misleading whistle brings Walter back.
—Malt for Richie and Stephen, tell mother. Where is she?
—Bathing Crissie, sir.
Papa’s little bedpal. Lump of love.
—No, uncle Richie...
—Call me Richie. Damn your lithia water. It lowers. Whusky!
—Uncle Richie, really...
—Sit down or by the law Harry I’ll knock you down.
Walter squints vainly for a chair.
—He has nothing to sit down on, sir.
—He has nowhere to put it, you mug. Bring in our chippendale chair. Would you like a bite of something? None of your damned lawdeedaw airs here. The rich of a rasher fried with a herring? Sure? So much the better. We have nothing in the house but backache pills.
He drones bars of Ferrando’s aria di sortita. The grandest number, Stephen, in the whole opera. Listen.
His tuneful whistle sounds again, finely shaded, with rushes of the air, his fists bigdrumming on his padded knees.
This wind is sweeter.
Houses of decay, mine, his and all. You told the Clongowes gentry you had an uncle a judge and an uncle a general in the army. Come out of them, Stephen. Beauty is not there. Nor in the stagnant bay of Marsh’s library where you read the fading prophecies of Joachim Abbas. For whom? The hundredheaded rabble of the cathedral close. A hater of his kind ran from them to the wood of madness, his mane foaming in the moon, his eyeballs stars. Houyhnhnm, horsenostrilled. The oval equine faces, Temple, Buck Mulligan, Foxy Campbell, Lanternjaws. Abbas father, furious dean, what offence laid fire to their brains? Paff! Descende, calve, ut ne nimium decalveris. A garland of grey hair on his comminated head see him me clambering down to the footpace (descende!), clutching a monstrance, basiliskeyed. Get down, baldpoll! A choir gives back menace and echo, assisting about the altar’s horns, the snorted Latin of jackpriests moving burly in their albs, tonsured and oiled and gelded, fat with the fat of kidneys of wheat.
And at the same instant perhaps a priest round the corner is elevating it. Dringdring! And two streets off another locking it into a pyx. Dringadring! And in a ladychapel another taking housel all to his own cheek. Dringdring! Down, up, forward, back. Dan Occam thought of that, invincible doctor. A misty English morning the imp hypostasis tickled his brain. Bringing his host down and kneeling he heard twine with his second bell the first bell in the transept (he is lifting his) and, rising, heard (now I am lifting) their two bells (he is kneeling) twang in diphthong.
Cousin Stephen, you will never be a saint. Isle of saints. You were awfully holy, weren’t you? You prayed to the Blessed Virgin that you might not have a red nose. You prayed to the devil in Serpentine avenue that the fubsy widow in front might lift her clothes still more from the wet street. O si, certo! Sell your soul for that, do, dyed rags pinned round a squaw. More tell me, more still! On the top of the Howth tram alone crying to the rain: Naked women! Naked women! What about that, eh?
What about what? What else were they invented for?
Reading two pages apiece of seven books every night, eh? I was young. You bowed to yourself in the mirror, stepping forward to applause earnestly, striking face. Hurray for the Goddamned idiot! Hray! No-one saw: tell no-one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W. Remember your epiphanies written on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria? Someone was to read them there after a few thousand years, a mahamanvantara. Pico della Mirandola like. Ay, very like a whale. When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once...
The grainy sand had gone from under his feet. His boots trod again a damp crackling mast, razorshells, squeaking pebbles,
that on the unnumbered pebbles beats, wood sieved by the shipworm, lost Armada.
Unwholesome sandflats waited to suck his treading soles, breathing upward sewage breath,
a pocket of seaweed smouldered in seafire under a midden of man’s ashes.
He coasted them, walking warily. A porterbottle stood up, stogged to its waist, in the cakey sand dough.
A sentinel: isle of dreadful thirst. Broken hoops on the shore; at the land a maze of dark cunning nets; farther away chalkscrawled backdoors and on the higher beach a dryingline with two crucified shirts. Ringsend: wigwams of brown steersmen and master mariners. Human shells.
I have passed the way to aunt Sara’s. Am I not going there? Seems not. No-one about. He turned northeast and crossed the firmer sand towards the Pigeonhouse.
—Qui vous a mis dans cette fichue position
—C’est le pigeon, Joseph.
Patrice, home on furlough, lapped warm milk with me in the bar MacMahon. Son of the wild goose, Kevin Egan of Paris. My father’s a bird, he lapped the sweet lait chaud with pink young tongue, plump bunny’s face. Lap, lapin. He hopes to win in the gros lots. About the nature of women he read in Michelet. But he must send me La Vie de Jésus by M. Léo Taxil. Lent it to his friend.
—C’est tordant, vous savez. Moi, je suis socialiste. Je ne crois pas en l’existence de Dieu. Faut pas le dire à mon père.
—Mon père, oui.
Schluss. He laps.
My Latin quarter hat. God, we simply must dress the character. I want puce gloves. You were a student, weren’t you? Of what in the other devil’s name? Paysayenn. P. C. N., you know: physiques, chimiques et naturelles. Aha. Eating your groatsworth of mou en civet, fleshpots of Egypt, elbowed by belching cabmen. Just say in the most natural tone: when I was in Paris; boul’ Mich’, I used to. Yes, used to carry punched tickets to prove an alibi if they arrested you for murder somewhere. Justice. On the night of the seventeenth of February 1904 the prisoner was seen by two witnesses. Other fellow did it: other me. Hat, tie, overcoat, nose. Lui, c’est moi. You seem to have enjoyed yourself.
Proudly walking. Whom were you trying to walk like? Forget: a dispossessed. With mother’s money order, eight shillings, the banging door of the post office slammed in your face by the usher. Hunger toothache. Encore deux minutes. Look clock. Must get. Fermé. Hired dog! Shoot him to bloody bits with a bang shotgun, bits man spattered walls all brass buttons. Bits all khrrrrklak in place clack back. Not hurt? O, that’s all right. Shake hands. See what I meant, see? O, that’s all right. Shake a shake. O, that’s all only all right.
You were going to do wonders, what? Missionary to Europe after fiery Columbanus. Fiacre and Scotus on their creepystools in heaven spilt from their pintpots, loudlatinlaughing: Euge! Euge! Pretending to speak broken English as you dragged your valise, porter threepence, across the slimy pier at Newhaven. Comment? Rich booty you brought back; Le Tutu, five tattered numbers of Pantalon Blanc et Culotte Rouge; a blue French telegram, curiosity to show:
—Mother dying come home father.
The aunt thinks you killed your mother. That’s why she won’t.
Then here’s a health to Mulligan’s aunt
And I’ll tell you the reason why.
She always kept things decent in
The Hannigan famileye.
His feet marched in sudden proud rhythm over the sand furrows, along by the boulders of the south wall. He stared at them proudly,
piled stone mammoth skulls. Gold light on sea, on sand, on boulders. The sun is there, the slender trees, the lemon houses.
Paris rawly waking, crude sunlight on her lemon streets. Moist pith of farls of bread, the froggreen wormwood, her matin incense, court the air. Belluomo rises from the bed of his wife’s lover’s wife, the kerchiefed housewife is astir, a saucer of acetic acid in her hand. In Rodot’s Yvonne and Madeleine newmake their tumbled beauties, shattering with gold teeth chaussons of pastry, their mouths yellowed with the pus of flan bréton. Faces of Paris men go by, their wellpleased pleasers, curled conquistadores.
Noon slumbers. Kevin Egan rolls gunpowder cigarettes through fingers smeared with printer’s ink, sipping his green fairy as Patrice his white. About us gobblers fork spiced beans down their gullets. Un demi sétier! A jet of coffee steam from the burnished caldron. She serves me at his beck. Il est irlandais. Hollandais? Non fromage. Deux irlandais, nous, Irlande, vous savez ah, oui! She thought you wanted a cheese hollandais. Your postprandial, do you know that word? Postprandial. There was a fellow I knew once in Barcelona, queer fellow, used to call it his postprandial. Well: slainte! Around the slabbed tables the tangle of wined breaths and grumbling gorges. His breath hangs over our saucestained plates, the green fairy’s fang thrusting between his lips. Of Ireland, the Dalcassians, of hopes, conspiracies, of Arthur Griffith now, A E, pimander, good shepherd of men. To yoke me as his yokefellow, our crimes our common cause. You’re your father’s son. I know the voice. His fustian shirt, sanguineflowered, trembles its Spanish tassels at his secrets. M. Drumont, famous journalist, Drumont, know what he called queen Victoria? Old hag with the yellow teeth. Vieille ogresse with the dents jaunes. Maud Gonne, beautiful woman, La Patrie, M. Millevoye, Félix Faure, know how he died? Licentious men. The froeken, bonne à tout faire, who rubs male nakedness in the bath at Upsala. Moi faire, she said, Tous les messieurs. Not this Monsieur, I said. Most licentious custom. Bath a most private thing. I wouldn’t let my brother, not even my own brother, most lascivious thing. Green eyes, I see you. Fang, I feel. Lascivious people.
The blue fuse burns deadly between hands and burns clear. Loose tobaccoshreds catch fire: a flame and acrid smoke light our corner. Raw facebones under his peep of day boy’s hat. How the head centre got away, authentic version. Got up as a young bride, man, veil, orangeblossoms, drove out the road to Malahide. Did, faith. Of lost leaders, the betrayed, wild escapes. Disguises, clutched at, gone, not here.
Spurned lover. I was a strapping young gossoon at that time, I tell you. I’ll show you my likeness one day. I was, faith. Lover, for her love he prowled with colonel Richard Burke, tanist of his sept, under the walls of Clerkenwell and, crouching, saw a flame of vengeance hurl them upward in the fog. Shattered glass and toppling masonry. In gay Paree he hides, Egan of Paris, unsought by any save by me. Making his day’s stations, the dingy printingcase, his three taverns, the Montmartre lair he sleeps short night in, rue de la Goutte-d’Or, damascened with flyblown faces of the gone. Loveless, landless, wifeless. She is quite nicey comfy without her outcast man, madame in rue Gît-le-Cœur, canary and two buck lodgers. Peachy cheeks, a zebra skirt, frisky as a young thing’s. Spurned and undespairing. Tell Pat you saw me, won’t you? I wanted to get poor Pat a job one time. Mon fils, soldier of France. I taught him to sing The boys of Kilkenny are stout roaring blades. Know that old lay? I taught Patrice that. Old Kilkenny: saint Canice, Strongbow’s castle on the Nore. Goes like this. O, O. He takes me, Napper Tandy, by the hand.
O, O the boys of
Weak wasting hand on mine. They have forgotten Kevin Egan, not he them. Remembering thee, O Sion.
He had come nearer the edge of the sea and wet sand slapped his boots. The new air greeted him, harping in wild nerves, wind of wild air of seeds of brightness.
Here, I am not walking out to the Kish lightship, am I?
He stood suddenly, his feet beginning to sink slowly in the quaking soil.
Turning, he scanned the shore south, his feet sinking again slowly in new sockets. The cold domed room of the tower waits. Through the barbacans the shafts of light are moving ever, slowly ever as my feet are sinking, creeping duskward over the dial floor. Blue dusk, nightfall, deep blue night. In the darkness of the dome they wait, their pushedback chairs, my obelisk valise, around a board of abandoned platters. Who to clear it? He has the key. I will not sleep there when this night comes. A shut door of a silent tower, entombing their blind bodies, the panthersahib and his pointer. Call: no answer.
He lifted his feet up from the suck and turned back by the mole of boulders.
Take all, keep all. My soul walks with me, form of forms. So in the moon’s midwatches I pace the path above the rocks, in sable silvered, hearing Elsinore’s tempting flood.
The flood is following me. I can watch it flow past from here. Get back then by the Poolbeg road to the strand there.
He climbed over the sedge and eely oarweeds and sat on a stool of rock, resting his ashplant in a grike.
A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack. Before him the gunwale of a boat, sunk in sand. Un coche ensabléLouis Veuillot called Gautier’s prose. These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here. And these, the stoneheaps of dead builders, a warren of weasel rats. Hide gold there. Try it. You have some. Sands and stones. Heavy of the past. Sir Lout’s toys. Mind you don’t get one bang on the ear. I’m the bloody well gigant rolls all them bloody well boulders, bones for my steppingstones. Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloodz odz an Iridzman.
A point, live dog, grew into sight running across the sweep of sand.
Lord, is he going to attack me? Respect his liberty. You will not be master of others or their slave. I have my stick. Sit tight. From farther away, walking shoreward across from the crested tide, figures, two. The two maries. They have tucked it safe mong the bulrushes. Peekaboo. I see you. No, the dog. He is running back to them. Who?
Galleys of the Lochlanns ran here to beach, in quest of prey, their bloodbeaked prows riding low on a molten pewter surf. Dane vikings, torcs of tomahawks aglitter on their breasts when Malachi wore the collar of gold. A school of turlehide whales stranded in hot noon, spouting, hobbling in the shallows. Then from the starving cagework city a horde of jerkined dwarfs, my people, with flayers’ knives, running, scaling, hacking in green blubbery whalemeat. Famine, plague and slaughters. Their blood is in me, their lusts my waves. I moved among them on the frozen Liffey, that I, a changeling, among the spluttering resin fires. I spoke to no-one: none to me.
The dog’s bark ran towards him, stopped, ran back.
Dog of my enemy. I just simply stood pale, silent, bayed about. Terribilia meditans. A primrose doublet, fortune’s knave, smiled on my fear. For that are you pining, the bark of their applause? Pretenders: live their lives. The Bruce’s brother, Thomas Fitzgerald, silken knight, Perkin Warbeck, York’s false scion, in breeches of silk of whiterose ivory, wonder of a day, and Lambert Simnel, with a tail of nans and sutlers, a scullion crowned. All kings’ sons. Paradise of pretenders then and now. He saved men from drowning and you shake at a cur’s yelping. But the courtiers who mocked Guido in Or san Michele were in their own house. House of... We don’t want any of your medieval abstrusiosities. Would you do what he did? A boat would be near, a lifebuoy. Natürlich, put there for you. Would you or would you not? The man that was drowned nine days ago off Maiden’s rock. They are waiting for him now. The truth, spit it out. I would want to. I would try. I am not a strong swimmer. Water cold soft. When I put my face into it in the basin at Clongowes. Can’t see! Who’s behind me? Out quickly, quickly! Do you see the tide flowing quickly in on all sides, sheeting the lows of sand quickly, shellcocoacoloured? If I had land under my feet. I want his life still to be his, mine to be mine. A drowning man. His human eyes scream to me out of horror of his death. I... With him together down... I could not save her. Waters: bitter death: lost.
A woman and a man. I see her skirties. Pinned up, I bet.
Their dog ambled about a bank of dwindling sand, trotting, sniffing on all sides.
Looking for something lost in a past life.
Suddenly he made off like a bounding hare, ears flung back, chasing the shadow of a lowskimming gull. The man’s shrieked whistle struck his limp ears. He turned, bounded back, came nearer, trotted on twinkling shanks.
On a field tenney a buck, trippant, proper, unattired.
At the lacefringe of the tide he halted with stiff forehoofs, seawardpointed ears. His snout lifted barked at the wavenoise, herds of seamorse. They serpented towards his feet, curling, unfurling many crests, every ninth, breaking, plashing, from far, from farther out, waves and waves.
They waded a little way in the water and, stooping, soused their bags and, lifting them again, waded out. The dog yelped running to them, reared up and pawed them, dropping on all fours, again reared up at them with mute bearish fawning. Unheeded he kept by them as they came towards the drier sand, a rag of wolf’s tongue redpanting from his jaws. His speckled body ambled ahead of them and then loped off at a calf’s gallop. The carcass lay on his path. He stopped, sniffed, stalked round it, brother, nosing closer, went round it, sniffling rapidly like a dog all over the dead dog’s bedraggled fell.
Dogskull, dogsniff, eyes on the ground, moves to one great goal. Ah, poor dogsbody! Here lies poor dogsbody’s body.
—Tatters! Out of that, you mongrel!
The cry brought him skulking back to his master and a blunt bootless kick sent him unscathed across a spit of sand, crouched in flight. He slunk back in a curve.
Doesn’t see me.
Along by the edge of the mole he lolloped, dawdled, smelt a rock and from under a cocked hindleg pissed against it. He trotted forward and, lifting again his hindleg, pissed quick short at an unsmelt rock.
The simple pleasures of the poor.
His hindpaws then scattered the sand: then his forepaws dabbled and delved.
Something he buried there, his grandmother. He rooted in the sand, dabbling, delving and stopped to listen to the air, scraped up the sand again with a fury of his claws, soon ceasing, a pard, a panther, got in spousebreach, vulturing the dead.
After he woke me last night same dream or was it? Wait. Open hallway. Street of harlots. Remember. Haroun al Raschid. I am almosting it. That man led me, spoke. I was not afraid. The melon he had he held against my face. Smiled: creamfruit smell. That was the rule, said. In. Come. Red carpet spread. You will see who.
Shouldering their bags they trudged, the red Egyptians. His blued feet out of turnedup trousers slapped the clammy sand, a dull brick muffler strangling his unshaven neck. With woman steps she followed: the ruffian and his strolling mort. Spoils slung at her back. Loose sand and shellgrit crusted her bare feet. About her windraw face hair trailed. Behind her lord, his helpmate, bing awast to Romeville. When night hides her body’s flaws calling under her brown shawl from an archway where dogs have mired. Her fancyman is treating two Royal Dublins in O’Loughlin’s of Blackpitts. Buss her, wap in rogues’ rum lingo, for, O, my dimber wapping dell! A shefiend’s whiteness under her rancid rags. Fumbally’s lane that night: the tanyard smells.
White thy fambles, red thy gan
And thy quarrons dainty is.
Couch a hogshead with me then.
In the darkmans clip and kiss.
Morose delectation Aquinas tunbelly calls this, frate porcospino. Unfallen Adam rode and not rutted. Call away let him: thy quarrons dainty is. Language no whit worse than his. Monkwords, marybeads jabber on their girdles: roguewords, tough nuggets patter in their pockets.
A side eye at my Hamlet hat. If I were suddenly naked here as I sit? I am not. Across the sands of all the world, followed by the sun’s flaming sword, to the west, trekking to evening lands. She trudges, schlepps, trains, drags, trascines her load. A tide westering, moondrawn, in her wake. Tides, myriadislanded, within her, blood not mine, oinopa ponton, a winedark sea. Behold the handmaid of the moon. In sleep the wet sign calls her hour, bids her rise. Bridebed, childbed, bed of death, ghostcandled. Omnis caro ad te veniet. He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss.
Here. Put a pin in that chap, will you? My tablets. Mouth to her kiss. No. Must be two of em. Glue em well. Mouth to her mouth’s kiss.
His lips lipped and mouthed fleshless lips of air:
mouth to her moomb. Oomb, allwombing tomb.
His mouth moulded issuing breath, unspeeched:
ooeeehah: roar of cataractic planets, globed, blazing, roaring wayawayawayawayaway. Paper. The banknotes, blast them. Old Deasy’s letter. Here. Thanking you for the hospitality tear the blank end off.
Turning his back to the sun he bent over far to a table of rock and scribbled words.
That’s twice I forgot to take slips from the library counter.
His shadow lay over the rocks as he bent, ending.
Why not endless till the farthest star? Darkly they are there behind this light, darkness shining in the brightness, delta of Cassiopeia, worlds. Me sits there with his augur’s rod of ash, in borrowed sandals, by day beside a livid sea, unbeheld, in violet night walking beneath a reign of uncouth stars. I throw this ended shadow from me, manshape ineluctable, call it back. Endless, would it be mine, form of my form? Who watches me here? Who ever anywhere will read these written words? Signs on a white field. Somewhere to someone in your flutiest voice. The good bishop of Cloyne took the veil of the temple out of his shovel hat: veil of space with coloured emblems hatched on its field. Hold hard. Coloured on a flat: yes, that’s right. Flat I see, then think distance, near, far, flat I see, east, back. Ah, see now! Falls back suddenly, frozen in stereoscope. Click does the trick. You find my words dark. Darkness is in our souls do you not think? Flutier. Our souls, shamewounded by our sins, cling to us yet more, a woman to her lover clinging, the more the more.
She trusts me, her hand gentle, the longlashed eyes. Now where the blue hell am I bringing her beyond the veil? Into the ineluctable modality of the ineluctable visuality. She, she, she. What she? The virgin at Hodges Figgis’ window on Monday looking in for one of the alphabet books you were going to write. Keen glance you gave her. Wrist through the braided jesse of her sunshade. She lives in Leeson park with a grief and kickshaws, a lady of letters. Talk that to someone else, Stevie: a pickmeup. Bet she wears those curse of God stays suspenders and yellow stockings, darned with lumpy wool. Talk about apple dumplings, piuttosto. Where are your wits?
Touch me. Soft eyes. Soft soft soft hand. I am lonely here. O, touch me soon, now. What is that word known to all men? I am quiet here alone. Sad too. Touch, touch me.
He lay back at full stretch over the sharp rocks, cramming the scribbled note and pencil into a pocket, his hat tilted down on his eyes.
That is Kevin Egan’s movement I made, nodding for his nap, sabbath sleep. Et vidit Deus. Et erant valde bona. Alo! Bonjour. Welcome as the flowers in May. Under its leaf he watched through peacocktwittering lashes the southing sun. I am caught in this burning scene. Pan’s hour, the faunal noon. Among gumheavy serpentplants, milkoozing fruits, where on the tawny waters leaves lie wide. Pain is far.
And no more turn aside and brood.
His gaze brooded on his broadtoed boots,
a buck’s castoffs, nebeneinander.
He counted the creases of rucked leather
wherein another’s foot had nested warm.
The foot that beat the ground in tripudium, foot I dislove. But you were delighted when Esther Osvalt’s shoe went on you: girl I knew in Paris. Tiens, quel petit pied! Staunch friend, a brother soul: Wilde’s love that dare not speak its name. His arm: Cranly’s arm. He now will leave me. And the blame? As I am. As I am. All or not at all.
In long lassoes from the Cock lake the water flowed full, covering greengoldenly lagoons of sand, rising, flowing.
My ashplant will float away. I shall wait. No, they will pass on, passing, chafing against the low rocks, swirling, passing. Better get this job over quick. Listen: a fourworded wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses, rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. It flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling.
Under the upswelling tide he saw the writhing weeds lift languidly and sway reluctant arms,
hising up their petticoats, in whispering water swaying and upturning coy silver fronds. Day by day: night by night: lifted, flooded and let fall. Lord, they are weary; and, whispered to, they sigh. Saint Ambrose heard it, sigh of leaves and waves, waiting, awaiting the fullness of their times, diebus ac noctibus iniurias patiens ingemiscit. To no end gathered; vainly then released, forthflowing, wending back: loom of the moon. Weary too in sight of lovers, lascivious men, a naked woman shining in her courts, she draws a toil of waters.
Five fathoms out there. Full fathom five thy father lies. At one, he said. Found drowned. High water at Dublin bar. Driving before it a loose drift of rubble, fanshoals of fishes, silly shells. A corpse rising saltwhite from the undertow, bobbing a pace a pace a porpoise landward. There he is. Hook it quick. Pull. Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor. We have him. Easy now.
Bag of corpsegas sopping in foul brine. A quiver of minnows, fat of a spongy titbit, flash through the slits of his buttoned trouserfly. God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes featherbed mountain. Dead breaths I living breathe, tread dead dust, devour a urinous offal from all dead. Hauled stark over the gunwale he breathes upward the stench of his green grave, his leprous nosehole snoring to the sun.
A seachange this, brown eyes saltblue. Seadeath, mildest of all deaths known to man. Old Father Ocean. Prix de Paris: beware of imitations. Just you give it a fair trial. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Come. I thirst. Clouding over. No black clouds anywhere, are there? Thunderstorm. Allbright he falls, proud lightning of the intellect, Lucifer, dico, qui nescit occasum. No. My cockle hat and staff and hismy sandal shoon. Where? To evening lands. Evening will find itself.
He took the hilt of his ashplant, lunging with it softly, dallying still.
Yes, evening will find itself in me, without me. All days make their end. By the way next when is it Tuesday will be the longest day. Of all the glad new year, mother, the rum tum tiddledy tum. Lawn Tennyson, gentleman poet. Già. For the old hag with the yellow teeth. And Monsieur Drumont, gentleman journalist. Già. My teeth are very bad. Why, I wonder. Feel. That one is going too. Shells. Ought I go to a dentist, I wonder, with that money? That one. This. Toothless Kinch, the superman. Why is that, I wonder, or does it mean something perhaps?
My handkerchief. He threw it. I remember. Did I not take it up?
His hand groped vainly in his pockets.
No, I didn’t. Better buy one.
He laid the dry snot picked from his nostril on a ledge of rock, carefully.
For the rest let look who will.
Behind. Perhaps there is someone.
He turned his face over a shoulder, rere regardant. Moving through the air high spars of a threemaster, her sails brailed up on the crosstrees, homing, upstream, silently moving, a silent ship.