[ 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 now. There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world
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
Airs romped round him, nipping and eager airs. They are coming, waves.
The whitemaned seahorses, champing, brightwindbridled, the steeds of
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
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
—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
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.
He halted. 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
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
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. Turn back.
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
A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack. Before him the
gunwale of a boat, sunk in sand. Un coche ensablé Louis 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
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.
Cocklepickers. 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
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
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
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.
— II —