Selections from Ulysses (1922)
James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) is considered the greatest novel of the 20th century. I did not read the book in its entirety, but did memorize the concluding lines because it read like beautiful poetry. I've arranged Molly Bloom's stream of consciousness reverie with my line breaks as though it was a poem. I love all the colors blooming with the sunsets, and the resounding erotic ending "and yes I said yes I will Yes." with the period as the only punctuation in the entire final chapter. The other selection "A Man of High Morale" from Chapter 7 is not as poetic as Molly Bloom's soliloquy, but has deep philosophical impact in Joyce's spiritual development. The "hermetic crowd" and "Blavatsky woman" refer to the Hermetic Society and Theosophical Society in Dublin that Yeats was a member. According to Stanislaus Joyce's My Brother's Keeper (1958), James Joyce read their literature, but never joined either society. A.E. (George William Russell) (1867-1935) was an Irish poet, painter, and mystic. When the 19-year old Joyce knocked on A.E.'s door at midnight (circa 1901) to ask "What is the highest state of consciousness?", the 34-year old mystic welcomed him and talked "about the spirit world until the small hours of the morning." Finding this autobiographical episode of Joyce in Ulysses was like discovering a gem to me. Later I found dozens of allusions to saints, sages, and mystics in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake much to my delight. That night with A.E. must have given Joyce a rock of spiritual grounding. During his mother's dying, the priest tried to get the two Joyce brothers to convert to Catholicism to no avail. When his mother died on August 13, 1903, the whole family knelt at the deathbed to pray in a loud voice. Seeing that James and Stanslaus were not praying, "Uncle John made an angry, preemptory gesture to us to kneel down. Neither of us paid any attention to him; yet even so the scene seems to have burnt itself into my brother's soul." What unflinching courage for James Joyce, a young man of 21, to hold on to his beliefs amidst such family intimidations! This is why I admire Joyce so much and am sharing this story in my Poetry Anthology. (Peter Y. Chou)
A MAN OF HIGH MORALE
Professor Magennis was speaking to me about you,
J.J. O'Molloy said to Stephen.
What do you think really of that hermetic crowd,
the opal hush poets: A. E. the mastermystic?
That Blavatsky woman started it.
She was a nice old bag of tricks.
A. E. has been telling some yankee interviewer
that you came to him in the small hours
of the morning to ask him
about planes of consciousness.
Magennis thinks you must
have been pulling A. E.'s leg.
He is a man of the very highest morale, Magennis.
The Ending of Ulysses
The James Joyce Centre
| © Peter Y. Chou, WisdomPortal.com
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039