James Joyce

James Joyce (1882-1941):
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)


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 watchman going about serene with his lamp
and O that awful deepdown torrent
O and the sea the sea crimson
sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets
and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes
and all the queer little streets
and the pink and blue and yellow houses
and the rosegardens and the jessamine
and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar
as a girl where I was a Flower
of the mountain yes
when I put the rose in my hair
like the Andalusian girls used
or shall I wear a red yes
and how he kissed me
under the Moorish wall
and I thought well
as well him as another
and then I asked him
with my eyes to ask again yes
and then he asked me would I yes
to say yes my mountain flower
and first I put my arms around
him yes and drew him down to me
so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.

James Joyce (1882-1941),
     Ulysses, (1st edition, 1922)
     Random House, New York (1946), p. 139 & p. 768

The James Joyce Centre
     (About Us, Cafe Ulysses, Newsletter, Biography, Works)
James Joyce: The Brazen Head
     (News, Biography, Works, Quotes, Reviews, Criticism, Papers)
Time Magazine's 100: James Joyce
     (Biography, Time Covers: Jan. 29, 1934; May 8, 1939)
James Joyce: Poetry on Peace
     (Chamber Music, I, III, XIV, XXXIV)
James Joyce (1882-1941)
     (Biography, Further Reading, Selected Works)
Online Text of James Joyce's Ulysses
     (Biography, Major works, About Lorca, References, Links)
Finnegans Web
     (Online Text of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake)
Wikipedia: James Joyce
     (Life & Writing, Major Works, Legacy, Notes, References)
James Joyce: Ecce Puer
     ("Of the dark past / A child is born;")

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email: (3-23-2007)