A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Part 4 out of 5
the vague acts of the priesthood which pleased him by reason of
their semblance of reality and of their distance from it. In that
dim life which he had lived through in his musings he had
assumed the voices and gestures which he had noted with various
priests. He had bent his knee sideways like such a one, he had
shaken the thurible only slightly like such a one, his chasuble had
swung open like that of such another as he turned to the altar again
after having blessed the people. And above all it had pleased him to
fill the second place in those dim scenes of his imagining. He shrank
from the dignity of celebrant because it displeased him to imagine that
all the vague pomp should end in his own person or that the ritual
should assign to him so clear and final an office. He longed for the
minor sacred offices, to be vested with the tunicle of subdeacon at
high mass, to stand aloof from the altar, forgotten by the people, his
shoulders covered with a humeral veil, holding the paten within its
folds or, when the sacrifice had been accomplished, to stand as deacon
in a dalmatic of cloth of gold on the step below the celebrant, his
hands joined and his face towards the people, and sing the chant ITE
MISSA EST. If ever he had seen himself celebrant it was as in the
pictures of the mass in his child's massbook, in a church without
worshippers, save for the angel of the sacrifice, at a bare altar, and
served by an acolyte scarcely more boyish than himself. In vague
sacrificial or sacramental acts alone his will seemed drawn to go forth
to encounter reality; and it was partly the absence of an appointed
rite which had always constrained him to inaction whether he had
allowed silence to cover his anger or pride or had suffered only an
embrace he longed to give.
He listened in reverent silence now to the priest's appeal and through
the words he heard even more distinctly a voice bidding him approach,
offering him secret knowledge and secret power. He would know then what
was the sin of Simon Magus and what the sin against the Holy Ghost for
which there was no forgiveness. He would know obscure things, hidden
from others, from those who were conceived and born children of wrath.
He would know the sins, the sinful longings and sinful thoughts and
sinful acts, of others, hearing them murmured into his ears in the
confessional under the shame of a darkened chapel by the lips of women
and of girls; but rendered immune mysteriously at his ordination by the
imposition of hands, his soul would pass again uncontaminated to the
white peace of the altar. No touch of sin would linger upon the hands
with which he would elevate and break the host; no touch of sin would
linger on his lips in prayer to make him eat and drink damnation to
himself not discerning the body of the Lord. He would hold his secret
knowledge and secret power, being as sinless as the innocent, and he
would be a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec.
--I will offer up my mass tomorrow morning, said the director, that
Almighty God may reveal to you His holy will. And let you, Stephen,
make a novena to your holy patron saint, the first martyr, who is very
powerful with God, that God may enlighten your mind. But you must be
quite sure, Stephen, that you have a vocation because it would be
terrible if you found afterwards that you had none. Once a priest
always a priest, remember. Your catechism tells you that the sacrament
of Holy Orders is one of those which can be received only once because
it imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark which can never be
effaced. It is before you must weigh well, not after. It is a solemn
question, Stephen, because on it may depend the salvation of your
eternal soul. But we will pray to God together.
He held open the heavy hall door and gave his hand as if already to a
companion in the spiritual life. Stephen passed out on to the wide
platform above the steps and was conscious of the caress of mild
evening air. Towards Findlater's church a quartet of young men were
striding along with linked arms, swaying their heads and stepping to
the agile melody of their leader's concertina. The music passed in an
instant, as the first bars of sudden music always did, over the
fantastic fabrics of his mind, dissolving them painlessly and
noiselessly as a sudden wave dissolves the sand-built turrets of
children. Smiling at the trivial air he raised his eyes to the priest's
face and, seeing in it a mirthless reflection of the sunken day,
detached his hand slowly which had acquiesced faintly in the
As he descended the steps the impression which effaced his troubled
self-communion was that of a mirthless mask reflecting a sunken day
from the threshold of the college. The shadow, then, of the life of the
college passed gravely over his consciousness. It was a grave and
ordered and passionless life that awaited him, a life without material
cares. He wondered how he would pass the first night in the novitiate
and with what dismay he would wake the first morning in the dormitory.
The troubling odour of the long corridors of Clongowes came back to him
and he heard the discreet murmur of the burning gasflames. At once from
every part of his being unrest began to irradiate. A feverish
quickening of his pulses followed, and a din of meaningless words drove
his reasoned thoughts hither and thither confusedly. His lungs dilated
and sank as if he were inhaling a warm moist unsustaining air and he
smelt again the moist warm air which hung in the bath in Clongowes
above the sluggish turf-coloured water.
Some instinct, waking at these memories, stronger than education or
piety, quickened within him at every near approach to that life, an
instinct subtle and hostile, and armed him against acquiescence. The
chill and order of the life repelled him. He saw himself rising in the
cold of the morning and filing down with the others to early mass and
trying vainly to struggle with his prayers against the fainting
sickness of his stomach. He saw himself sitting at dinner with the
community of a college. What, then, had become of that deep-rooted
shyness of his which had made him loth to eat or drink under a strange
roof? What had come of the pride of his spirit which had always made
him conceive himself as a being apart in every order?
The Reverend Stephen Dedalus, S.J.
His name in that new life leaped into characters before his eyes and to
it there followed a mental sensation of an undefined face or colour of
a face. The colour faded and became strong like a changing glow of
pallid brick red. Was it the raw reddish glow he had so often seen on
wintry mornings on the shaven gills of the priests? The face was
eyeless and sour-favoured and devout, shot with pink tinges of
suffocated anger. Was it not a mental spectre of the face of one of the
jesuits whom some of the boys called Lantern Jaws and others Foxy
He was passing at that moment before the jesuit house in Gardiner
Street and wondered vaguely which window would be his if he ever joined
the order. Then he wondered at the vagueness of his wonder, at the
remoteness of his own soul from what he had hitherto imagined her
sanctuary, at the frail hold which so many years of order and obedience
had of him when once a definite and irrevocable act of his threatened
to end for ever, in time and in eternity, his freedom. The voice of the
director urging upon him the proud claims of the church and the mystery
and power of the priestly office repeated itself idly in his memory.
His soul was not there to hear and greet it and he knew now that the
exhortation he had listened to had already fallen into an idle formal
tale. He would never swing the thurible before the tabernacle as priest.
His destiny was to be elusive of social or religious orders. The wisdom of
the priest's appeal did not touch him to the quick. He was destined to
learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others
himself wandering among the snares of the world.
The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not
yet fallen but he would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was
too hard, too hard; and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it
would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen,
still unfallen, but about to fall.
He crossed the bridge over the stream of the Tolka and turned his eyes
coldly for an instant towards the faded blue shrine of the Blessed
Virgin which stood fowl-wise on a pole in the middle of a ham-shaped
encampment of poor cottages. Then, bending to the left, he followed the
lane which led up to his house. The faint Sour stink of rotted cabbages
came towards him from the kitchen gardens on the rising ground above
the river. He smiled to think that it was this disorder, the misrule
and confusion of his father's house and the stagnation of vegetable
life, which was to win the day in his soul. Then a short laugh broke
from his lips as he thought of that solitary farmhand in the kitchen
gardens behind their house whom they had nicknamed the man with the
hat. A second laugh, taking rise from the first after a pause, broke
from him involuntarily as he thought of how the man with the hat
worked, considering in turn the four points of the sky and then
regretfully plunging his spade in the earth.
He pushed open the latchless door of the porch and passed through the
naked hallway into the kitchen. A group of his brothers and sisters was
sitting round the table. Tea was nearly over and only the last of the
second watered tea remained in the bottoms of the small glass jars and
jampots which did service for teacups. Discarded crusts and lumps of
sugared bread, turned brown by the tea which had been poured over them,
lay scattered on the table. Little wells of tea lay here and there on
the board, and a knife with a broken ivory handle was stuck through the
pith of a ravaged turnover.
The sad quiet grey-blue glow of the dying day came through the window
and the open door, covering over and allaying quietly a sudden instinct
of remorse in Stephen's heart. All that had been denied them had been
freely given to him, the eldest; but the quiet glow of evening showed
him in their faces no sign of rancour.
He sat near them at the table and asked where his father and mother
were. One answered:
--Goneboro toboro lookboro atboro aboro houseboro.
Still another removal! A boy named Fallon in Belvedere had often asked
him with a silly laugh why they moved so often. A frown of scorn
darkened quickly his forehead as he heard again the silly laugh of the
--Why are we on the move again if it's a fair question?
--Becauseboro theboro landboro lordboro willboro putboro usboro outboro.
The voice of his youngest brother from the farther side of the
fireplace began to sing the air OFT IN THE STILLY NIGHT. One by one the
others took up the air until a full choir of voices was singing. They
would sing so for hours, melody after melody, glee after glee, till the
last pale light died down on the horizon, till the first dark night
clouds came forth and night fell.
He waited for some moments, listening, before he too took up the air
with them. He was listening with pain of spirit to the overtone of
weariness behind their frail fresh innocent voices. Even before they
set out on life's journey they seemed weary already of the way.
He heard the choir of voices in the kitchen echoed and multiplied
through an endless reverberation of the choirs of endless generations
of children and heard in all the echoes an echo also of the recurring
note of weariness and pain. All seemed weary of life even before
entering upon it. And he remembered that Newman had heard this note
also in the broken lines of Virgil, GIVING UTTERANCE, LIKE THE VOICE OF
NATURE HERSELF, TO THAT PAIN AND WEARINESS YET HOPE OF BETTER THINGS
WHICH HAS BEEN THE EXPERIENCE OF HER CHILDREN IN EVERY TIME.
* * * * *
He could wait no longer.
From the door of Byron's public-house to the gate of Clontarf Chapel,
from the gate of Clontail Chapel to the door of Byron's public-house
and then back again to the chapel and then back again to the public-
house he had paced slowly at first, planting his steps scrupulously in
the spaces of the patchwork of the footpath, then timing their fall to
the fall of verses. A full hour had passed since his father had gone in
with Dan Crosby, the tutor, to find out for him something about the
university. For a full hour he had paced up and down, waiting: but he
could wait no longer.
He set off abruptly for the Bull, walking rapidly lest his father's
shrill whistle might call him back; and in a few moments he had rounded
the curve at the police barrack and was safe.
Yes, his mother was hostile to the idea, as he had read from her
listless silence. Yet her mistrust pricked him more keenly than his
father's pride and he thought coldly how he had watched the faith which
was fading down in his soul ageing and strengthening in her eyes. A dim
antagonism gathered force within him and darkened his mind as a cloud
against her disloyalty and when it passed, cloud-like, leaving his mind
serene and dutiful towards her again, he was made aware dimly and
without regret of a first noiseless sundering of their lives.
The university! So he had passed beyond the challenge of the sentries
who had stood as guardians of his boyhood and had sought to keep him
among them that he might be subject to them and serve their ends. Pride
after satisfaction uplifted him like long slow waves. The end he had
been born to serve yet did not see had led him to escape by an unseen
path and now it beckoned to him once more and a new adventure was about
to be opened to him. It seemed to him that he heard notes of fitful
music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a diminished fourth, upwards
a tone and downwards a major third, like triple-branching flames
leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood. It was an
elfin prelude, endless and formless; and, as it grew wilder and faster,
the flames leaping out of time, he seemed to hear from under the boughs
and grasses wild creatures racing, their feet pattering like rain upon
the leaves. Their feet passed in pattering tumult over his mind, the
feet of hares and rabbits, the feet of harts and hinds and antelopes,
until he heard them no more and remembered only a proud cadence from
--Whose feet are as the feet of harts and underneath the everlasting arms.
The pride of that dim image brought back to his mind the dignity of the
office he had refused. All through his boyhood he had mused upon that
which he had so often thought to be his destiny and when the moment had
come for him to obey the call he had turned aside, obeying a wayward
instinct. Now time lay between: the oils of ordination would never
anoint his body. He had refused. Why?
He turned seaward from the road at Dollymount and as he passed on to
the thin wooden bridge he felt the planks shaking with the tramp of
heavily shod feet. A squad of christian brothers was on its way back
from the Bull and had begun to pass, two by two, across the bridge.
Soon the whole bridge was trembling and resounding. The uncouth faces
passed him two by two, stained yellow or red or livid by the sea, and,
as he strove to look at them with ease and indifference, a faint stain
of personal shame and commiseration rose to his own face. Angry with
himself he tried to hide his face from their eyes by gazing down
sideways into the shallow swirling water under the bridge but he still
saw a reflection therein of their top-heavy silk hats and humble
tape-like collars and loosely-hanging clerical clothes.
Their piety would be like their names, like their faces, like their
clothes, and it was idle for him to tell himself that their humble and
contrite hearts, it might be, paid a far richer tribute of devotion
than his had ever been, a gift tenfold more acceptable than his
elaborate adoration. It was idle for him to move himself to be generous
towards them, to tell himself that if he ever came to their gates,
stripped of his pride, beaten and in beggar's weeds, that they would be
generous towards him, loving him as themselves. Idle and embittering,
finally, to argue, against his own dispassionate certitude, that the
commandment of love bade us not to love our neighbour as ourselves with
the same amount and intensity of love but to love him as ourselves with
the same kind of love.
He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to
--A day of dappled seaborne clouds.
The phrase and the day and the scene harmonized in a chord. Words. Was
it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue:
sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves,
the grey-fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was
the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the
rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of
legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy
of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing
sensible world through the prism of a language many-coloured and richly
storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual
emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?
He passed from the trembling bridge on to firm land again. At that
instant, as it seemed to him, the air was chilled and, looking askance
towards the water, he saw a flying squall darkening and crisping
suddenly the tide. A faint click at his heart, a faint throb in his
throat told him once more of how his flesh dreaded the cold infrahuman
odour of the sea; yet he did not strike across the downs on his left
but held straight on along the spine of rocks that pointed against the
A veiled sunlight lit up faintly the grey sheet of water where the
river was embayed. In the distance along the course of the slow-flowing
Liffey slender masts flecked the sky and, more distant still, the dim
fabric of the city lay prone in haze. Like a scene on some vague arras,
old as man's weariness, the image of the seventh city of christendom
was visible to him across the timeless air, no older nor more weary nor
less patient of subjection than in the days of the thingmote.
Disheartened, he raised his eyes towards the slow-drifting clouds,
dappled and seaborne. They were voyaging across the deserts of the sky,
a host of nomads on the march, voyaging high over Ireland, westward
bound. The Europe they had come from lay out there beyond the Irish
Sea, Europe of strange tongues and valleyed and woodbegirt and
citadelled and of entrenched and marshalled races. He heard a confused
music within him as of memories and names which he was almost conscious
of but could not capture even for an instant; then the music seemed to
recede, to recede, to recede, and from each receding trail of nebulous
music there fell always one longdrawn calling note, piercing like a
star the dusk of silence. Again! Again! Again! A voice from beyond the
world was calling.
--Here comes The Dedalus!
--Ao!... Eh, give it over, Dwyer, I'm telling you, or I'll give you a stuff
in the kisser for yourself... Ao!
--Good man, Towser! Duck him!
--Come along, Dedalus! Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforos!
--Duck him! Guzzle him now, Towser!
--Help! Help!... Ao!
He recognized their speech collectively before he distinguished their
faces. The mere sight of that medley of wet nakedness chilled him to
the bone. Their bodies, corpse-white or suffused with a pallid golden
light or rawly tanned by the sun, gleamed with the wet of the sea.
Their diving-stone, poised on its rude supports and rocking under their
plunges, and the rough-hewn stones of the sloping breakwater over which
they scrambled in their horseplay gleamed with cold wet lustre. The
towels with which they smacked their bodies were heavy with cold
seawater; and drenched with cold brine was their matted hair.
He stood still in deference to their calls and parried their banter
with easy words. How characterless they looked: Shuley without his deep
unbuttoned collar, Ennis without his scarlet belt with the snaky clasp,
and Connolly without his Norfolk coat with the flapless side-pockets!
It was a pain to see them, and a sword-like pain to see the signs of
adolescence that made repellent their pitiable nakedness. Perhaps they
had taken refuge in number and noise from the secret dread in their
souls. But he, apart from them and in silence, remembered in what dread
he stood of the mystery of his own body.
--Stephanos Dedalos! Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforos!
Their banter was not new to him and now it flattered his mild proud
sovereignty. Now, as never before, his strange name seemed to him a
prophecy. So timeless seemed the grey warm air, so fluid and impersonal
his own mood, that all ages were as one to him. A moment before the
ghost of the ancient kingdom of the Danes had looked forth through the
vesture of the hazewrapped City. Now, at the name of the fabulous
artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged
form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air. What did it
mean? Was it a quaint device opening a page of some medieval book of
prophecies and symbols, a hawk-like man flying sunward above the sea, a
prophecy of the end he had been born to serve and had been following
through the mists of childhood and boyhood, a symbol of the artist
forging anew in his workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a
new soaring impalpable imperishable being?
His heart trembled; his breath came faster and a wild spirit passed
over his limbs as though he was soaring sunward. His heart trembled in
an ecstasy of fear and his soul was in flight. His soul was soaring in
an air beyond the world and the body he knew was purified in a breath
and delivered of incertitude and made radiant and commingled with the
element of the spirit. An ecstasy of flight made radiant his eyes and
wild his breath and tremulous and wild and radiant his windswept limbs.
--One! Two!... Look out!
--Oh, Cripes, I'm drownded!
--One! Two! Three and away!
--The next! The next!
His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle
on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was
the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of
duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the
pale service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him
and the cry of triumph which his lips withheld cleft his brain.
What were they now but cerements shaken from the body of death--the
fear he had walked in night and day, the incertitude that had ringed
him round, the shame that had abased him within and without--
cerements, the linens of the grave?
His soul had arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her
grave-clothes. Yes! Yes! Yes! He would create proudly out of the
freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he
bore, a living thing, new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable,
He started up nervously from the stone-block for he could no longer
quench the flame in his blood. He felt his cheeks aflame and his throat
throbbing with song. There was a lust of wandering in his feet that
burned to set out for the ends of the earth. On! On! his heart seemed
to cry. Evening would deepen above the sea, night fall upon the plains,
dawn glimmer before the wanderer and show him strange fields and hills
and faces. Where?
He looked northward towards Howth. The sea had fallen below the line of
seawrack on the shallow side of the breakwater and already the tide was
running out fast along the foreshore. Already one long oval bank of
sand lay warm and dry amid the wavelets. Here and there warm isles of
sand gleamed above the shallow tide and about the isles and around the
long bank and amid the shallow currents of the beach were lightclad
figures, wading and delving.
In a few moments he was barefoot, his stockings folded in his pockets
and his canvas shoes dangling by their knotted laces over his shoulders
and, picking a pointed salt-eaten stick out of the jetsam among the
rocks, he clambered down the slope of the breakwater.
There was a long rivulet in the strand and, as he waded slowly up its
course, he wondered at the endless drift of seaweed. Emerald and black
and russet and olive, it moved beneath the current, swaying and
turning. The water of the rivulet was dark with endless drift and
mirrored the high-drifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him
silently and silently the seatangle was drifting below him and the grey
warm air was still and a new wild life was singing in his veins.
Where was his boyhood now? Where was the soul that had hung back from
her destiny, to brood alone upon the shame of her wounds and in her
house of squalor and subterfuge to queen it in faded cerements and in
wreaths that withered at the touch? Or where was he?
He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of
life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a
waste of wild air and brackish waters and the sea-harvest of shells and
tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of
children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.
A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to
sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a
strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate
as a crane's and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had
fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and
soft-hued as ivory, were bared almost to the hips, where the white
fringes of her drawers were like feathering of soft white down. Her
slate-blue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed
behind her. Her bosom was as a bird's, soft and slight, slight and soft
as the breast of some dark-plumaged dove. But her long fair hair was
girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her
She was alone and still, gazing out to sea; and when she felt his
presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet
sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness. Long, long she
suffered his gaze and then quietly withdrew her eyes from his and bent
them towards the stream, gently stirring the water with her foot hither
and thither. The first faint noise of gently moving water broke the
silence, low and faint and whispering, faint as the bells of sleep;
hither and thither, hither and thither; and a faint flame trembled on
--Heavenly God! cried Stephen's soul, in an outburst of profane joy.
He turned away from her suddenly and set off across the strand. His
cheeks were aflame; his body was aglow; his limbs were trembling. On
and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly
to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him.
Her image had passed into his soul for ever and no word had broken the
holy silence of his ecstasy. Her eyes had called him and his soul had
leaped at the call. To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate
life out of life! A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal
youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open
before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error
and glory. On and on and on and on!
He halted suddenly and heard his heart in the silence. How far had he
walked? What hour was it?
There was no human figure near him nor any sound borne to him over the
air. But the tide was near the turn and already the day was on the
wane. He turned landward and ran towards the shore and, running up the
sloping beach, reckless of the sharp shingle, found a sandy nook amid a
ring of tufted sandknolls and lay down there that the peace and silence
of the evening might still the riot of his blood.
He felt above him the vast indifferent dome and the calm processes of
the heavenly bodies; and the earth beneath him, the earth that had
borne him, had taken him to her breast.
He closed his eyes in the languor of sleep. His eyelids trembled as if
they felt the vast cyclic movement of the earth and her watchers,
trembled as if they felt the strange light of some new world. His soul
was swooning into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under
sea, traversed by cloudy shapes and beings. A world, a glimmer or a
flower? Glimmering and trembling, trembling and unfolding, a breaking
light, an opening flower, it spread in endless succession to itself,
breaking in full crimson and unfolding and fading to palest rose, leaf
by leaf and wave of light by wave of light, flooding all the heavens
with its soft flushes, every flush deeper than the other.
Evening had fallen when he woke and the sand and arid grasses of his
bed glowed no longer. He rose slowly and, recalling the rapture of his
sleep, sighed at its joy.
He climbed to the crest of the sandhill and gazed about him. Evening
had fallen. A rim of the young moon cleft the pale waste of skyline,
the rim of a silver hoop embedded in grey sand; and the tide was
flowing in fast to the land with a low whisper of her waves, islanding
a few last figures in distant pools.
He drained his third cup of watery tea to the dregs and set to chewing
the crusts of fried bread that were scattered near him, staring into
the dark pool of the jar. The yellow dripping had been scooped out like
a boghole and the pool under it brought back to his memory the dark
turf-coloured water of the bath in Clongowes. The box of pawn tickets
at his elbow had just been rifled and he took up idly one after another
in his greasy fingers the blue and white dockets, scrawled and sanded
and creased and bearing the name of the pledger as Daly or MacEvoy.
1 Pair Buskins.
1 D. Coat.
3 Articles and White.
1 Man's Pants.
Then he put them aside and gazed thoughtfully at the lid of the box,
speckled with louse marks, and asked vaguely:
--How much is the clock fast now?
His mother straightened the battered alarm clock that was lying on its
side in the middle of the mantelpiece until its dial showed a quarter
to twelve and then laid it once more on its side.
--An hour and twenty-five minutes, she said. The right time now is
twenty past ten. The dear knows you might try to be in time for your
--Fill out the place for me to wash, said Stephen.
--Katey, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
--Boody, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
--I can't, I'm going for blue. Fill it out, you, Maggy.
When the enamelled basin had been fitted into the well of the sink and
the old washing glove flung on the side of it he allowed his mother to
scrub his neck and root into the folds of his ears and into the
interstices at the wings of his nose.
--Well, it's a poor case, she said, when a university student is so
dirty that his mother has to wash him.
--But it gives you pleasure, said Stephen calmly.
An ear-splitting whistle was heard from upstairs and his mother thrust
a damp overall into his hands, saying:
--Dry yourself and hurry out for the love of goodness.
A second shrill whistle, prolonged angrily, brought one of the girls to
the foot of the staircase.
--Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?
The girl came back, making signs to him to be quick and go out quietly
by the back. Stephen laughed and said:
--He has a curious idea of genders if he thinks a bitch is masculine.
--Ah, it's a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, said his mother, and
you'll live to rue the day you set your foot in that place. I know how
it has changed you.
--Good morning, everybody, said Stephen, smiling and kissing the tips
of his fingers in adieu.
The lane behind the terrace was waterlogged and as he went down it
slowly, choosing his steps amid heaps of wet rubbish, he heard a mad
nun screeching in the nuns' madhouse beyond the wall.
--Jesus! O Jesus! Jesus!
He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and
hurried on, stumbling through the mouldering offal, his heart already
bitten by an ache of loathing and bitterness. His father's whistle, his
mother's mutterings, the screech of an unseen maniac were to him now so
many voices offending and threatening to humble the pride of his youth.
He drove their echoes even out of his heart with an execration; but, as
he walked down the avenue and felt the grey morning light falling about
him through the dripping trees and smelt the strange wild smell of the
wet leaves and bark, his soul was loosed of her miseries.
The rain-laden trees of the avenue evoked in him, as always, memories
of the girls and women in the plays of Gerhart Hauptmann; and the
memory of their pale sorrows and the fragrance falling from the wet
branches mingled in a mood of quiet joy. His morning walk across the
city had begun, and he foreknew that as he passed the sloblands of
Fairview he would think of the cloistral silver-veined prose of Newman;
that as he walked along the North Strand Road, glancing idly at the
windows of the provision shops, he would recall the dark humour of
Guido Cavalcanti and smile; that as he went by Baird's stonecutting
works in Talbot Place the spirit of Ibsen would blow through him like a
keen wind, a spirit of wayward boyish beauty; and that passing a grimy
marine dealer's shop beyond the Liffey he would repeat the song by Ben
Jonson which begins:
I was not wearier where I lay.
His mind when wearied of its search for the essence of beauty amid the
spectral words of Aristotle or Aquinas turned often for its pleasure to
the dainty songs of the Elizabethans. His mind, in the vesture of a
doubting monk, stood often in shadow under the windows of that age, to
hear the grave and mocking music of the lutenists or the frank laughter
of waist-coateers until a laugh too low, a phrase, tarnished by time,
of chambering and false honour stung his monkish pride and drove him on
from his lurking-place.
The lore which he was believed to pass his days brooding upon so that
it had rapt him from the companionship of youth was only a garner of
slender sentences from Aristotle's poetics and psychology and a
SYNOPSIS PHILOSOPHIAE SCHOLASTICAE AD MENTEM DIVI THOMAE. His thinking
was a dusk of doubt and self-mistrust, lit up at moments by the
lightnings of intuition, but lightnings of so clear a splendour that in
those moments the world perished about his feet as if it had been
fire-consumed; and thereafter his tongue grew heavy and he met the eyes
of others with unanswering eyes, for he felt that the spirit of beauty
had folded him round like a mantle and that in revery at least he had
been acquainted with nobility. But when this brief pride of
silence upheld him no longer he was glad to find himself
still in the midst of common lives, passing on his way amid the squalor
and noise and sloth of the city fearlessly and with a light heart.
Near the hoardings on the canal he met the consumptive man with the
doll's face and the brimless hat coming towards him down the slope of
the bridge with little steps, tightly buttoned into his chocolate
overcoat, and holding his furled umbrella a span or two from him like a
divining rod. It must be eleven, he thought, and peered into a dairy to
see the time. The clock in the dairy told him that it was five minutes
to five but, as he turned away, he heard a clock somewhere near him,
but unseen, beating eleven strokes in swift precision. He laughed as he
heard it for it made him think of McCann, and he saw him a squat figure
in a shooting jacket and breeches and with a fair goatee, standing in
the wind at Hopkins' corner, and heard him say:
--Dedalus, you're an antisocial being, wrapped up in yourself. I'm
not. I'm a democrat and I'll work and act for social liberty and
equality among all classes and sexes in the United States of the Europe
of the future.
Eleven! Then he was late for that lecture too. What day of the week was
it? He stopped at a newsagent's to read the headline of a placard.
Thursday. Ten to eleven, English; eleven to twelve, French; twelve to
one, physics. He fancied to himself the English lecture and felt, even
at that distance, restless and helpless. He saw the heads of his
classmates meekly bent as they wrote in their notebooks the points they
were bidden to note, nominal definitions, essential definitions and
examples or dates of birth or death, chief works, a favourable and an
unfavourable criticism side by side. His own head was unbent for his
thoughts wandered abroad and whether he looked around the little class
of students or out of the window across the desolate gardens of the
green an odour assailed him of cheerless cellar-damp and decay. Another
head than his, right before him in the first benches, was poised
squarely above its bending fellows like the head of a priest appealing
without humility to the tabernacle for the humble worshippers about
him. Why was it that when he thought of Cranly he could never raise
before his mind the entire image of his body but only the image of the
head and face? Even now against the grey curtain of the morning he saw
it before him like the phantom of a dream, the face of a severed head
or death-mask, crowned on the brows by its stiff black upright hair as
by an iron crown. It was a priest-like face, priest-like in its palor,
in the wide winged nose, in the shadowings below the eyes and along the
jaws, priest-like in the lips that were long and bloodless and faintly
smiling; and Stephen, remembering swiftly how he had told Cranly of all
the tumults and unrest and longings in his soul, day after day and
night by night, only to be answered by his friend's listening silence,
would have told himself that it was the face of a guilty priest who
heard confessions of those whom he had not power to absolve but that he
felt again in memory the gaze of its dark womanish eyes.
Through this image he had a glimpse of a strange dark cavern of
speculation but at once turned away from it, feeling that it was not
yet the hour to enter it. But the nightshade of his friend's
listlessness seemed to be diffusing in the air around him a tenuous and
deadly exhalation and He found himself glancing from one casual word to
another on his right or left in stolid wonder that they had been so
silently emptied of instantaneous sense until every mean shop legend
bound his mind like the words of a spell and his soul shrivelled up
sighing with age as he walked on in a lane among heaps of dead
language. His own consciousness of language was ebbing from his brain
and trickling into the very words themselves which set to band and
disband themselves in wayward rhythms:
The ivy whines upon the wall,
And whines and twines upon the wall,
The yellow ivy upon the wall,
Ivy, ivy up the wall.
Did anyone ever hear such drivel? Lord Almighty! Who ever heard of ivy
whining on a wall? Yellow ivy; that was all right. Yellow ivory also.
And what about ivory ivy?
The word now shone in his brain, clearer and brighter than any ivory
sawn from the mottled tusks of elephants. IVORY, IVOIRE, AVORIO, EBUR.
One of the first examples that he had learnt in Latin had run:
INDIA MITTIT EBUR; and he recalled the shrewd northern face of the
rector who had taught him to construe the Metamorphoses of Ovid in a
courtly English, made whimsical by the mention of porkers and potsherds
and chines of bacon. He had learnt what little he knew of the laws of
Latin verse from a ragged book written by a Portuguese priest.
Contrahit orator, variant in carmine vates.
The crises and victories and secessions in Roman history were handed on
to him in the trite words IN TANTO DISCRIMINE and he had tried to peer
into the social life of the city of cities through the words IMPLERE
OLLAM DENARIORUM which the rector had rendered sonorously as the
filling of a pot with denaries. The pages of his time-worn Horace never
felt cold to the touch even when his own fingers were cold; they were
human pages and fifty years before they had been turned by the human
fingers of John Duncan Inverarity and by his brother, William Malcolm
Inverarity. Yes, those were noble names on the dusky flyleaf and, even
for so poor a Latinist as he, the dusky verses were as fragrant as
though they had lain all those years in myrtle and lavender and
vervain; but yet it wounded him to think that he would never be but a
shy guest at the feast of the world's culture and that the monkish
learning, in terms of which he was striving to forge out an esthetic
philosophy, was held no higher by the age he lived in than the subtle
and curious jargons of heraldry and falconry.
The grey block of Trinity on his left, set heavily in the city's
ignorance like a dull stone set in a cumbrous ring, pulled his mind
downward and while he was striving this way and that to free his feet
from the fetters of the reformed conscience he came upon the droll
statue of the national poet of Ireland.
He looked at it without anger; for, though sloth of the body and of the
soul crept over it like unseen vermin, over the shuffling feet and up
the folds of the cloak and around the servile head, it seemed humbly
conscious of its indignity. It was a Firbolg in the borrowed cloak of a
Milesian; and he thought of his friend Davin, the peasant student. It
was a jesting name between them, but the young peasant bore with it
--Go on, Stevie, I have a hard head, you tell me. Call me what you
The homely version of his christian name on the lips of his friend had
touched Stephen pleasantly when first heard for he was as formal in
speech with others as they were with him. Often, as he sat in Davin's
rooms in Grantham Street, wondering at his friend's well-made boots
that flanked the wall pair by pair and repeating for his friend's
simple ear the verses and cadences of others which were the veils of
his own longing and dejection, the rude Firbolg mind of his listener
had drawn his mind towards it and flung it back again, drawing it by a
quiet inbred courtesy of attention or by a quaint turn of old English
speech or by the force of its delight in rude bodily skill--for Davin
had sat at the feet of Michael Cusack, the Gael--repelling swiftly and
suddenly by a grossness of intelligence or by a bluntness of feeling or
by a dull stare of terror in the eyes, the terror of soul of a starving
Irish village in which the curfew was still a nightly fear.
Side by side with his memory of the deeds of prowess of his uncle Mat
Davin, the athlete, the young peasant worshipped the sorrowful legend
of Ireland. The gossip of his fellow-students which strove to render
the flat life of the college significant at any cost loved to think of
him as a young fenian. His nurse had taught him Irish and shaped his
rude imagination by the broken lights of Irish myth. He stood towards
the myth upon which no individual mind had ever drawn out a line of
beauty and to its unwieldy tales that divided against themselves as
they moved down the cycles in the same attitude as towards the Roman
catholic religion, the attitude of a dull-witted loyal serf. Whatsoever
of thought or of feeling came to him from England or by way of English
culture his mind stood armed against in obedience to a password; and of
the world that lay beyond England he knew only the foreign legion of
France in which he spoke of serving.
Coupling this ambition with the young man's humour Stephen had often
called him one of the tame geese and there was even a point of
irritation in the name pointed against that very reluctance of speech
and deed in his friend which seemed so often to stand between Stephen's
mind, eager of speculation, and the hidden ways of Irish life.
One night the young peasant, his spirit stung by the violent or
luxurious language in which Stephen escaped from the cold silence of
intellectual revolt, had called up before Stephen's mind a strange
vision. The two were walking slowly towards Davin's rooms through the
dark narrow streets of the poorer jews.
--A thing happened to myself, Stevie, last autumn, coming on winter,
and I never told it to a living soul and you are the first person now I
ever told it to. I disremember if it was October or November. It was
October because it was before I came up here to join the matriculation
Stephen had turned his smiling eyes towards his friend's face,
flattered by his confidence and won over to sympathy by the speaker's
--I was away all that day from my own place over in Buttevant.
--I don't know if you know where that is--at a hurling match between
the Croke's Own Boys and the Fearless Thurles and by God, Stevie, that
was the hard fight. My first cousin, Fonsy Davin, was stripped to his
buff that day minding cool for the Limericks but he was up with the
forwards half the time and shouting like mad. I never will forget that
day. One of the Crokes made a woeful wipe at him one time with his
caman and I declare to God he was within an aim's ace of getting it at
the side of his temple. Oh, honest to God, if the crook of it caught
him that time he was done for.
--I am glad he escaped, Stephen had said with a laugh, but surely
that's not the strange thing that happened you?
--Well, I suppose that doesn't interest you, but leastways there was
such noise after the match that I missed the train home and I couldn't
get any kind of a yoke to give me a lift for, as luck would have it,
there was a mass meeting that same day over in Castletownroche and
all the cars in the country were there. So there was nothing for it
only to stay the night or to foot it out. Well, I started to walk
and on I went and it was coming on night when I got into the Ballyhoura
hills, that's better than ten miles from Kilmallock and there's a
long lonely road after that. You wouldn't see the sign of a christian
house along the road or hear a sound. It was pitch dark almost. Once
or twice I stopped by the way under a bush to redden my pipe and only
for the dew was thick I'd have stretched out there and slept. At last,
after a bend of the road, I spied a little cottage with a light in the
window. I went up and knocked at the door. A voice asked who was
there and I answered I was over at the match in Buttevant and was
walking back and that I'd be thankful for a glass of water. After
a while a young woman opened the door and brought me out a big mug
of milk. She was half undressed as if she was going to bed when I
knocked and she had her hair hanging and I thought by her figure and
by something in the look of her eyes that she must be carrying a
child. She kept me in talk a long while at the door, and I thought
it strange because her breast and her shoulders were bare. She
asked me was I tired and would I like to stop the night there.
She said she was all alone in the house and that her husband had
gone that morning to Queenstown with his sister to see her off. And all
the time she was talking, Stevie, she had her eyes fixed on my face and
she stood so close to me I could hear her breathing. When I handed her
back the mug at last she took my hand to draw me in over the threshold
and said: 'COME IN AND STAY THE NIGHT HERE. YOU'VE NO CALL TO BE
FRIGHTENED. THERE'S NO ONE IN IT BUT OURSELVES...' I didn't go in,
Stevie. I thanked her and went on my way again, all in a fever. At the
first bend of the road I looked back and she was standing at the door.
The last words of Davin's story sang in his memory and the figure of
the woman in the story stood forth reflected in other figures of the
peasant women whom he had seen standing in the doorways at Clane as the
college cars drove by, as a type of her race and of his own, a bat-like
soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and
loneliness and, through the eyes and voice and gesture of a woman
without guile, calling the stranger to her bed.
A hand was laid on his arm and a young voice cried:
--Ah, gentleman, your own girl, sir! The first handsel today, gentleman.
Buy that lovely bunch. Will you, gentleman?
The blue flowers which she lifted towards him and her young blue eyes
seemed to him at that instant images of guilelessness, and he halted
till the image had vanished and he saw only her ragged dress and damp
coarse hair and hoydenish face.
--Do, gentleman! Don't forget your own girl, sir!
--I have no money, said Stephen.
--Buy them lovely ones, will you, sir? Only a penny.
--Did you hear what I said? asked Stephen, bending towards her. I told you
I had no money. I tell you again now.
--Well, sure, you will some day, sir, please God, the girl answered
after an instant.
--Possibly, said Stephen, but I don't think it likely.
He left her quickly, fearing that her intimacy might turn to jibing
and wishing to be out of the way before she offered her ware to
another, a tourist from England or a student of Trinity. Grafton
Street, along which he walked, prolonged that moment of discouraged
poverty. In the roadway at the head of the street a slab was set to the
memory of Wolfe Tone and he remembered having been present with his
father at its laying. He remembered with bitterness that scene of
tawdry tribute. There were four French delegates in a brake and one, a
plump smiling young man, held, wedged on a stick, a card on which were
printed the words: VIVE L'IRLANDE!
But the trees in Stephen's Green were fragrant of rain and the
rain-sodden earth gave forth its mortal odour, a faint incense rising
upward through the mould from many hearts. The soul of the gallant
venal city which his elders had told him of had shrunk with time to a
faint mortal odour rising from the earth and he knew that in a moment
when he entered the sombre college he would be conscious of a
corruption other than that of Buck Egan and Burnchapel Whaley.
It was too late to go upstairs to the French class. He crossed the hall
and took the corridor to the left which led to the physics theatre. The
corridor was dark and silent but not unwatchful. Why did he feel that
it was not unwatchful? Was it because he had heard that in Buck
Whaley's time there was a secret staircase there? Or was the jesuit
house extra-territorial and was he walking among aliens? The Ireland of
Tone and of Parnell seemed to have receded in space.
He opened the door of the theatre and halted in the chilly grey light
that struggled through the dusty windows. A figure was crouching before
the large grate and by its leanness and greyness he knew that it was
the dean of studies lighting the fire. Stephen closed the door quietly
and approached the fireplace.
--Good morning, sir! Can I help you?
The priest looked up quickly and said:
--One moment now, Mr Dedalus, and you will see. There is an art in
lighting a fire. We have the liberal arts and we have the useful arts.
This is one of the useful arts.
--I will try to learn it, said Stephen.
--Not too much coal, said the dean, working briskly at his task, that
is one of the secrets.
He produced four candle-butts from the side-pockets of his soutane and
placed them deftly among the coals and twisted papers. Stephen watched
him in silence. Kneeling thus on the flagstone to kindle the fire and
busied with the disposition of his wisps of paper and candle-butts he
seemed more than ever a humble server making ready the place of
sacrifice in an empty temple, a levite of the Lord. Like a levite's
robe of plain linen the faded worn soutane draped the kneeling figure
of one whom the canonicals or the bell-bordered ephod would irk and
trouble. His very body had waxed old in lowly service of the Lord--in
tending the fire upon the altar, in bearing tidings secretly, in
waiting upon worldlings, in striking swiftly when bidden--and yet had
remained ungraced by aught of saintly or of prelatic beauty. Nay, his
very soul had waxed old in that service without growing towards light
and beauty or spreading abroad a sweet odour of her sanctity--a
mortified will no more responsive to the thrill of its obedience than
was to the thrill of love or combat his ageing body, spare and sinewy,
greyed with a silver-pointed down.
The dean rested back on his hunkers and watched the sticks catch.
Stephen, to fill the silence, said:
--I am sure I could not light a fire.
--You are an artist, are you not, Mr Dedalus? said the dean, glancing
up and blinking his pale eyes. The object of the artist is the creation
of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.
He rubbed his hands slowly and drily over the difficulty.
--Can you solve that question now? he asked.
--Aquinas, answered Stephen, says PULCRA SUNT QUAE VISA PLACENT.
--This fire before us, said the dean, will be pleasing to the eye.
Will it therefore be beautiful?
--In so far as it is apprehended by the sight, which I suppose means
here esthetic intellection, it will be beautiful. But Aquinas also says
BONUM EST IN QUOD TENDIT APPETITUS. In so far as it satisfies the
animal craving for warmth fire is a good. In hell, however, it is an
--Quite so, said the dean, you have certainly hit the nail on the head.
He rose nimbly and went towards the door, set it ajar and said:
--A draught is said to be a help in these matters.
As he came back to the hearth, limping slightly but with a brisk step,
Stephen saw the silent soul of a jesuit look out at him from the pale
loveless eyes. Like Ignatius he was lame but in his eyes burned no
spark of Ignatius's enthusiasm. Even the legendary craft of the
company, a craft subtler and more secret than its fabled books of
secret subtle wisdom, had not fired his soul with the energy of
apostleship. It seemed as if he used the shifts and lore and cunning of
the world, as bidden to do, for the greater glory of God, without joy
in their handling or hatred of that in them which was evil but turning
them, with a firm gesture of obedience back upon themselves and for all
this silent service it seemed as if he loved not at all the master and
little, if at all, the ends he served. SIMILITER ATQUE SENIS BACULUS,
he was, as the founder would have had him, like a staff in an old man's
hand, to be leaned on in the road at nightfall or in stress of weather,
to lie with a lady's nosegay on a garden seat, to be raised in menace.
The dean returned to the hearth and began to stroke his chin.
--When may we expect to have something from you on the esthetic
question? he asked.
--From me! said Stephen in astonishment. I stumble on an idea once a
fortnight if I am lucky.
--These questions are very profound, Mr Dedalus, said the dean. It is
like looking down from the cliffs of Moher into the depths. Many go
down into the depths and never come up. Only the trained diver can go
down into those depths and explore them and come to the surface again.
--If you mean speculation, sir, said Stephen, I also am sure that
there is no such thing as free thinking inasmuch as all thinking must
be bound by its own laws.
--For my purpose I can work on at present by the light of one or two
ideas of Aristotle and Aquinas.
--I see. I quite see your point.
--I need them only for my own use and guidance until I have done
something for myself by their light. If the lamp smokes or smells I
shall try to trim it. If it does not give light enough I shall sell it
and buy another.
--Epictetus also had a lamp, said the dean, which was sold for a fancy
price after his death. It was the lamp he wrote his philosophical
dissertations by. You know Epictetus?
--An old gentleman, said Stephen coarsely, who said that the soul is
very like a bucketful of water.
--He tells us in his homely way, the dean went on, that he put an iron
lamp before a statue of one of the gods and that a thief stole the
lamp. What did the philosopher do? He reflected that it was in the
character of a thief to steal and determined to buy an earthen lamp
next day instead of the iron lamp.
A smell of molten tallow came up from the dean's candle butts and fused
itself in Stephen's consciousness with the jingle of the words, bucket
and lamp and lamp and bucket. The priest's voice, too, had a hard
jingling tone. Stephen's mind halted by instinct, checked by the
strange tone and the imagery and by the priest's face which seemed like
an unlit lamp or a reflector hung in a false focus. What lay behind it
or within it? A dull torpor of the soul or the dullness of the
thundercloud, charged with intellection and capable of the gloom of
--I meant a different kind of lamp, sir, said Stephen.
--Undoubtedly, said the dean.
--One difficulty, said Stephen, in esthetic discussion is to know
whether words are being used according to the literary tradition or
according to the tradition of the marketplace. I remember a sentence of
Newman's in which he says of the Blessed Virgin that she was detained
in the full company of the saints. The use of the word in the
marketplace is quite different. I HOPE I AM NOT DETAINING YOU.
--Not in the least, said the dean politely.
--No, no, said Stephen, smiling, I mean--
--Yes, yes; I see, said the dean quickly, I quite catch the point:
He thrust forward his under jaw and uttered a dry short cough.
--To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice
problem. You must choose the pure oil and you must be careful when you
pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more than the funnel can
--What funnel? asked Stephen.
--The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.
--That? said Stephen. Is that called a funnel? Is it not a tundish?
--What is a tundish?
--That. The... funnel.
--Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard
the word in my life.
--It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen, laughing,
where they speak the best English.
--A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting
word. I must look that word up. Upon my word I must.
His courtesy of manner rang a little false and Stephen looked at the
English convert with the same eyes as the elder brother in the parable
may have turned on the prodigal. A humble follower in the wake of
clamorous conversions, a poor Englishman in Ireland, he seemed to have
entered on the stage of jesuit history when that strange play of
intrigue and suffering and envy and struggle and indignity had been all
but given through--a late-comer, a tardy spirit. From what had he set
out? Perhaps he had been born and bred among serious dissenters, seeing
salvation in Jesus only and abhorring the vain pomps of the
establishment. Had he felt the need of an implicit faith amid the
welter of sectarianism and the jargon of its turbulent schisms, six
principle men, peculiar people, seed and snake baptists, supralapsarian
dogmatists? Had he found the true church all of a sudden in winding up
to the end like a reel of cotton some fine-spun line of reasoning upon
insufflation on the imposition of hands or the procession of the Holy
Ghost? Or had Lord Christ touched him and bidden him follow, like that
disciple who had sat at the receipt of custom, as he sat by the door of
some zinc-roofed chapel, yawning and telling over his church pence?
The dean repeated the word yet again.
--Tundish! Well now, that is interesting!
--The question you asked me a moment ago seems to me more interesting.
What is that beauty which the artist struggles to express from lumps of
earth, said Stephen coldly.
The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his
sensitiveness against this courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a
smart of dejection that the man to whom he was speaking was a
countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:
--The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How
different are the words HOME, CHRIST, ALE, MASTER, on his lips and on
mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His
language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired
speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at
bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.
--And to distinguish between the beautiful and the sublime, the dean
added, to distinguish between moral beauty and material beauty. And to
inquire what kind of beauty is proper to each of the various arts.
These are some interesting points we might take up.
Stephen, disheartened suddenly by the dean's firm, dry tone, was
silent; and through the silence a distant noise of many boots and
confused voices came up the staircase.
--In pursuing these speculations, said the dean conclusively, there
is, however, the danger of perishing of inanition. First you must take
your degree. Set that before you as your first aim. Then, little by
little, you will see your way. I mean in every sense, your way in life
and in thinking. It may be uphill pedalling at first. Take Mr Moonan.
He was a long time before he got to the top. But he got there.
--I may not have his talent, said Stephen quietly.
--You never know, said the dean brightly. We never can say what is in
us. I most certainly should not be despondent. PER ASPERA AD ASTRA.
He left the hearth quickly and went towards the landing to oversee the
arrival of the first arts' class.
Leaning against the fireplace Stephen heard him greet briskly and
impartially every Student of the class and could almost see the frank
smiles of the coarser students. A desolating pity began to fall like
dew upon his easily embittered heart for this faithful serving-man of
the knightly Loyola, for this half-brother of the clergy, more venal
than they in speech, more steadfast of soul than they, one whom he
would never call his ghostly father; and he thought how this man and
his companions had earned the name of worldlings at the hands not of
the unworldly only but of the worldly also for having pleaded, during
all their history, at the bar of God's justice for the souls of the lax
and the lukewarm and the prudent.
The entry of the professor was signalled by a few rounds of Kentish
fire from the heavy boots of those students who sat on the highest tier
of the gloomy theatre under the grey cobwebbed windows. The calling of
the roll began and the responses to the names were given out in all
tones until the name of Peter Byrne was reached.
A deep bass note in response came from the upper tier, followed by
coughs of protest along the other benches.
The professor paused in his reading and called the next name:
A smile flew across Stephen's face as he thought of his friend's
--Try Leopardstown! Said a voice from the bench behind.
Stephen glanced up quickly but Moynihan's snoutish face, outlined on the
grey light, was impassive. A formula was given out. Amid the rustling of
the notebooks Stephen turned back again and said:
--Give me some paper for God's sake.
--Are you as bad as that? asked Moynihan with a broad grin.
He tore a sheet from his scribbler and passed it down, whispering:
--In case of necessity any layman or woman can do it.
The formula which he wrote obediently on the sheet of paper, the
coiling and uncoiling calculations of the professor, the spectre-like
symbols of force and velocity fascinated and jaded Stephen's mind. He
had heard some say that the old professor was an atheist freemason. O
the grey dull day! It seemed a limbo of painless patient consciousness
through which souls of mathematicians might wander, projecting long
slender fabrics from plane to plane of ever rarer and paler twilight,
radiating swift eddies to the last verges of a universe ever vaster,
farther and more impalpable.
--So we must distinguish between elliptical and ellipsoidal. Perhaps some
of you gentlemen may be familiar with the works of Mr W. S. Gilbert. In
one of his songs he speaks of the billiard sharp who is condemned to
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue
And elliptical billiard balls.
--He means a ball having the form of the ellipsoid of the principal
axes of which I spoke a moment ago.
Moynihan leaned down towards Stephen's ear and murmured:
--What price ellipsoidal balls! chase me, ladies, I'm in the cavalry!
His fellow student's rude humour ran like a gust through the cloister
of Stephen's mind, shaking into gay life limp priestly vestments that
hung upon the walls, setting them to sway and caper in a sabbath of
misrule. The forms of the community emerged from the gust-blown
vestments, the dean of studies, the portly florid bursar with his cap
of grey hair, the president, the little priest with feathery hair who
wrote devout verses, the squat peasant form of the professor of
economics, the tall form of the young professor of mental science
discussing on the landing a case of conscience with his class like a
giraffe cropping high leafage among a herd of antelopes, the grave
troubled prefect of the sodality, the plump round-headed professor of
Italian with his rogue's eyes. They came ambling and stumbling,
tumbling and capering, kilting their gowns for leap frog, holding one
another back, shaken with deep false laughter, smacking one another
behind and laughing at their rude malice, calling to one another by
familiar nicknames, protesting with sudden dignity at some rough usage,
whispering two and two behind their hands.
The professor had gone to the glass cases on the side wall, from a
shelf of which he took down a set of coils, blew away the dust from
many points and, bearing it carefully to the table, held a finger on it
while he proceeded with his lecture. He explained that the wires in
modern coils were of a compound called platinoid lately discovered by
F. W. Martino.
He spoke clearly the initials and surname of the discoverer. Moynihan
whispered from behind:
--Good old Fresh Water Martin!
--Ask him, Stephen whispered back with weary humour, if he wants a
subject for electrocution. He can have me.
Moynihan, seeing the professor bend over the coils, rose in his bench
and, clacking noiselessly the fingers of his right hand, began to call
with the voice of a slobbering urchin.
--Please teacher! This boy is after saying a bad word, teacher.
--Platinoid, the professor said solemnly, is preferred to German
silver because it has a lower coefficient of resistance by changes of
temperature. The platinoid wire is insulated and the covering of silk
that insulates it is wound on the ebonite bobbins just where my finger
is. If it were wound single an extra current would be induced in the
coils. The bobbins are saturated in hot paraffin wax...
A sharp Ulster voice said from the bench below Stephen:
--Are we likely to be asked questions on applied science?
The professor began to juggle gravely with the terms pure science and
applied science. A heavy-built student, wearing gold spectacles, stared
with some wonder at the questioner. Moynihan murmured from behind in
his natural voice:
--Isn't MacAlister a devil for his pound of flesh?
Stephen looked coldly on the oblong skull beneath him overgrown with
tangled twine-coloured hair. The voice, the accent, the mind of the
questioner offended him and he allowed the offence to carry him towards
wilful unkindness, bidding his mind think that the student's father
would have done better had he sent his son to Belfast to study and have
saved something on the train fare by so doing.
The oblong skull beneath did not turn to meet this shaft of thought and
yet the shaft came back to its bowstring; for he saw in a moment the
student's whey-pale face.
--That thought is not mine, he said to himself quickly. It came from
the comic Irishman in the bench behind. Patience. Can you say with
certitude by whom the soul of your race was bartered and its elect
betrayed--by the questioner or by the mocker? Patience. Remember
Epictetus. It is probably in his character to ask such a question at
such a moment in such a tone and to pronounce the word SCIENCE as a
The droning voice of the professor continued to wind itself slowly
round and round the coils it spoke of, doubling, trebling, quadrupling
its somnolent energy as the coil multiplied its ohms of resistance.
Moynihan's voice called from behind in echo to a distant bell:
--Closing time, gents!
The entrance hall was crowded and loud with talk. On a table near the
door were two photographs in frames and between them a long roll of
paper bearing an irregular tail of signatures. MacCann went briskly to
and fro among the students, talking rapidly, answering rebuffs and
leading one after another to the table. In the inner hall the dean of
studies stood talking to a young professor, stroking his chin gravely
and nodding his head.
Stephen, checked by the crowd at the door, halted irresolutely. From
under the wide falling leaf of a soft hat Cranly's dark eyes were
--Have you signed? Stephen asked.
Cranly closed his long thin-lipped mouth, communed with himself an
instant and answered:
--What is it for?
--What is it for?
Cranly turned his pale face to Stephen and said blandly and bitterly:
--PER PAX UNIVERSALIS.
Stephen pointed to the Tsar's photograph and said:
--He has the face of a besotted Christ.
The scorn and anger in his voice brought Cranly's eyes back from a calm
survey of the walls of the hall.
--Are you annoyed? he asked.
--No, answered Stephen.
--Are you in bad humour?
--CREDO UT VOS SANGUINARIUS MENDAX ESTIS, said Cranly, QUIA FACIES
VOSTRA MONSTRAT UT VOS IN DAMNO MALO HUMORE ESTIS.
Moynihan, on his way to the table, said in Stephen's ear:
--MacCann is in tiptop form. Ready to shed the last drop. Brand new
world. No stimulants and votes for the bitches.
Stephen smiled at the manner of this confidence and, when Moynihan had
passed, turned again to meet Cranly's eyes.
--Perhaps you can tell me, he said, why he pours his soul so freely
into my ear. Can you?
A dull scowl appeared on Cranly's forehead. He stared at the table
where Moynihan had bent to write his name on the roll, and then said
--QUIS EST IN MALO HUMORE, said Stephen, EGO AUT VOS?
Cranly did not take up the taunt. He brooded sourly on his judgement
and repeated with the same flat force:
--A flaming bloody sugar, that's what he is!
It was his epitaph for all dead friendships and Stephen wondered
whether it would ever be spoken in the same tone over his memory. The
heavy lumpish phrase sank slowly out of hearing like a stone through a
quagmire. Stephen saw it sink as he had seen many another, feeling its
heaviness depress his heart. Cranly's speech, unlike that of Davin, had
neither rare phrases of Elizabethan English nor quaintly turned
versions of Irish idioms. Its drawl was an echo of the quays of Dublin
given back by a bleak decaying seaport, its energy an echo of the
sacred eloquence of Dublin given back flatly by a Wicklow pulpit.
The heavy scowl faded from Cranly's face as MacCann marched briskly
towards them from the other side of the hall.
--Here you are! said MacCann cheerily.
--Here I am! said Stephen.
--Late as usual. Can you not combine the progressive tendency with a
respect for punctuality?
--That question is out of order, said Stephen. Next business.
His smiling eyes were fixed on a silver-wrapped tablet of milk chocolate
which peeped out of the propagandist's breast-pocket. A little ring of
listeners closed round to hear the war of wits. A lean student with
olive skin and lank black hair thrust his face between the two, glancing
from one to the other at each phrase and seeming to try to catch each
flying phrase in his open moist mouth. Cranly took a small grey handball
from his pocket and began to examine it closely, turning it over and over.
--Next business? said MacCann. Hom!
He gave a loud cough of laughter, smiled broadly and tugged twice at
the straw-coloured goatee which hung from his blunt chin.
--The next business is to sign the testimonial.
--Will you pay me anything if I sign? asked Stephen.
--I thought you were an idealist, said MacCann.
The gipsy-like student looked about him and addressed the onlookers in
an indistinct bleating voice.
--By hell, that's a queer notion. I consider that notion to be a
His voice faded into silence. No heed was paid to his words. He turned
his olive face, equine in expression, towards Stephen, inviting him to
MacCann began to speak with fluent energy of the Tsar's rescript, of
Stead, of general disarmament arbitration in cases of international
disputes, of the signs of the times, of the new humanity and the new
gospel of life which would make it the business of the community to
secure as cheaply as possible the greatest possible happiness of the
greatest possible number.
The gipsy student responded to the close of the period by crying:
--Three cheers for universal brotherhood!
--Go on, Temple, said a stout ruddy student near him. I'll stand you a
--I'm a believer in universal brotherhood, said Temple, glancing about
him out of his dark oval eyes. Marx is only a bloody cod.
Cranly gripped his arm tightly to check his tongue, smiling uneasily,
--Easy, easy, easy!
Temple struggled to free his arm but continued, his mouth flecked by a
--Socialism was founded by an Irishman and the first man in Europe who
preached the freedom of thought was Collins. Two hundred years ago. He
denounced priestcraft, the philosopher of Middlesex. Three cheers for
John Anthony Collins!
A thin voice from the verge of the ring replied:
Moynihan murmured beside Stephen's ear:
--And what about John Anthony's poor little sister:
Lottie Collins lost her drawers;
Won't you kindly lend her yours?
Stephen laughed and Moynihan, pleased with the result, murmured again:
--We'll have five bob each way on John Anthony Collins.
--I am waiting for your answer, said MacCann briefly.
--The affair doesn't interest me in the least, said Stephen wearily.
You know that well. Why do you make a scene about it?
--Good! said MacCann, smacking his lips. You are a reactionary, then?
--Do you think you impress me, Stephen asked, when you flourish your
--Metaphors! said MacCann bluntly. Come to facts.
Stephen blushed and turned aside. MacCann stood his ground and said with
--Minor poets, I suppose, are above such trivial questions as the
question of universal peace.
Cranly raised his head and held the handball between the two students
by way of a peace-offering, saying:
--PAX SUPER TOTUM SANGUINARIUM GLOBUM.
Stephen, moving away the bystanders, jerked his shoulder angrily in the
direction of the Tsar's image, saying:
--Keep your icon. If we must have a Jesus let us have a legitimate
--By hell, that's a good one! said the gipsy student to those about
him, that's a fine expression. I like that expression immensely.
He gulped down the spittle in his throat as if he were gulping down the
phrase and, fumbling at the peak of his tweed cap, turned to Stephen,
--Excuse me, sir, what do you mean by that expression you uttered just
Feeling himself jostled by the students near him, he said to them:
--I am curious to know now what he meant by that expression.
He turned again to Stephen and said in a whisper:
--Do you believe in Jesus? I believe in man. Of course, I don't know
if you believe in man. I admire you, sir. I admire the mind of man
independent of all religions. Is that your opinion about the mind of
--Go on, Temple, said the stout ruddy student, returning, as was his
wont, to his first idea, that pint is waiting for you.
--He thinks I'm an imbecile, Temple explained to Stephen, because I'm a
believer in the power of mind.
Cranly linked his arms into those of Stephen and his admirer and said:
--NOS AD MANUM BALLUM JOCABIMUS.
Stephen, in the act of being led away, caught sight of MacCann's
flushed blunt-featured face.
--My signature is of no account, he said politely. You are right to go
your way. Leave me to go mine.
--Dedalus, said MacCann crisply, I believe you're a good fellow but
you have yet to learn the dignity of altruism and the responsibility of
the human individual.
A voice said:
--Intellectual crankery is better out of this movement than in it.
Stephen, recognizing the harsh tone of MacAlister's voice did not turn
in the direction of the voice. Cranly pushed solemnly through the
throng of students, linking Stephen and Temple like a celebrant
attended by his ministers on his way to the altar.
Temple bent eagerly across Cranly's breast and said:
--Did you hear MacAlister what he said? That youth is jealous of you.
Did you see that? I bet Cranly didn't see that. By hell, I saw that at
As they crossed the inner hall, the dean of studies was in the act of
escaping from the student with whom he had been conversing. He stood at
the foot of the staircase, a foot on the lowest step, his threadbare
soutane gathered about him for the ascent with womanish care, nodding
his head often and repeating:
--Not a doubt of it, Mr Hackett! Very fine! Not a doubt of it!
In the middle of the hall the prefect of the college sodality was
speaking earnestly, in a soft querulous voice, with a boarder. As he
spoke he wrinkled a little his freckled brow and bit, between his
phrases, at a tiny bone pencil.
--I hope the matric men will all come. The first arts' men are pretty
sure. Second arts, too. We must make sure of the newcomers.
Temple bent again across Cranly, as they were passing through the
doorway, and said in a swift whisper:
--Do you know that he is a married man? he was a married man before
they converted him. He has a wife and children somewhere. By hell, I
think that's the queerest notion I ever heard! Eh?
His whisper trailed off into sly cackling laughter. The moment they
were through the doorway Cranly seized him rudely by the neck and shook
--You flaming floundering fool! I'll take my dying bible there isn't a
bigger bloody ape, do you know, than you in the whole flaming bloody
Temple wriggled in his grip, laughing still with sly content, while
Cranly repeated flatly at every rude shake:
--A flaming flaring bloody idiot!
They crossed the weedy garden together. The president, wrapped in a
heavy loose cloak, was coming towards them along one of the walks,
reading his office. At the end of the walk he halted before turning and
raised his eyes. The students saluted, Temple fumbling as before at the
peak of his cap. They walked forward in silence. As they neared the
alley Stephen could hear the thuds of the players' hands and the wet
smacks of the ball and Davin's voice crying out excitedly at each
The three students halted round the box on which Davin sat to follow
the game. Temple, after a few moments, sidled across to Stephen and
--Excuse me, I wanted to ask you, do you believe that Jean-Jacques
Rousseau was a sincere man?
Stephen laughed outright. Cranly, picking up the broken stave of a cask
from the grass at his feet, turned swiftly and said sternly:
--Temple, I declare to the living God if you say another word, do you
know, to anybody on any subject, I'll kill you SUPER SPOTTUM.
--He was like you, I fancy, said Stephen, an emotional man.
--Blast him, curse him! said Cranly broadly. Don't talk to him at all.
Sure, you might as well be talking, do you know, to a flaming
chamber-pot as talking to Temple. Go home, Temple. For God's sake, go
--I don't care a damn about you, Cranly, answered Temple, moving out of
reach of the uplifted stave and pointing at Stephen. He's the only man
I see in this institution that has an individual mind.
--Institution! Individual! cried Cranly. Go home, blast you, for
you're a hopeless bloody man.
--I'm an emotional man, said Temple. That's quite rightly expressed.
And I'm proud that I'm an emotionalist.
He sidled out of the alley, smiling slyly. Cranly watched him with a
blank expressionless face.
--Look at him! he said. Did you ever see such a go-by-the-wall?
His phrase was greeted by a strange laugh from a student who lounged
against the wall, his peaked cap down on his eyes. The laugh, pitched
in a high key and coming from a so muscular frame, seemed like the
whinny of an elephant. The student's body shook all over and, to ease
his mirth, he rubbed both his hands delightedly over his groins.
--Lynch is awake, said Cranly.
Lynch, for answer, straightened himself and thrust forward his chest.
--Lynch puts out his chest, said Stephen, as a criticism of life.
Lynch smote himself sonorously on the chest and said:
--Who has anything to say about my girth?
Cranly took him at the word and the two began to tussle. When their
faces had flushed with the struggle they drew apart, panting. Stephen
bent down towards Davin who, intent on the game, had paid no heed to
the talk of the others.
--And how is my little tame goose? he asked. Did he sign, too?
David nodded and said:
--And you, Stevie?
Stephen shook his head.
--You're a terrible man, Stevie, said Davin, taking the short pipe
from his mouth, always alone.
--Now that you have signed the petition for universal peace, said
Stephen, I suppose you will burn that little copybook I saw in your
As Davin did not answer, Stephen began to quote:
--Long pace, fianna! Right incline, fianna! Fianna, by numbers,
salute, one, two!
--That's a different question, said Davin. I'm an Irish nationalist,
first and foremost. But that's you all out. You're a born sneerer,
--When you make the next rebellion with hurleysticks, said Stephen,
and want the indispensable informer, tell me. I can find you a few in
--I can't understand you, said Davin. One time I hear you talk against
English literature. Now you talk against the Irish informers. What with
your name and your ideas--Are you Irish at all?
--Come with me now to the office of arms and I will show you the tree
of my family, said Stephen.
--Then be one of us, said Davin. Why don't you learn Irish? Why did you
drop out of the league class after the first lesson?
--You know one reason why, answered Stephen.
Davin tossed his head and laughed.
--Oh, come now, he said. Is it on account of that certain young lady
and Father Moran? But that's all in your own mind, Stevie. They were
only talking and laughing.
Stephen paused and laid a friendly hand upon Davin's shoulder.
--Do you remember, he said, when we knew each other first? The first
morning we met you asked me to show you the way to the matriculation
class, putting a very strong stress on the first syllable. You
remember? Then you used to address the jesuits as father, you remember?
I ask myself about you: IS HE AS INNOCENT AS HIS SPEECH?
--I'm a simple person, said Davin. You know that. When you told me
that night in Harcourt Street those things about your private life,
honest to God, Stevie, I was not able to eat my dinner. I was quite
bad. I was awake a long time that night. Why did you tell me those
--Thanks, said Stephen. You mean I am a monster.
--No, said Davin. But I wish you had not told me.
A tide began to surge beneath the calm surface of Stephen's
--This race and this country and this life produced me, he said I
shall express myself as I am.
--Try to be one of us, repeated Davin. In heart you are an Irish man
but your pride is too powerful.
--My ancestors threw off their language and took another Stephen said.
They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am
going to pay in my own life and person debts they made? What for?
--For our freedom, said Davin.
--No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his
life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of
Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled
him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I'd
see you damned first.
--They died for their ideals, Stevie, said Davin. Our day will come
yet, believe me.
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant.
--The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you
of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the
body. When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets
flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality,
language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.
Davin knocked the ashes from his pipe.
--Too deep for me, Stevie, he said. But a man's country comes first.
Ireland first, Stevie. You can be a poet or a mystic after.
--Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence.
Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.
Davin rose from his box and went towards the players, shaking his head
sadly. But in a moment his sadness left him and he was hotly disputing
with Cranly and the two players who had finished their game. A match of
four was arranged, Cranly insisting, however, that his ball should be
used. He let it rebound twice or thrice to his hand and struck it strongly
and swiftly towards the base of the alley, exclaiming in answer to its
Stephen stood with Lynch till the score began to rise. Then he plucked
him by the sleeve to come away. Lynch obeyed, saying:
--Let us eke go, as Cranly has it.
Stephen smiled at this side-thrust.
They passed back through the garden and out through the hall where the
doddering porter was pinning up a hall notice in the frame. At the foot
of the steps they halted and Stephen took a packet of cigarettes from
his pocket and offered it to his companion.
--I know you are poor, he said.
--Damn your yellow insolence, answered Lynch.
This second proof of Lynch's culture made Stephen smile again.
--It was a great day for European culture, he said, when you made up
your mind to swear in yellow.
They lit their cigarettes and turned to the right. After a pause
--Aristotle has not defined pity and terror. I have. I say--
Lynch halted and said bluntly:
--Stop! I won't listen! I am sick. I was out last night on a yellow
drunk with Horan and Goggins.
Stephen went on:
--Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of
whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with
the human sufferer. Terror is the feeling which arrests the mind in the
presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and
unites it with the secret cause.
--Repeat, said Lynch.
Stephen repeated the definitions slowly.
--A girl got into a hansom a few days ago, he went on, in London. She
was on her way to meet her mother whom she had not seen for many years.
At the corner of a street the shaft of a lorry shivered the window of
the hansom in the shape of a star. A long fine needle of the shivered
glass pierced her heart. She died on the instant. The reporter called
it a tragic death. It is not. It is remote from terror and pity
according to the terms of my definitions.
--The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, towards
terror and towards pity, both of which are phases of it. You see I use
the word ARREST. I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather
the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are
kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to
something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. The arts
which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper
arts. The esthetic emotion (I used the general term) is therefore
static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.
--You say that art must not excite desire, said Lynch. I told you that
one day I wrote my name in pencil on the backside of the Venus of
Praxiteles in the Museum. Was that not desire?
--I speak of normal natures, said Stephen. You also told me that when
you were a boy in that charming carmelite school you ate pieces of
Lynch broke again into a whinny of laughter and again rubbed both his
hands over his groins but without taking them from his pockets.
--O, I did! I did! he cried.
Stephen turned towards his companion and looked at him for a moment
boldly in the eyes. Lynch, recovering from his laughter, answered his
look from his humbled eyes. The long slender flattened skull beneath
the long pointed cap brought before Stephen's mind the image of a
hooded reptile. The eyes, too, were reptile-like in glint and gaze. Yet
at that instant, humbled and alert in their look, they were lit by one
tiny human point, the window of a shrivelled soul, poignant and
--As for that, Stephen said in polite parenthesis, we are all animals.
I also am an animal.
--You are, said Lynch.
--But we are just now in a mental world, Stephen continued. The desire
and loathing excited by improper esthetic means are really not esthetic
emotions not only because they are kinetic in character but also
because they are not more than physical. Our flesh shrinks from what it
dreads and responds to the stimulus of what it desires by a purely
reflex action of the nervous system. Our eyelid closes before we are
aware that the fly is about to enter our eye.
--Not always, said Lynch critically.
--In the same way, said Stephen, your flesh responded to the stimulus
of a naked statue, but it was, I say, simply a reflex action of the
nerves. Beauty expressed by the artist cannot awaken in us an emotion
which is kinetic or a sensation which is purely physical. It awakens,
or ought to awaken, or induces, or ought to induce, an esthetic stasis,
an ideal pity or an ideal terror, a stasis called forth, prolonged, and
at last dissolved by what I call the rhythm of beauty.
--What is that exactly? asked Lynch.
--Rhythm, said Stephen, is the first formal esthetic relation of part
to part in any esthetic whole or of an esthetic whole to its part or
parts or of any part to the esthetic whole of which it is a part.
--If that is rhythm, said Lynch, let me hear what you call beauty;
and, please remember, though I did eat a cake of cowdung once, that I
admire only beauty.
Stephen raised his cap as if in greeting. Then, blushing slightly, he
laid his hand on Lynch's thick tweed sleeve.
--We are right, he said, and the others are wrong. To speak of these
things and to try to understand their nature and, having understood it,
to try slowly and humbly and constantly to express, to press out again,
from the gross earth or what it brings forth, from sound and shape and
colour which are the prison gates of our soul, an image of the beauty
we have come to understand--that is art.
They had reached the canal bridge and, turning from their course, went
on by the trees. A crude grey light, mirrored in the sluggish water and
a smell of wet branches over their heads seemed to war against the
course of Stephen's thought.
--But you have not answered my question, said Lynch. What is art? What
is the beauty it expresses?
--That was the first definition I gave you, you sleepy-headed wretch,
said Stephen, when I began to try to think out the matter for myself.
Do you remember the night? Cranly lost his temper and began to talk
about Wicklow bacon.
--I remember, said Lynch. He told us about them flaming fat devils of
--Art, said Stephen, is the human disposition of sensible or
intelligible matter for an esthetic end. You remember the pigs and
forget that. You are a distressing pair, you and Cranly.
Lynch made a grimace at the raw grey sky and said:
--If I am to listen to your esthetic philosophy give me at least
another cigarette. I don't care about it. I don't even care about
women. Damn you and damn everything. I want a job of five hundred a
year. You can't get me one.
Stephen handed him the packet of cigarettes. Lynch took the last one
that remained, saying simply:
--Aquinas, said Stephen, says that is beautiful the apprehension of
--I remember that, he said, PULCRA SUNT QUAE VISA PLACENT.
--He uses the word VISA, said Stephen, to cover esthetic apprehensions of
all kinds, whether through sight or hearing or through any other avenue of
apprehension. This word, though it is vague, is clear enough to keep
away good and evil which excite desire and loathing. It means certainly
a stasis and not a kinesis. How about the true? It produces also a
stasis of the mind. You would not write your name in pencil across the
hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.
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