A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce

Part 5 out of 5

--No, said Lynch, give me the hypotenuse of the Venus of Praxiteles.

--Static therefore, said Stephen. Plato, I believe, said that beauty
is the splendour of truth. I don't think that it has a meaning, but the
true and the beautiful are akin. Truth is beheld by the intellect which
is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible;
beauty is beheld by the imagination which is appeased by the most
satisfying relations of the sensible. The first step in the direction
of truth is to understand the frame and scope of the intellect itself,
to comprehend the act itself of intellection. Aristotle's entire system
of philosophy rests upon his book of psychology and that, I think,
rests on his statement that the same attribute cannot at the same time
and in the same connexion belong to and not belong to the same subject.
The first step in the direction of beauty is to understand the frame
and scope of the imagination, to comprehend the act itself of esthetic
apprehension. Is that clear?

--But what is beauty? asked Lynch impatiently. Out with another
definition. Something we see and like! Is that the best you and Aquinas
can do?

--Let us take woman, said Stephen.

--Let us take her! said Lynch fervently.

--The Greek, the Turk, the Chinese, the Copt, the Hottentot, said
Stephen, all admire a different type of female beauty. That seems
to be a maze out of which we cannot escape. I see, however,
two ways out. One is this hypothesis: that every physical quality
admired by men in women is in direct connexion with the manifold
functions of women for the propagation of the species. It may be so.
The world, it seems, is drearier than even you, Lynch, imagined. For my
part I dislike that way out. It leads to eugenics rather than to
esthetic. It leads you out of the maze into a new gaudy lecture-room
where MacCann, with one hand on THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES and the other hand
on the new testament, tells you that you admired the great flanks of
Venus because you felt that she would bear you burly offspring and
admired her great breasts because you felt that she would give good
milk to her children and yours.

--Then MacCann is a sulphur-yellow liar, said Lynch energetically.

--There remains another way out, said Stephen, laughing.

--To wit? said Lynch.

--This hypothesis, Stephen began.

A long dray laden with old iron came round the corner of Sir Patrick
Dun's hospital covering the end of Stephen's speech with the harsh roar
of jangled and rattling metal. Lynch closed his ears and gave out oath
after oath till the dray had passed. Then he turned on his heel rudely.
Stephen turned also and waited for a few moments till his companion's
ill-humour had had its vent.

--This hypothesis, Stephen repeated, is the other way out: that,
though the same object may not seem beautiful to all people, all people
who admire a beautiful object find in it certain relations which
satisfy and coincide with the stages themselves of all esthetic
apprehension. These relations of the sensible, visible to you through
one form and to me through another, must be therefore the necessary
qualities of beauty. Now, we can return to our old friend saint Thomas
for another pennyworth of wisdom.

Lynch laughed.

--It amuses me vastly, he said, to hear you quoting him time after
time like a jolly round friar. Are you laughing in your sleeve?

--MacAlister, answered Stephen, would call my esthetic theory applied
Aquinas. So far as this side of esthetic philosophy extends, Aquinas
will carry me all along the line. When we come to the phenomena of
artistic conception, artistic gestation, and artistic reproduction I
require a new terminology and a new personal experience.

--Of course, said Lynch. After all Aquinas, in spite of his intellect,
was exactly a good round friar. But you will tell me about the new
personal experience and new terminology some other day. Hurry up and
finish the first part.

--Who knows? said Stephen, smiling. Perhaps Aquinas would understand
me better than you. He was a poet himself. He wrote a hymn for Maundy
Thursday. It begins with the words PANGE LINGUA GLORIOSI. They say it
is the highest glory of the hymnal. It is an intricate and soothing
hymn. I like it; but there is no hymn that can be put beside that
mournful and majestic processional song, the VEXILLA REGIS of Venantius

Lynch began to sing softly and solemnly in a deep bass voice:


--That's great! he said, well pleased. Great music!

They turned into Lower Mount Street. A few steps from the corner a fat
young man, wearing a silk neckcloth, saluted them and stopped.

--Did you hear the results of the exams? he asked. Griffin was
plucked. Halpin and O'Flynn are through the home civil. Moonan got
fifth place in the Indian. O'Shaughnessy got fourteenth. The Irish
fellows in Clark's gave them a feed last night. They all ate curry.

His pallid bloated face expressed benevolent malice and, as he had
advanced through his tidings of success, his small fat-encircled eyes
vanished out of sight and his weak wheezing voice out of hearing.

In reply to a question of Stephen's his eyes and his voice came forth
again from their lurking-places.

--Yes, MacCullagh and I, he said. He's taking pure mathematics and I'm
taking constitutional history. There are twenty subjects. I'm taking
botany too. You know I'm a member of the field club.

He drew back from the other two in a stately fashion and placed a plump
woollen-gloved hand on his breast from which muttered wheezing laughter
at once broke forth.

--Bring us a few turnips and onions the next time you go out, said
Stephen drily, to make a stew.

The fat student laughed indulgently and said:

--We are all highly respectable people in the field club. Last
Saturday we went out to Glenmalure, seven of us.

--With women, Donovan? said Lynch.

Donovan again laid his hand on his chest and said:

--Our end is the acquisition of knowledge. Then he said quickly:

--I hear you are writing some essays about esthetics.

Stephen made a vague gesture of denial.

--Goethe and Lessing, said Donovan, have written a lot on that
subject, the classical school and the romantic school and all that. The
Laocoon interested me very much when I read it. Of course it is
idealistic, German, ultra-profound.

Neither of the others spoke. Donovan took leave of them urbanely.

--I must go, he said softly and benevolently, I have a strong
suspicion, amounting almost to a conviction, that my sister intended to
make pancakes today for the dinner of the Donovan family.

--Goodbye, Stephen said in his wake. Don't forget the turnips for me
and my mate.

Lynch gazed after him, his lip curling in slow scorn till his face
resembled a devil's mask:

--To think that that yellow pancake-eating excrement can get a good
job, he said at length, and I have to smoke cheap cigarettes!

They turned their faces towards Merrion Square and went for a little in

--To finish what I was saying about beauty, said Stephen, the most
satisfying relations of the sensible must therefore correspond to the
necessary phases of artistic apprehension. Find these and you find the
qualities of universal beauty. Aquinas says: AD PULCRITUDINEM TRIA
these correspond to the phases of apprehension? Are you following?

--Of course, I am, said Lynch. If you think I have an excrementitious
intelligence run after Donovan and ask him to listen to you.

Stephen pointed to a basket which a butcher's boy had slung inverted on
his head.

--Look at that basket, he said.

--I see it, said Lynch.

--In order to see that basket, said Stephen, your mind first of all
separates the basket from the rest of the visible universe which is not
the basket. The first phase of apprehension is a bounding line drawn
about the object to be apprehended. An esthetic image is presented to
us either in space or in time.

What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in
space. But, temporal or spatial, the esthetic image is first luminously
apprehended as selfbounded and selfcontained upon the immeasurable
background of space or time which is not it. You apprehended it as ONE
thing. You see it as one whole. You apprehend its wholeness. That is

--Bull's eye! said Lynch, laughing. Go on.

--Then, said Stephen, you pass from point to point, led by its formal
lines; you apprehend it as balanced part against part within its
limits; you feel the rhythm of its structure. In other words, the
synthesis of immediate perception is followed by the analysis of
apprehension. Having first felt that it is ONE thing you feel now that
it is a THING. You apprehend it as complex, multiple, divisible,
separable, made up of its parts, the result of its parts and their sum,
harmonious. That is CONSONANTIA.

--Bull's eye again! said Lynch wittily. Tell me now what is CLARITAS
and you win the cigar.

--The connotation of the word, Stephen said, is rather vague. Aquinas
uses a term which seems to be inexact. It baffled me for a long time.
It would lead you to believe that he had in mind symbolism or idealism,
the supreme quality of beauty being a light from some other world, the
idea of which the matter is but the shadow, the reality of which it is
but the symbol. I thought he might mean that CLARITAS is the artistic
discovery and representation of the divine purpose in anything or a
force of generalization which would make the esthetic image a
universal one, make it outshine its proper conditions. But that is
literary talk. I understand it so. When you have apprehended that
basket as one thing and have then analysed it according to its form and
apprehended it as a thing you make the only synthesis which is
logically and esthetically permissible. You see that it is that thing
which it is and no other thing. The radiance of which he speaks in the
scholastic QUIDDITAS, the WHATNESS of a thing. This supreme quality is
felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his
imagination. The mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened
beautifully to a fading coal. The instant wherein that supreme quality
of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended
luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and
fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic
pleasure, a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which
the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani, using a phrase almost as
beautiful as Shelley's, called the enchantment of the heart.

Stephen paused and, though his companion did not speak, felt that his
words had called up around them a thought-enchanted silence.

--What I have said, he began again, refers to beauty in the wider
sense of the word, in the sense which the word has in the literary
tradition. In the marketplace it has another sense. When we speak of
beauty in the second sense of the term our judgement is influenced in
the first place by the art itself and by the form of that art. The
image, it is clear, must be set between the mind or senses of the
artist himself and the mind or senses of others. If you bear this in
memory you will see that art necessarily divides itself into three
forms progressing from one to the next. These forms are: the lyrical
form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate
relation to himself; the epical form, the form wherein he presents his
image in mediate relation to himself and to others; the dramatic form,
the form wherein he presents his image in immediate relation to others.

--That you told me a few nights ago, said Lynch, and we began the
famous discussion.

--I have a book at home, said Stephen, in which I have written down
questions which are more amusing than yours were. In finding the
answers to them I found the theory of esthetic which I am trying to
explain. Here are some questions I set myself: IS A CHAIR FINELY MADE

--Why not, indeed? said Lynch, laughing.


--That's a lovely one, said Lynch, laughing again. That has the true
scholastic stink.

--Lessing, said Stephen, should not have taken a group of statues to
write of. The art, being inferior, does not present the forms I spoke
of distinguished clearly one from another. Even in literature, the
highest and most spiritual art, the forms are often confused. The
lyrical form is in fact the simplest verbal vesture of an instant of
emotion, a rhythmical cry such as ages ago cheered on the man who pulled
at the oar or dragged stones up a slope. He who utters it is more
conscious of the instant of emotion than of himself as feeling emotion.
The simplest epical form is seen emerging out of lyrical literature
when the artist prolongs and broods upon himself as the centre of an
epical event and this form progresses till the centre of emotional
gravity is equidistant from the artist himself and from others. The
narrative is no longer purely personal. The personality of the artist
passes into the narration itself, flowing round and round the persons
and the action like a vital sea. This progress you will see easily in
that old English ballad TURPIN HERO which begins in the first person
and ends in the third person. The dramatic form is reached when the
vitality which has flowed and eddied round each person fills every
person with such vital force that he or she assumes a proper and
intangible esthetic life. The personality of the artist, at first a cry
or a cadence or a mood and then a fluid and lambent narrative, finally
refines itself out of existence, impersonalizes itself, so to speak.
The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and
reprojected from the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic, like
that of material creation, is accomplished. The artist, like the God of
creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork,
invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his

--Trying to refine them also out of existence, said Lynch.

A fine rain began to fall from the high veiled sky and they turned into
the duke's lawn to reach the national library before the shower came.

--What do you mean, Lynch asked surlily, by prating about beauty and
the imagination in this miserable Godforsaken island? No wonder the
artist retired within or behind his handiwork after having perpetrated
this country.

The rain fell faster. When they passed through the passage beside
Kildare house they found many students sheltering under the arcade of
the library. Cranly, leaning against a pillar, was picking his teeth
with a sharpened match, listening to some companions. Some girls stood
near the entrance door. Lynch whispered to Stephen:

--Your beloved is here.

Stephen took his place silently on the step below the group of
students, heedless of the rain which fell fast, turning his eyes
towards her from time to time. She too stood silently among her
companions. She has no priest to flirt with, he thought with conscious
bitterness, remembering how he had seen her last. Lynch was right. His
mind emptied of theory and courage, lapsed back into a listless peace.

He heard the students talking among themselves. They spoke of two
friends who had passed the final medical examination, of the chances of
getting places on ocean liners, of poor and rich practices.

--That's all a bubble. An Irish country practice is better.

--Hynes was two years in Liverpool and he says the same. A frightful
hole he said it was. Nothing but midwifery cases.

--Do you mean to say it is better to have a job here in the country
than in a rich city like that? I know a fellow...

--Hynes has no brains. He got through by stewing, pure stewing.

--Don't mind him. There's plenty of money to be made in a big commercial

--Depends on the practice.


Their voices reached his ears as if from a distance in interrupted
pulsation. She was preparing to go away with her companions.

The quick light shower had drawn off, tarrying in clusters of diamonds
among the shrubs of the quadrangle where an exhalation was breathed
forth by the blackened earth. Their trim boots prattled as they stood
on the steps of the colonnade, talking quietly and gaily, glancing at
the clouds, holding their umbrellas at cunning angles against the few
last raindrops, closing them again, holding their skirts demurely.

And if he had judged her harshly? If her life were a simple rosary of
hours, her life simple and strange as a bird's life, gay in the
morning, restless all day, tired at sundown? Her heart simple and
wilful as a bird's heart?

* * * * *

Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet.
Over his limbs in sleep pale cool waves of light had passed. He lay
still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet
music. His mind was waking slowly to a tremulous morning knowledge, a
morning inspiration. A spirit filled him, pure as the purest water,
sweet as dew, moving as music. But how faintly it was inbreathed, how
passionlessly, as if the seraphim themselves were breathing upon him!
His soul was waking slowly, fearing to awake wholly. It was that
windless hour of dawn when madness wakes and strange plants open to the
light and the moth flies forth silently.

An enchantment of the heart! The night had been enchanted. In a dream
or vision he had known the ecstasy of seraphic life. Was it an instant
of enchantment only or long hours and years and ages?

The instant of inspiration seemed now to be reflected from all sides at
once from a multitude of cloudy circumstances of what had happened or
of what might have happened. The instant flashed forth like a point of
light and now from cloud on cloud of vague circumstance confused form
was veiling softly its afterglow. O! In the virgin womb of the
imagination the word was made flesh. Gabriel the seraph had come to the
virgin's chamber. An afterglow deepened within his spirit, whence the
white flame had passed, deepening to a rose and ardent light. That rose
and ardent light was her strange wilful heart, strange that no man had
known or would know, wilful from before the beginning of the world; and
lured by that ardent rose-like glow the choirs of the seraphim were
falling from heaven.

Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

The verses passed from his mind to his lips and, murmuring them over,
he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them. The
rose-like glow sent forth its rays of rhyme; ways, days, blaze, praise,
raise. Its rays burned up the world, consumed the hearts of men and
angels: the rays from the rose that was her wilful heart.

Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

And then? The rhythm died away, ceased, began again to move and beat.
And then? Smoke, incense ascending from the altar of the world.

Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Smoke went up from the whole earth, from the vapoury oceans, smoke of
her praise. The earth was like a swinging swaying censer, a ball of
incense, an ellipsoidal fall. The rhythm died out at once; the cry of
his heart was broken. His lips began to murmur the first verses over
and over; then went on stumbling through half verses, stammering and
baffled; then stopped. The heart's cry was broken.

The veiled windless hour had passed and behind the panes of the naked
window the morning light was gathering. A bell beat faintly very far
away. A bird twittered; two birds, three. The bell and the bird ceased;
and the dull white light spread itself east and west, covering the
world, covering the roselight in his heart.

Fearing to lose all, he raised himself suddenly on his elbow to look
for paper and pencil. There was neither on the table; only the soup
plate he had eaten the rice from for supper and the candlestick with
its tendrils of tallow and its paper socket, singed by the last flame.
He stretched his arm wearily towards the foot of the bed, groping with
his hand in the pockets of the coat that hung there. His fingers found
a pencil and then a cigarette packet. He lay back and, tearing open the
packet, placed the last cigarette on the window ledge and began to
write out the stanzas of the villanelle in small neat letters on the
rough cardboard surface.

Having written them out he lay back on the lumpy pillow, murmuring them
again. The lumps of knotted flock under his head reminded him of the
lumps of knotted horsehair in the sofa of her parlour on which he used
to sit, smiling or serious, asking himself why he had come, displeased
with her and with himself, confounded by the print of the Sacred Heart
above the untenanted sideboard. He saw her approach him in a lull of
the talk and beg him to sing one of his curious songs. Then he saw
himself sitting at the old piano, striking chords softly from its
speckled keys and singing, amid the talk which had risen again in the
room, to her who leaned beside the mantelpiece a dainty song of the
Elizabethans, a sad and sweet loth to depart, the victory chant of
Agincourt, the happy air of Greensleeves. While he sang and she
listened, or feigned to listen, his heart was at rest but when the
quaint old songs had ended and he heard again the voices in the room he
remembered his own sarcasm: the house where young men are called by
their christian names a little too soon.

At certain instants her eyes seemed about to trust him but he had
waited in vain. She passed now dancing lightly across his memory as she
had been that night at the carnival ball, her white dress a little
lifted, a white spray nodding in her hair. She danced lightly in the
round. She was dancing towards him and, as she came, her eyes were a
little averted and a faint glow was on her cheek. At the pause in the
chain of hands her hand had lain in his an instant, a soft merchandise.

--You are a great stranger now.

--Yes. I was born to be a monk.

--I am afraid you are a heretic.

--Are you much afraid?

For answer she had danced away from him along the chain of hands,
dancing lightly and discreetly, giving herself to none. The white spray
nodded to her dancing and when she was in shadow the glow was deeper on
her cheek.

A monk! His own image started forth a profaner of the cloister, a
heretic franciscan, willing and willing not to serve, spinning like
Gherardino da Borgo San Donnino, a lithe web of sophistry and
whispering in her ear.

No, it was not his image. It was like the image of the young priest in
whose company he had seen her last, looking at him out of dove's eyes,
toying with the pages of her Irish phrase-book.

--Yes, yes, the ladies are coming round to us. I can see it every day.
The ladies are with us. The best helpers the language has.

--And the church, Father Moran?

--The church too. Coming round too. The work is going ahead there too.
Don't fret about the church.

Bah! he had done well to leave the room in disdain. He had done well
not to salute her on the steps of the library! He had done well to
leave her to flirt with her priest, to toy with a church which was the
scullery-maid of christendom.

Rude brutal anger routed the last lingering instant of ecstasy from his
soul. It broke up violently her fair image and flung the fragments on
all sides. On all sides distorted reflections of her image started from
his memory: the flower girl in the ragged dress with damp coarse hair
and a hoyden's face who had called herself his own girl and begged his
handsel, the kitchen-girl in the next house who sang over the clatter
of her plates, with the drawl of a country singer, the first bars of BY
KILLARNEY'S LAKES AND FELLS, a girl who had laughed gaily to see him
stumble when the iron grating in the footpath near Cork Hill had caught
the broken sole of his shoe, a girl he had glanced at, attracted by her
small ripe mouth, as she passed out of Jacob's biscuit factory, who had
cried to him over her shoulder:

--Do you like what you seen of me, straight hair and curly eyebrows?

And yet he felt that, however he might revile and mock her image, his
anger was also a form of homage. He had left the classroom in disdain
that was not wholly sincere, feeling that perhaps the secret of her
race lay behind those dark eyes upon which her long lashes flung a
quick shadow. He had told himself bitterly as he walked through the
streets that she was a figure of the womanhood of her country, a bat-like
soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and
loneliness, tarrying awhile, loveless and sinless, with her mild lover and
leaving him to whisper of innocent transgressions in the latticed ear of a
priest. His anger against her found vent in coarse railing at her
paramour, whose name and voice and features offended his baffled pride: a
priested peasant, with a brother a policeman in Dublin and a brother a
potboy in Moycullen. To him she would unveil her soul's shy nakedness, to
one who was but schooled in the discharging of a formal rite rather than
to him, a priest of the eternal imagination, transmuting the daily bread
of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.

The radiant image of the eucharist united again in an instant his
bitter and despairing thoughts, their cries arising unbroken in a hymn
of thanksgiving.

Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.

He spoke the verses aloud from the first lines till the music and
rhythm suffused his mind, turning it to quiet indulgence; then copied
them painfully to feel them the better by seeing them; then lay back on
his bolster.

The full morning light had come. No sound was to be heard; but he knew
that all around him life was about to awaken in common noises, hoarse
voices, sleepy prayers. Shrinking from that life he turned towards the
wall, making a cowl of the blanket and staring at the great overblown
scarlet flowers of the tattered wallpaper. He tried to warm his
perishing joy in their scarlet glow, imagining a roseway from where he
lay upwards to heaven all strewn with scarlet flowers. Weary! Weary! He
too was weary of ardent ways.

A gradual warmth, a languorous weariness passed over him descending
along his spine from his closely cowled head. He felt it descend and,
seeing himself as he lay, smiled. Soon he would sleep.

He had written verses for her again after ten years. Ten years before
she had worn her shawl cowlwise about her head, sending sprays of her
warm breath into the night air, tapping her foot upon the glassy road.
It was the last tram; the lank brown horses knew it and shook their
bells to the clear night in admonition. The conductor talked with the
driver, both nodding often in the green light of the lamp. They stood
on the steps of the tram, he on the upper, she on the lower. She came
up to his step many times between their phrases and went down again and
once or twice remained beside him forgetting to go down and then went
down. Let be! Let be!

Ten years from that wisdom of children to his folly. If he sent her the
verses? They would be read out at breakfast amid the tapping of
egg-shells. Folly indeed! Her brothers would laugh and try to wrest the
page from each other with their strong hard fingers. The suave priest,
her uncle, seated in his arm-chair, would hold the page at arm's
length, read it smiling and approve of the literary form.

No, no; that was folly. Even if he sent her the verses she would not
show them to others. No, no; she could not.

He began to feel that he had wronged her. A sense of her innocence
moved him almost to pity her, an innocence he had never understood till
he had come to the knowledge of it through sin, an innocence which she
too had not understood while she was innocent or before the strange
humiliation of her nature had first come upon her. Then first her soul
had begun to live as his soul had when he had first sinned, and a
tender compassion filled his heart as he remembered her frail pallor
and her eyes, humbled and saddened by the dark shame of womanhood.

While his soul had passed from ecstasy to languor where had she been?
Might it be, in the mysterious ways of spiritual life, that her soul at
those same moments had been conscious of his homage? It might be.

A glow of desire kindled again his soul and fired and fulfilled all his
body. Conscious of his desire she was waking from odorous sleep, the
temptress of his villanelle. Her eyes, dark and with a look of languor,
were opening to his eyes. Her nakedness yielded to him, radiant, warm,
odorous and lavish-limbed, enfolded him like a shining cloud, enfolded
him like water with a liquid life; and like a cloud of vapour or like
waters circumfluent in space the liquid letters of speech, symbols of
the element of mystery, flowed forth over his brain.

Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?

While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.

And still you hold our longing gaze
With languorous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

* * * * *

What birds were they? He stood on the steps of the library to look at
them, leaning wearily on his ashplant. They flew round and round the
jutting shoulder of a house in Molesworth Street. The air of the late
March evening made clear their flight, their dark quivering bodies
flying clearly against the sky as against a limp-hung cloth of smoky
tenuous blue.

He watched their flight; bird after bird: a dark flash, a swerve, a
flutter of wings. He tried to count them before all their darting
quivering bodies passed: six, ten, eleven: and wondered were they odd
or even in number. Twelve, thirteen: for two came wheeling down from the
upper sky. They were flying high and low but ever round and round in
straight and curving lines and ever flying from left to right, circling
about a temple of air.

He listened to the cries: like the squeak of mice behind the wainscot:
a shrill twofold note. But the notes were long and shrill and whirring,
unlike the cry of vermin, falling a third or a fourth and trilled as
the flying beaks clove the air. Their cry was shrill and clear and fine
and falling like threads of silken light unwound from whirring spools.

The inhuman clamour soothed his ears in which his mother's sobs and
reproaches murmured insistently and the dark frail quivering bodies
wheeling and fluttering and swerving round an airy temple of the
tenuous sky soothed his eyes which still saw the image of his mother's

Why was he gazing upwards from the steps of the porch, hearing their
shrill twofold cry, watching their flight? For an augury of good or
evil? A phrase of Cornelius Agrippa flew through his mind and then
there flew hither and thither shapeless thoughts from Swedenborg on the
correspondence of birds to things of the intellect and of how the
creatures of the air have their knowledge and know their times and
seasons because they, unlike man, are in the order of their life and
have not perverted that order by reason.

And for ages men had gazed upward as he was gazing at birds in flight.
The colonnade above him made him think vaguely of an ancient temple and
the ashplant on which he leaned wearily of the curved stick of an
augur. A sense of fear of the unknown moved in the heart of his
weariness, a fear of symbols and portents, of the hawk-like man whose
name he bore soaring out of his captivity on osier-woven wings, of
Thoth, the god of writers, writing with a reed upon a tablet and
bearing on his narrow ibis head the cusped moon.

He smiled as he thought of the god's image for it made him think of a
bottle-nosed judge in a wig, putting commas into a document which he
held at arm's length, and he knew that he would not have remembered the
god's name but that it was like an Irish oath. It was folly. But was it
for this folly that he was about to leave for ever the house of prayer
and prudence into which he had been born and the order of life out of
which he had come?

They came back with shrill cries over the jutting shoulder of the
house, flying darkly against the fading air. What birds were they? He
thought that they must be swallows who had come back from the south.
Then he was to go away for they were birds ever going and coming,
building ever an unlasting home under the eaves of men's houses and
ever leaving the homes they had built to wander.

Bend down your faces, Oona and Aleel.
I gaze upon them as the swallow gazes
Upon the nest under the eave before
He wander the loud waters.

A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory
and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading
tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying
through the sea-dusk over the flowing waters.

A soft liquid joy flowed through the words where the soft long vowels
hurtled noiselessly and fell away, lapping and flowing back and ever
shaking the white bells of their waves in mute chime and mute peal, and
soft low swooning cry; and he felt that the augury he had sought in the
wheeling darting birds and in the pale space of sky above him had come
forth from his heart like a bird from a turret, quietly and swiftly.

Symbol of departure or of loneliness? The verses crooned in the ear of
his memory composed slowly before his remembering eyes the scene of the
hall on the night of the opening of the national theatre. He was alone
at the side of the balcony, looking out of jaded eyes at the culture of
Dublin in the stalls and at the tawdry scene-cloths and human dolls
framed by the garish lamps of the stage. A burly policeman sweated behind
him and seemed at every moment about to act. The catcalls and hisses and
mocking cries ran in rude gusts round the hall from his scattered fellow

--A libel on Ireland!

--Made in Germany.


--We never sold our faith!

--No Irish woman ever did it!

--We want no amateur atheists.

--We want no budding buddhists.

A sudden swift hiss fell from the windows above him and he knew that
the electric lamps had been switched on in the reader's room. He turned
into the pillared hall, now calmly lit, went up the staircase and
passed in through the clicking turnstile.

Cranly was sitting over near the dictionaries. A thick book, opened at
the frontispiece, lay before him on the wooden rest. He leaned back in
his chair, inclining his ear like that of a confessor to the face of
the medical student who was reading to him a problem from the chess
page of a journal. Stephen sat down at his right and the priest at the
other side of the table closed his copy of THE TABLET with an angry
snap and stood up.

Cranly gazed after him blandly and vaguely. The medical student went on
in a softer voice:

--Pawn to king's fourth.

--We had better go, Dixon, said Stephen in warning. He has gone to

Dixon folded the journal and rose with dignity, saying:

--Our men retired in good order.

--With guns and cattle, added Stephen, pointing to the titlepage of
Cranly's book on which was printed DISEASES OF THE OX.

As they passed through a lane of the tables Stephen said:

--Cranly, I want to speak to you.

Cranly did not answer or turn. He laid his book on the counter and
passed out, his well-shod feet sounding flatly on the floor. On the
staircase he paused and gazing absently at Dixon repeated:

--Pawn to king's bloody fourth.

--Put it that way if you like, Dixon said.

He had a quiet toneless voice and urbane manners and on a finger of his
plump clean hand he displayed at moments a signet ring.

As they crossed the hall a man of dwarfish stature came towards them.
Under the dome of his tiny hat his unshaven face began to smile with
pleasure and he was heard to murmur. The eyes were melancholy as those
of a monkey.

--Good evening, gentlemen, said the stubble-grown monkeyish face.

--Warm weather for March, said Cranly. They have the windows open

Dixon smiled and turned his ring. The blackish, monkey-puckered face
pursed its human mouth with gentle pleasure and its voice purred:

--Delightful weather for March. Simply delightful.

--There are two nice young ladies upstairs, captain, tired of waiting,
Dixon said.

Cranly smiled and said kindly:

--The captain has only one love: sir Walter Scott. Isn't that so,

--What are you reading now, captain? Dixon asked. THE BRIDE OF

--I love old Scott, the flexible lips said, I think he writes something
lovely. There is no writer can touch sir Walter Scott.

He moved a thin shrunken brown hand gently in the air in time to his
praise and his thin quick eyelids beat often over his sad eyes.

Sadder to Stephen's ear was his speech: a genteel accent, low and
moist, marred by errors, and, listening to it, he wondered was the
story true and was the thin blood that flowed in his shrunken frame
noble and come of an incestuous love?

The park trees were heavy with rain; and rain fell still and ever in
the lake, lying grey like a shield. A game of swans flew there and the
water and the shore beneath were fouled with their green-white slime.
They embraced softly, impelled by the grey rainy light, the wet
silent trees, the shield-like witnessing lake, the swans. They embraced
without joy or passion, his arm about his sister's neck. A grey woollen
cloak was wrapped athwart her from her shoulder to her waist and her
fair head was bent in willing shame. He had loose red-brown hair and
tender shapely strong freckled hands. Face? There was no face seen. The
brother's face was bent upon her fair rain-fragrant hair. The hand
freckled and strong and shapely and caressing was Davin's hand.

He frowned angrily upon his thought and on the shrivelled mannikin who
had called it forth. His father's jibes at the Bantry gang leaped out
of his memory. He held them at a distance and brooded uneasily on his
own thought again. Why were they not Cranly's hands? Had Davin's
simplicity and innocence stung him more secretly?

He walked on across the hall with Dixon, leaving Cranly to take leave
elaborately of the dwarf.

Under the colonnade Temple was standing in the midst of a little group
of students. One of them cried:

--Dixon, come over till you hear. Temple is in grand form.

Temple turned on him his dark gipsy eyes.

--You're a hypocrite, O'Keeffe, he said. And Dixon is a smiler. By
hell, I think that's a good literary expression.

He laughed slyly, looking in Stephen's face, repeating:

--By hell, I'm delighted with that name. A smiler.

A stout student who stood below them on the steps said:

--Come back to the mistress, Temple. We want to hear about that.

--He had, faith, Temple said. And he was a married man too. And all the
priests used to be dining there. By hell, I think they all had a touch.

--We shall call it riding a hack to spare the hunter, said Dixon.

--Tell us, Temple, O'Keeffe said, how many quarts of porter have you
in you?

--All your intellectual soul is in that phrase, O'Keeffe, said Temple
with open scorn.

He moved with a shambling gait round the group and spoke to Stephen.

--Did you know that the Forsters are the kings of Belgium? he asked.

Cranly came out through the door of the entrance hall, his hat thrust
back on the nape of his neck and picking his teeth with care.

--And here's the wiseacre, said Temple. Do you know that about the

He paused for an answer. Cranly dislodged a figseed from his teeth on
the point of his rude toothpick and gazed at it intently.

--The Forster family, Temple said, is descended from Baldwin the
First, king of Flanders. He was called the Forester. Forester and
Forster are the same name. A descendant of Baldwin the First, captain
Francis Forster, settled in Ireland and married the daughter of the
last chieftain of Clanbrassil. Then there are the Blake Forsters.
That's a different branch.

--From Baldhead, king of Flanders, Cranly repeated, rooting again
deliberately at his gleaming uncovered teeth.

--Where did you pick up all that history? O'Keeffe asked.

--I know all the history of your family, too, Temple said, turning to
Stephen. Do you know what Giraldus Cambrensis says about your family?

--Is he descended from Baldwin too? asked a tall consumptive student
with dark eyes.

--Baldhead, Cranly repeated, sucking at a crevice in his teeth.


The stout student who stood below them on the steps farted briefly. Dixon
turned towards him, saying in a soft voice:

--Did an angel speak?

Cranly turned also and said vehemently but without anger:

--Goggins, you're the flamingest dirty devil I ever met, do you know.

--I had it on my mind to say that, Goggins answered firmly. It did no
one any harm, did it?

--We hope, Dixon said suavely, that it was not of the kind known to
science as a PAULO POST FUTURUM.

--Didn't I tell you he was a smiler? said Temple, turning right and
left. Didn't I give him that name?

--You did. We're not deaf, said the tall consumptive.

Cranly still frowned at the stout student below him. Then, with a snort
of disgust, he shoved him violently down the steps.

--Go away from here, he said rudely. Go away, you stinkpot. And you are a

Goggins skipped down on to the gravel and at once returned to his place
with good humour. Temple turned back to Stephen and asked:

--Do you believe in the law of heredity?

--Are you drunk or what are you or what are you trying to say? asked
Cranly, facing round on him with an expression of wonder.

--The most profound sentence ever written, Temple said with
enthusiasm, is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is
the beginning of death.

He touched Stephen timidly at the elbow and said eagerly:

--Do you feel how profound that is because you are a poet?

Cranly pointed his long forefinger.

--Look at him! he said with scorn to the others. Look at Ireland's hope!

They laughed at his words and gesture. Temple turned on him bravely,

--Cranly, you're always sneering at me. I can see that. But I am as
good as you any day. Do you know what I think about you now as compared
with myself?

--My dear man, said Cranly urbanely, you are incapable, do you know,
absolutely incapable of thinking.

--But do you know, Temple went on, what I think of you and of myself
compared together?

--Out with it, Temple! the stout student cried from the steps. Get it
out in bits!

Temple turned right and left, making sudden feeble gestures as he spoke.

--I'm a ballocks, he said, shaking his head in despair. I am and I
know I am. And I admit it that I am.

Dixon patted him lightly on the shoulder and said mildly:

--And it does you every credit, Temple.

--But he, Temple said, pointing to Cranly, he is a ballocks, too, like
me. Only he doesn't know it. And that's the only difference I see.

A burst of laughter covered his words. But he turned again to Stephen
and said with a sudden eagerness:

--That word is a most interesting word. That's the only English dual
number. Did you know?

--Is it? Stephen said vaguely.

He was watching Cranly's firm-featured suffering face, lit up now by a
smile of false patience. The gross name had passed over it like foul
water poured over an old stone image, patient of injuries; and, as he
watched him, he saw him raise his hat in salute and uncover the black
hair that stood stiffly from his forehead like an iron crown.

She passed out from the porch of the library and bowed across Stephen
in reply to Cranly's greeting. He also? Was there not a slight flush on
Cranly's cheek? Or had it come forth at Temple's words? The light had
waned. He could not see.

Did that explain his friend's listless silence, his harsh comments, the
sudden intrusions of rude speech with which he had shattered so often
Stephen's ardent wayward confessions? Stephen had forgiven freely for
he had found this rudeness also in himself. And he remembered an
evening when he had dismounted from a borrowed creaking bicycle to pray
to God in a wood near Malahide. He had lifted up his arms and spoken in
ecstasy to the sombre nave of the trees, knowing that he stood on holy
ground and in a holy hour. And when two constabulary men had come into
sight round a bend in the gloomy road he had broken off his prayer to
whistle loudly an air from the last pantomime.

He began to beat the frayed end of his ashplant against the base of a
pillar. Had Cranly not heard him? Yet he could wait. The talk about him
ceased for a moment and a soft hiss fell again from a window above. But
no other sound was in the air and the swallows whose flight he had
followed with idle eyes were sleeping.

She had passed through the dusk. And therefore the air was silent save
for one soft hiss that fell. And therefore the tongues about him had
ceased their babble. Darkness was falling.

Darkness falls from the air.

A trembling joy, lambent as a faint light, played like a fairy host
around him. But why? Her passage through the darkening air or the verse
with its black vowels and its opening sound, rich and lutelike?

He walked away slowly towards the deeper shadows at the end of the
colonnade, beating the stone softly with his stick to hide his revery
from the students whom he had left: and allowed his mind to summon back
to itself the age of Dowland and Byrd and Nash.

Eyes, opening from the darkness of desire, eyes that dimmed the
breaking east. What was their languid grace but the softness of
chambering? And what was their shimmer but the shimmer of the scum that
mantled the cesspool of the court of a slobbering Stuart. And he tasted
in the language of memory ambered wines, dying fallings of sweet airs,
the proud pavan, and saw with the eyes of memory kind gentlewomen in
Covent Garden wooing from their balconies with sucking mouths and the
pox-fouled wenches of the taverns and young wives that, gaily yielding
to their ravishers, clipped and clipped again.

The images he had summoned gave him no pleasure. They were secret and
inflaming but her image was not entangled by them. That was not the way
to think of her. It was not even the way in which he thought of her.
Could his mind then not trust itself? Old phrases, sweet only with a
disinterred sweetness like the figseeds Cranly rooted out of his
gleaming teeth.

It was not thought nor vision though he knew vaguely that her figure
was passing homeward through the city. Vaguely first and then more
sharply he smelt her body. A conscious unrest seethed in his blood.
Yes, it was her body he smelt, a wild and languid smell, the tepid
limbs over which his music had flowed desirously and the secret soft
linen upon which her flesh distilled odour and a dew.

A louse crawled over the nape of his neck and, putting his thumb and
forefinger deftly beneath his loose collar, he caught it. He rolled its
body, tender yet brittle as a grain of rice, between thumb and finger
for an instant before he let it fall from him and wondered would it
live or die. There came to his mind a curious phrase from CORNELIUS A
LAPIDE which said that the lice born of human sweat were not created by
God with the other animals on the sixth day. But the tickling of the
skin of his neck made his mind raw and red. The life of his body, ill
clad, ill fed, louse-eaten, made him close his eyelids in a sudden
spasm of despair and in the darkness he saw the brittle bright bodies
of lice falling from the air and turning often as they fell. Yes, and
it was not darkness that fell from the air. It was brightness.

Brightness falls from the air.

He had not even remembered rightly Nash's line. All the images it had
awakened were false. His mind bred vermin. His thoughts were lice born
of the sweat of sloth.

He came back quickly along the colonnade towards the group of students.
Well then, let her go and be damned to her! She could love some clean
athlete who washed himself every morning to the waist and had black
hair on his chest. Let her.

Cranly had taken another dried fig from the supply in his pocket and
was eating it slowly and noisily. Temple sat on the pediment of a
pillar, leaning back, his cap pulled down on his sleepy eyes. A squat
young man came out of the porch, a leather portfolio tucked under his
armpit. He marched towards the group, striking the flags with the heels
of his boots and with the ferrule of his heavy umbrella. Then, raising
the umbrella in salute, he said to all:

--Good evening, sirs.

He struck the flags again and tittered while his head trembled with a
slight nervous movement. The tall consumptive student and Dixon and
O'Keeffe were speaking in Irish and did not answer him. Then, turning
to Cranly, he said:

--Good evening, particularly to you.

He moved the umbrella in indication and tittered again. Cranly, who was
still chewing the fig, answered with loud movements of his jaws.

--Good? Yes. It is a good evening.

The squat student looked at him seriously and shook his umbrella gently
and reprovingly.

--I can see, he said, that you are about to make obvious remarks.

--Um, Cranly answered, holding out what remained of the half chewed
fig and jerking it towards the squat student's mouth in sign that he
should eat.

The squat student did not eat it but, indulging his special humour,
said gravely, still tittering and prodding his phrase with his

--Do you intend that... ?

He broke off, pointed bluntly to the munched pulp of the fig, and said

--I allude to that.

--Um, Cranly said as before.

--Do you intend that now, the squat student said, as IPSO FACTO or,
let us say, as so to speak?

Dixon turned aside from his group, saying:

--Goggins was waiting for you, Glynn. He has gone round to the Adelphi
to look for you and Moynihan. What have you there? he asked, tapping
the portfolio under Glynn's arm.

--Examination papers, Glynn answered. I give them monthly examinations
to see that they are profiting by my tuition.

He also tapped the portfolio and coughed gently and smiled.

--Tuition! said Cranly rudely. I suppose you mean the barefooted
children that are taught by a bloody ape like you. God help them!

He bit off the rest of the fig and flung away the butt.

--I suffer little children to come unto me, Glynn said amiably.

--A bloody ape, Cranly repeated with emphasis, and a blasphemous
bloody ape!

Temple stood up and, pushing past Cranly, addressed Glynn:

--That phrase you said now, he said, is from the new testament about
suffer the children to come to me.

--Go to sleep again, Temple, said O'Keeffe.

--Very well, then, Temple continued, still addressing Glynn, and if
Jesus suffered the children to come why does the church send them all
to hell if they die unbaptized? Why is that?

--Were you baptized yourself, Temple? the consumptive student asked.

--But why are they sent to hell if Jesus said they were all to come?
Temple said, his eyes searching Glynn's eyes.

Glynn coughed and said gently, holding back with difficulty the nervous
titter in his voice and moving his umbrella at every word:

--And, as you remark, if it is thus, I ask emphatically whence comes
this thusness.

--Because the church is cruel like all old sinners, Temple said.

--Are you quite orthodox on that point, Temple? Dixon said suavely.

--Saint Augustine says that about unbaptized children going to hell,
Temple answered, because he was a cruel old sinner too.

--I bow to you, Dixon said, but I had the impression that limbo
existed for such cases.

--Don't argue with him, Dixon, Cranly said brutally. Don't talk to him
or look at him. Lead him home with a sugan the way you'd lead a
bleating goat.

--Limbo! Temple cried. That's a fine invention too. Like hell.

--But with the unpleasantness left out, Dixon said.

He turned smiling to the others and said:

--I think I am voicing the opinions of all present in saying so much.

--You are, Glynn said in a firm tone. On that point Ireland is united.

He struck the ferrule of his umbrella on the stone floor of the

--Hell, Temple said. I can respect that invention of the grey spouse
of Satan. Hell is Roman, like the walls of the Romans, strong and ugly.
But what is limbo?

--Put him back into the perambulator, Cranly, O'Keeffe called out.

Cranly made a swift step towards Temple, halted, stamping his foot,
crying as if to a fowl:


Temple moved away nimbly.

--Do you know what limbo is? he cried. Do you know what we call a
notion like that in Roscommon?

--Hoosh! Blast you! Cranly cried, clapping his hands.

--Neither my arse nor my elbow! Temple cried out scornfully. And
that's what I call limbo.

--Give us that stick here, Cranly said.

He snatched the ashplant roughly from Stephen's hand and sprang down
the steps: but Temple, hearing him move in pursuit, fled through the
dusk like a wild creature, nimble and fleet-footed. Cranly's heavy
boots were heard loudly charging across the quadrangle and then
returning heavily, foiled and spurning the gravel at each step.

His step was angry and with an angry abrupt gesture he thrust the stick
back into Stephen's hand. Stephen felt that his anger had another cause
but, feigning patience, touched his arm slightly and said quietly:

--Cranly, I told you I wanted to speak to you. Come away.

Cranly looked at him for a few moments and asked:


--Yes, now, Stephen said. We can't speak here. Come away.

They crossed the quadrangle together without speaking. The bird call
from SIEGFRIED whistled softly followed them from the steps of the
porch. Cranly turned, and Dixon, who had whistled, called out:

--Where are you fellows off to? What about that game, Cranly?

They parleyed in shouts across the still air about a game of billiards
to be played in the Adelphi hotel. Stephen walked on alone and out into
the quiet of Kildare Street opposite Maple's hotel he stood to wait,
patient again. The name of the hotel, a colourless polished wood, and
its colourless front stung him like a glance of polite disdain. He
stared angrily back at the softly lit drawing-room of the hotel in
which he imagined the sleek lives of the patricians of Ireland housed
in calm. They thought of army commissions and land agents: peasants
greeted them along the roads in the country; they knew the names of
certain French dishes and gave orders to jarvies in high-pitched
provincial voices which pierced through their skin-tight accents.

How could he hit their conscience or how cast his shadow over the
imaginations of their daughters, before their squires begat upon them,
that they might breed a race less ignoble than their own? And under the
deepened dusk he felt the thoughts and desires of the race to which he
belonged flitting like bats across the dark country lanes, under trees
by the edges of streams and near the pool-mottled bogs. A woman had
waited in the doorway as Davin had passed by at night and, offering him
a cup of milk, had all but wooed him to her bed; for Davin had the mild
eyes of one who could be secret. But him no woman's eyes had wooed.

His arm was taken in a strong grip and Cranly's voice said:

--Let us eke go.

They walked southward in silence. Then Cranly said:

--That blithering idiot, Temple! I swear to Moses, do you know, that
I'll be the death of that fellow one time.

But his voice was no longer angry and Stephen wondered was he thinking
of her greeting to him under the porch.

They turned to the left and walked on as before. When they had gone on
so for some time Stephen said:

--Cranly, I had an unpleasant quarrel this evening.

--With your people? Cranly asked.

--With my mother.

--About religion?

--Yes, Stephen answered.

After a pause Cranly asked:

--What age is your mother?

--Not old, Stephen said. She wishes me to make my easter duty.

--And will you?

--I will not, Stephen said.

--Why not? Cranly said.

--I will not serve, answered Stephen.

--That remark was made before, Cranly said calmly.

--It is made behind now, said Stephen hotly.

Cranly pressed Stephen's arm, saying:

--Go easy, my dear man. You're an excitable bloody man, do you know.

He laughed nervously as he spoke and, looking up into Stephen's face
with moved and friendly eyes, said:

--Do you know that you are an excitable man?

--I daresay I am, said Stephen, laughing also.

Their minds, lately estranged, seemed suddenly to have been drawn
closer, one to the other.

--Do you believe in the eucharist? Cranly asked.

--I do not, Stephen said.

--Do you disbelieve then?

--I neither believe in it nor disbelieve in it, Stephen answered.

--Many persons have doubts, even religious persons, yet they overcome
them or put them aside, Cranly said. Are your doubts on that point too

--I do not wish to overcome them, Stephen answered.

Cranly, embarrassed for a moment, took another fig from his pocket and
was about to eat it when Stephen said:

--Don't, please. You cannot discuss this question with your mouth full
of chewed fig.

Cranly examined the fig by the light of a lamp under which he halted.
Then he smelt it with both nostrils, bit a tiny piece, spat it out and
threw the fig rudely into the gutter.

Addressing it as it lay, he said:

--Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!

Taking Stephen's arms, he went on again and said:

--Do you not fear that those words may be spoken to you on the day of

--What is offered me on the other hand? Stephen asked. An eternity of
bliss in the company of the dean of studies?

--Remember, Cranly said, that he would be glorified.

--Ay, Stephen said somewhat bitterly, bright, agile, impassible and,
above all, subtle.

--It is a curious thing, do you know, Cranly said dispassionately, how
your mind is supersaturated with the religion in which you say you
disbelieve. Did you believe in it when you were at school? I bet you

--I did, Stephen answered.

--And were you happier then? Cranly asked softly, happier than you are
now, for instance?

--Often happy, Stephen said, and often unhappy. I was someone else

--How someone else? What do you mean by that statement?

--I mean, said Stephen, that I was not myself as I am now, as I had to

--Not as you are now, not as you had to become, Cranly repeated. Let
me ask you a question. Do you love your mother?

Stephen shook his head slowly.

--I don't know what your words mean, he said simply.

--Have you never loved anyone? Cranly asked.

--Do you mean women?

--I am not speaking of that, Cranly said in a colder tone. I ask you
if you ever felt love towards anyone or anything?

Stephen walked on beside his friend, staring gloomily at the footpath.

--I tried to love God, he said at length. It seems now I failed. It is
very difficult. I tried to unite my will with the will of God instant
by instant. In that I did not always fail. I could perhaps do that

Cranly cut him short by asking:

--Has your mother had a happy life?

--How do I know? Stephen said.

--How many children had she?

--Nine or ten, Stephen answered. Some died.

--Was your father... Cranly interrupted himself for an instant, and then
said: I don't want to pry into your family affairs. But was your father
what is called well-to-do? I mean, when you were growing up?

--Yes, Stephen said.

--What was he? Cranly asked after a pause.

Stephen began to enumerate glibly his father's attributes.

--A medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur actor, a shouting
politician, a small landlord, a small investor, a drinker, a good
fellow, a story-teller, somebody's secretary, something in a
distillery, a tax-gatherer, a bankrupt and at present a praiser of his
own past.

Cranly laughed, tightening his grip on Stephen's arm, and said:

--The distillery is damn good.

--Is there anything else you want to know? Stephen asked.

--Are you in good circumstances at present?

--Do I look it? Stephen asked bluntly.

--So then, Cranly went on musingly, you were born in the lap of luxury.

He used the phrase broadly and loudly as he often used technical
expressions, as if he wished his hearer to understand that they were
used by him without conviction.

--Your mother must have gone through a good deal of suffering, he said
then. Would you not try to save her from suffering more even if... or would

--If I could, Stephen said, that would cost me very little.

--Then do so, Cranly said. Do as she wishes you to do. What is it for
you? You disbelieve in it. It is a form: nothing else. And you will set
her mind at rest.

He ceased and, as Stephen did not reply, remained silent. Then, as if
giving utterance to the process of his own thought, he said:

--Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a
mother's love is not. Your mother brings you into the world, carries
you first in her body. What do we know about what she feels? But
whatever she feels, it, at least, must be real. It must be. What are
our ideas or ambitions? Play. Ideas! Why, that bloody bleating goat
Temple has ideas. MacCann has ideas too. Every jackass going the roads
thinks he has ideas.

Stephen, who had been listening to the unspoken speech behind the
words, said with assumed carelessness:

--Pascal, if I remember rightly, would not suffer his mother to kiss
him as he feared the contact of her sex.

--Pascal was a pig, said Cranly.

--Aloysius Gonzaga, I think, was of the same mind, Stephen said.

--And he was another pig then, said Cranly.

--The church calls him a saint, Stephen objected.

--I don't care a flaming damn what anyone calls him, Cranly said rudely
and flatly. I call him a pig.

Stephen, preparing the words neatly in his mind, continued:

--Jesus, too, seems to have treated his mother with scant courtesy in
public but Suarez, a jesuit theologian and Spanish gentleman, has
apologized for him.

--Did the idea ever occur to you, Cranly asked, that Jesus was not
what he pretended to be?

--The first person to whom that idea occurred, Stephen answered, was
Jesus himself.

--I mean, Cranly said, hardening in his speech, did the idea ever
occur to you that he was himself a conscious hypocrite, what he called
the jews of his time, a whited sepulchre? Or, to put it more plainly,
that he was a blackguard?

--That idea never occurred to me, Stephen answered. But I am curious
to know are you trying to make a convert of me or a pervert of

He turned towards his friend's face and saw there a raw smile which
some force of will strove to make finely significant.

Cranly asked suddenly in a plain sensible tone:

--Tell me the truth. Were you at all shocked by what I said?

--Somewhat, Stephen said.

--And why were you shocked, Cranly pressed on in the same tone, if you
feel sure that our religion is false and that Jesus was not the son of

--I am not at all sure of it, Stephen said. He is more like a son of
God than a son of Mary.

--And is that why you will not communicate, Cranly asked, because you
are not sure of that too, because you feel that the host, too, may be
the body and blood of the son of God and not a wafer of bread? And
because you fear that it may be?

--Yes, Stephen said quietly, I feel that and I also fear it.

--I see, Cranly said.

Stephen, struck by his tone of closure, reopened the discussion at once
by saying:

--I fear many things: dogs, horses, fire-arms, the sea,
thunder-storms, machinery, the country roads at night.

--But why do you fear a bit of bread?

--I imagine, Stephen said, that there is a malevolent reality behind
those things I say I fear.

--Do you fear then, Cranly asked, that the God of the Roman catholics
would strike you dead and damn you if you made a sacrilegious

--The God of the Roman catholics could do that now, Stephen said. I fear
more than that the chemical action which would be set up in my soul by
a false homage to a symbol behind which are massed twenty centuries of
authority and veneration.

--Would you, Cranly asked, in extreme danger, commit that particular
sacrilege? For instance, if you lived in the penal days?

--I cannot answer for the past, Stephen replied. Possibly not.

--Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?

--I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I
had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake
an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is
illogical and incoherent?

They had walked on towards the township of Pembroke and now, as they
went on slowly along the avenues, the trees and the scattered lights in
the villas soothed their minds. The air of wealth and repose diffused
about them seemed to comfort their neediness. Behind a hedge of laurel
a light glimmered in the window of a kitchen and the voice of a servant
was heard singing as she sharpened knives. She sang, in short broken

Rosie O'Grady.

Cranly stopped to listen, saying:


The soft beauty of the Latin word touched with an enchanting touch the
dark of the evening, with a touch fainter and more persuading than the
touch of music or of a woman's hand. The strife of their minds was
quelled. The figure of a woman as she appears in the liturgy of the
church passed silently through the darkness: a white-robed figure,
small and slender as a boy, and with a falling girdle. Her voice, frail
and high as a boy's, was heard intoning from a distant choir the first
words of a woman which pierce the gloom and clamour of the first
chanting of the passion:


And all hearts were touched and turned to her voice, shining like a
young star, shining clearer as the voice intoned the proparoxytone and
more faintly as the cadence died.

The singing ceased. They went on together, Cranly repeating in strongly
stressed rhythm the end of the refrain:

And when we are married,
O, how happy we'll be
For I love sweet Rosie O'Grady
And Rosie O'Grady loves me.

--There's real poetry for you, he said. There's real love.

He glanced sideways at Stephen with a strange smile and said:

--Do you consider that poetry? Or do you know what the words mean?

--I want to see Rosie first, said Stephen.

--She's easy to find, Cranly said.

His hat had come down on his forehead. He shoved it back and in the
shadow of the trees Stephen saw his pale face, framed by the dark, and
his large dark eyes. Yes. His face was handsome and his body was strong
and hard. He had spoken of a mother's love. He felt then the sufferings
of women, the weaknesses of their bodies and souls; and would shield
them with a strong and resolute arm and bow his mind to them.

Away then: it is time to go. A voice spoke softly to Stephen's lonely
heart, bidding him go and telling him that his friendship was coming to
an end. Yes; he would go. He could not strive against another. He knew
his part.

--Probably I shall go away, he said.

--Where? Cranly asked.

--Where I can, Stephen said.

--Yes, Cranly said. It might be difficult for you to live here now.
But is it that makes you go?

--I have to go, Stephen answered.

--Because, Cranly continued, you need not look upon yourself as driven
away if you do not wish to go or as a heretic or an outlaw. There are
many good believers who think as you do. Would that surprise you? The
church is not the stone building nor even the clergy and their dogmas.
It is the whole mass of those born into it. I don't know what you wish
to do in life. Is it what you told me the night we were standing
outside Harcourt Street station?

--Yes, Stephen said, smiling in spite of himself at Cranly's way of
remembering thoughts in connexion with places. The night you spent half
an hour wrangling with Doherty about the shortest way from Sallygap to

--Pothead! Cranly said with calm contempt. What does he know about the
way from Sallygap to Larras? Or what does he know about anything for
that matter? And the big slobbering washing-pot head of him!

He broke into a loud long laugh.

--Well? Stephen said. Do you remember the rest?

--What you said, is it? Cranly asked. Yes, I remember it. To discover the
mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in
unfettered freedom.

Stephen raised his hat in acknowledgement.

--Freedom! Cranly repeated. But you are not free enough yet to commit
a sacrilege. Tell me would you rob?

--I would beg first, Stephen said.

--And if you got nothing, would you rob?

--You wish me to say, Stephen answered, that the rights of property
are provisional, and that in certain circumstances it is not unlawful
to rob. Everyone would act in that belief. So I will not make you that
answer. Apply to the jesuit theologian, Juan Mariana de Talavera, who
will also explain to you in what circumstances you may lawfully Kill
your king and whether you had better hand him his poison in a goblet or
smear it for him upon his robe or his saddlebow. Ask me rather would I
suffer others to rob me, or if they did, would I call down upon them
what I believe is called the chastisement of the secular arm?

--And would you?

--I think, Stephen said, it would pain me as much to do so as to be

--I see, Cranly said.

He produced his match and began to clean the crevice between two teeth.
Then he said carelessly:

--Tell me, for example, would you deflower a virgin?

--Excuse me, Stephen said politely, is that not the ambition of most
young gentlemen?

--What then is your point of view? Cranly asked.

His last phrase, sour smelling as the smoke of charcoal and
disheartening, excited Stephen's brain, over which its fumes seemed to

--Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and
what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not
do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call
itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express
myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as
I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use--
silence, exile, and cunning.

Cranly seized his arm and steered him round so as to lead him back
towards Leeson Park. He laughed almost slyly and pressed Stephen's arm
with an elder's affection.

--Cunning indeed! he said. Is it you? You poor poet, you!

--And you made me confess to you, Stephen said, thrilled by his touch,
as I have confessed to you so many other things, have I not?

--Yes, my child, Cranly said, still gaily.

--You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also
what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for
another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to
make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps
as long as eternity too.

Cranly, now grave again, slowed his pace and said:

--Alone, quite alone. You have no fear of that. And you know what that
word means? Not only to be separate from all others but to have not
even one friend.

--I will take the risk, said Stephen.

--And not to have any one person, Cranly said, who would be more than
a friend, more even than the noblest and truest friend a man ever had.

His words seemed to have struck some deep chord in his own nature. Had
he spoken of himself, of himself as he was or wished to be? Stephen
watched his face for some moments in silence. A cold sadness was there.
He had spoken of himself, of his own loneliness which he feared.

--Of whom are you speaking? Stephen asked at length.

Cranly did not answer.

* * * * *

MARCH 20. Long talk with Cranly on the subject of my revolt.

He had his grand manner on. I supple and suave. Attacked me on the
score of love for one's mother. Tried to imagine his mother: cannot.
Told me once, in a moment of thoughtlessness, his father was sixty-one
when he was born. Can see him. Strong farmer type. Pepper and salt
suit. Square feet. Unkempt, grizzled beard. Probably attends coursing
matches. Pays his dues regularly but not plentifully to Father Dwyer of
Larras. Sometimes talks to girls after nightfall. But his mother? Very
young or very old? Hardly the first. If so, Cranly would not have
spoken as he did. Old then. Probably, and neglected. Hence Cranly's
despair of soul: the child of exhausted loins.

MARCH 21, MORNING. Thought this in bed last night but was too lazy and
free to add to it. Free, yes. The exhausted loins are those of
Elizabeth and Zacchary. Then he is the precursor. Item: he eats chiefly
belly bacon and dried figs. Read locusts and wild honey. Also, when
thinking of him, saw always a stern severed head or death mask as if
outlined on a grey curtain or veronica. Decollation they call it in the
gold. Puzzled for the moment by saint John at the Latin gate. What do I
see? A decollated percursor trying to pick the lock.

MARCH 21, NIGHT. Free. Soul free and fancy free. Let the dead bury the
dead. Ay. And let the dead marry the dead.

MARCH 22. In company with Lynch followed a sizeable hospital nurse.
Lynch's idea. Dislike it. Two lean hungry greyhounds walking after a

MARCH 23. Have not seen her since that night. Unwell? Sits at the fire
perhaps with mamma's shawl on her shoulders. But not peevish. A nice
bowl of gruel? Won't you now?

MARCH 24. Began with a discussion with my mother. Subject: B.V.M.
Handicapped by my sex and youth. To escape held up relations between
Jesus and Papa against those between Mary and her son. Said religion
was not a lying-in hospital. Mother indulgent. Said I have a queer mind
and have read too much. Not true. Have read little and understood less.
Then she said I would come back to faith because I had a restless mind.
This means to leave church by back door of sin and re-enter through the
skylight of repentance. Cannot repent. Told her so and asked for
sixpence. Got threepence.

Then went to college. Other wrangle with little round head rogue's eye
Ghezzi. This time about Bruno the Nolan. Began in Italian and ended in
pidgin English. He said Bruno was a terrible heretic. I said he was
terribly burned. He agreed to this with some sorrow. Then gave me
recipe for what he calls RISOTTO ALLA BERGAMASCA. When he pronounces a
soft O he protrudes his full carnal lips as if he kissed the vowel. Has
he? And could he repent? Yes, he could: and cry two round rogue's
tears, one from each eye.

Crossing Stephen's, that is, my green, remembered that his countrymen
and not mine had invented what Cranly the other night called our
religion. A quartet of them, soldiers of the ninety-seventh infantry
regiment, sat at the foot of the cross and tossed up dice for the
overcoat of the crucified.

Went to library. Tried to read three reviews. Useless. She is not out
yet. Am I alarmed? About what? That she will never be out again.

Blake wrote:

I wonder if William Bond will die
For assuredly he is very ill.

Alas, poor William!

I was once at a diorama in Rotunda. At the end were pictures of big
nobs. Among them William Ewart Gladstone, just then dead. Orchestra

A race of clodhoppers!

MARCH 25, MORNING. A troubled night of dreams. Want to get them off my

A long curving gallery. From the floor ascend pillars of dark vapours.
It is peopled by the images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their
hands are folded upon their knees in token of weariness and their eyes
are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark

Strange figures advance as from a cave. They are not as tall as men.
One does not seem to stand quite apart from another. Their faces are
phosphorescent, with darker streaks. They peer at me and their eyes
seem to ask me something. They do not speak.

MARCH 30. This evening Cranly was in the porch of the library,
proposing a problem to Dixon and her brother. A mother let her child
fall into the Nile. Still harping on the mother. A crocodile seized the
child. Mother asked it back. Crocodile said all right if she told him
what he was going to do with the child, eat it or not eat It.

This mentality, Lepidus would say, is indeed bred out of your mud by
the operation of your sun.

And mine? Is it not too? Then into Nile mud with it!

APRIL 1. Disapprove of this last phrase.

APRIL 2. Saw her drinking tea and eating cakes in Johnston's, Mooney
and O'Brien's. Rather, lynx-eyed Lynch saw her as we passed. He tells
me Cranly was invited there by brother. Did he bring his crocodile? Is
he the shining light now? Well, I discovered him. I protest I did.
Shining quietly behind a bushel of Wicklow bran.

APRIL 3. Met Davin at the cigar shop opposite Findlater's church. He
was in a black sweater and had a hurley stick. Asked me was it true I
was going away and why. Told him the shortest way to Tara was VIA
Holyhead. Just then my father came up. Introduction. Father polite and
observant. Asked Davin if he might offer him some refreshment. Davin
could not, was going to a meeting. When we came away father told me he
had a good honest eye. Asked me why I did not join a rowing club. I
pretended to think it over. Told me then how he broke Pennyfeather's
heart. Wants me to read law. Says I was cut out for that. More mud,
more crocodiles.

APRIL 5. Wild spring. Scudding clouds. O life! Dark stream of swirling
bogwater on which apple-trees have cast down their delicate flowers.
Eyes of girls among the leaves. Girls demure and romping. All fair or
auburn: no dark ones. They blush better. Houpla!

APRIL 6. Certainly she remembers the past. Lynch says all women do.
Then she remembers the time of her childhood--and mine, if I was ever
a child. The past is consumed in the present and the present is living
only because it brings forth the future. Statues of women, if Lynch be
right, should always be fully draped, one hand of the woman feeling
regretfully her own hinder parts.

APRIL 6, LATER. Michael Robartes remembers forgotten beauty and, when
his arms wrap her round, he presses in his arms the loveliness which
has long faded from the world. Not this. Not at all. I desire to press
in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.

APRIL 10. Faintly, under the heavy night, through the silence of the
city which has turned from dreams to dreamless sleep as a weary lover
whom no caresses move, the sound of hoofs upon the road. Not so faintly
now as they come near the bridge; and in a moment, as they pass the
darkened windows, the silence is cloven by alarm as by an arrow. They
are heard now far away, hoofs that shine amid the heavy night as gems,
hurrying beyond the sleeping fields to what journey's end--what heart?
--bearing what tidings?

APRIL 11. Read what I wrote last night. Vague words for a vague
emotion. Would she like it? I think so. Then I should have to like it

APRIL 13. That tundish has been on my mind for a long time. I looked it
up and find it English and good old blunt English too. Damn the dean of
studies and his funnel! What did he come here for to teach us his own
language or to learn it from us. Damn him one way or the other!

APRIL 14. John Alphonsus Mulrennan has just returned from the west of
Ireland. European and Asiatic papers please copy. He told us he met an
old man there in a mountain cabin. Old man had red eyes and short pipe.
Old man spoke Irish. Mulrennan spoke Irish. Then old man and Mulrennan
spoke English. Mulrennan spoke to him about universe and stars. Old man
sat, listened, smoked, spat. Then said:

--Ah, there must be terrible queer creatures at the latter end of the

I fear him. I fear his red-rimmed horny eyes. It is with him I must
struggle all through this night till day come, till he or I lie dead,
gripping him by the sinewy throat till... Till what? Till he yield to me?
No. I mean no harm.

APRIL 15. Met her today point blank in Grafton Street. The crowd
brought us together. We both stopped. She asked me why I never came,
said she had heard all sorts of stories about me. This was only to gain
time. Asked me was I writing poems? About whom? I asked her. This
confused her more and I felt sorry and mean. Turned off that valve at
once and opened the spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented
and patented in all countries by Dante Alighieri. Talked rapidly of
myself and my plans. In the midst of it unluckily I made a sudden
gesture of a revolutionary nature. I must have looked like a fellow
throwing a handful of peas into the air. People began to look at us.
She shook hands a moment after and, in going away, said she hoped I
would do what I said.

Now I call that friendly, don't you?

Yes, I liked her today. A little or much? Don't know. I liked her and
it seems a new feeling to me. Then, in that case, all the rest, all
that I thought I thought and all that I felt I felt, all the rest
before now, in fact... O, give it up, old chap! Sleep it off!

APRIL 16. Away! Away!

The spell of arms and voices: the white arms of roads, their promise of
close embraces and the black arms of tall ships that stand against the
moon, their tale of distant nations. They are held out to say: We are
alone--come. And the voices say with them: We are your kinsmen. And
the air is thick with their company as they call to me, their kinsman,
making ready to go, shaking the wings of their exultant and terrible

APRIL 26. Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She
prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home
and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it.
Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality
of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated
conscience of my race.

APRIL 27. Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good

Dublin, 1904
Trieste, 1914


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