02 October 2014

James Joyce - Epiphanies

These forty brief prose works are among some of Joyce’s earliest writings, which he titled ‘epiphanies’, being ‘sudden spiritual manifestations’. They form a series that originally contained at least seventy-one pieces, but sadly some have been lost. The Epiphanies are a link between Joyce’s early poetry and his early fiction, aiding us in understanding the formative stages of the writer’s art. They were written from 1901 to 1904 and they include fragmentary recordings of overheard dialogue, as well as Joyce’s own personal thoughts. He kept hold of these fragments and later drew upon them in his famous novels, often repeating specific spiritual images. Joyce regarded these enigmatical works as being “little errors and gestures - mere straws in the wind - by which people betrayed the very things they were most careful to conceal”. Therefore, the Epiphanies are, broadly speaking, sketches, objective in form and deliberately incomplete.

See also the website of  The James Joyce Centre, Dublin: http://jamesjoyce.ie/epiphanies/

1 Martello Terrace, Bray
(Bray: in the parlour of the house in Martello Terrace) 

Mr Vance - (comes in with a stick)... O, you know,
     he’ll have to apologise, Mrs Joyce. 
Mrs Joyce - O yes... Do you hear that, Jim? 
Mr Vance - Or else - if he doesn’t - the eagles’11
     come and pull out his eyes. 
Mrs Joyce - O, but I’m sure he will apologise. 
Joyce - (under the table, to himself)
   — Pull out his eyes,
     Pull out his eyes.
     Pull out his eyes,
     Pull out his eyes,

No school tomorrow: it is Saturday night in winter: I sit by the fire. Soon they will be returning with provisions, meat and vegetables, tea and bread and butter, and white pudding that makes a noise on the pan... I sit reading a story of Alsace, turning over the yellow pages, watching the men and women in their strange dresses. It pleases me to read of their ways; through them I seem to touch the life of a land beyond them to enter into communion with the German people. Dearest illusion, friend of my youth! In him I have imaged myself. Our lives are still sacred in their intimate sympathies. I am with him at night when he reads the books of the philosophers or some tale of ancient times. I am with him when he wanders alone or with one whom he has never seen, that young girl who puts around him arms that have no malice in them, offering her simple, abundant love, hearing and answering his soul he knows not how.

Horse trams in Sackville Street, Dublin
The children who have stayed latest are getting on their things to go home for the party is over. This is the last tram. The lank brown horses know it and shake their bells to the clear night, in admonition. The conductor talks with the driver; both nod often in the green light of the lamp. There is nobody near. We seem to listen, I on the upper step and she on the lower. She comes up to my step many times and goes down again, between our phrases, and once or twice remains beside me, forgetting to go down, and then goes down… Let be; let be... And now she does not urge her vanities - her fine dress and sash and long black stockings — for now (wisdom of children) we seem to know that this end will please us better than any end we have laboured for.

Mountjoy Square
(Dublin: on Mountjoy Square)

Joyce - (concludes)... That’ll be forty thousand pounds.
Aunt Lillie - (titters) - O, laus!... I was like that too
     ...When I was a girl I was sure I’d marry a
     lord... or something...
Joyce - (thinks) - Is it possible she’s comparing
     herself with me?

High up in the old, dark-windowed house: firelight in the narrow room: dusk outside. An old woman bustles about, making tea; she tells of the changes, her odd ways, and what the priest and the doctor said I hear her words in the distance. I wander among the coals, among the ways of adventure Christ! What is in the doorway? A skull - a monkey; a creature drawn hither to the fire, to the voices: a silly creature.
 - Is that Mary Ellen? -
 - No, Eliza, it’s Jim -
 - O    O, goodnight, Jim -
 - D’ye want anything, Eliza? -
 - I thought it was Mary Ellen    I thought you were Mary Ellen, Jim -

A small field of stiff weeds and thistles alive with confused forms, half-men, half-goats. Dragging their great tails they move hither and thither, aggressively. Their faces are lightly bearded, pointed and grey as india-rubber. A secret personal sin directs them, holding them now, as in reaction, to constant malevolence. One is clasping about his body a torn flannel jacket; another complains monotonously as his beard catches in the stiff weeds. They move about me, enclosing me, that old sin sharpening their eyes to cruelty, swishing through the fields in slow circles, thrusting upwards their terrific faces. Help !

It is time to go away now - breakfast is ready. I’ll say another prayer... I am hungry; yet I would like to stay here in this quiet chapel where the mass has come and gone so quietly Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! Tomorrow and every day after I hope I shall bring you some virtue as an offering for I know you will be pleased with me if I do. Now, goodbye for the present O, the beautiful sunlight in the avenue and O, the sunlight in my heart!

Dull clouds have covered the sky. Where three roads meet and before a swampy beach a big dog is recumbent. From time to time he lifts his muzzle in the air and utters a prolonged sorrowful howl. People stop to look at him and pass on; some remain, arrested, it may be, by that lamentation in which they seem to hear the utterance of their own sorrow that had once its voice but is now voiceless, a servant of laborious days. Rain begins to fall.

Mullingar in winter
(Mullingar: a Sunday in July: Noon)

Tobin - (walking noisily with thick boots and
   tapping the road with his stick)... O
   there’s nothing like marriage for
   making a fellow steady. Before I came
   here to the Examiner I used knock about
   with fellows and boose... Now I’ve a
   good house and    I go home in the
   evening and if I want a drink
   well, I can have it... My advice to
   every young fellow that can afford it
   is: marry young.

Stag's Head, Dame Lane
(Dublin: in the Stag’s Head, Dame Lane) 

O’Mahony - Haven’t you that little priest that
   writes poetry over there - Fr Russell? 
Joyce - O, yes...I hear he has written verses. 
O’Mahony - (smiling adroitly)...Verses, yes...that’s
   the proper name for them...

Belvedere Place
(Dublin: at Sheehy’s, Belvedere Place) 

Joyce - I knew you meant him. But you’re
      wrong about his age. 
Maggie Sheehy - (leans forward to speak
      seriously).Why, how old is he? 
Joyce - Seventy-two. 
Maggie Sheehy - Is he?

Goethe in the Roman Campagna (1786) by Tischbein
(Dublin: at Sheehy’s, Belvedere Place) 

O’Reilly - (with developing 
    seriousness)...Now it’s my turn, 
    I suppose
                 (quite seriously)
 ...Who is your favourite poet?
                     (a pause) 
Hanna Sheehy -    German? 
O’Reilly -    Yes.
                     (a hush) 
Hanna Sheehy -..I think    Goethe   

(Dublin: at Sheehy’s, Belvedere Place) 

Fallon - (as he passes) - I was told to congratulate you especially on your performance. 
Joyce - Thank you. 
Blake - (after a pause)..I’d never advise anyone    to...O, it’s a terrible life!... 
Joyce - Ha. 
Blake - (between puffs of smoke) - of course...it
     looks all right from the outside...to
     those who don’t know...But if
     you knew...it’s really terrible. A
     bit of candle, no...dinner, squalid ...poverty. 
     You’ve no idea simply...

Abandoned  Denbigh Insane Asylum
(Dublin: at Sheehy’s, Belvedere Place) 

Dick Sheehy - What’s a lie? Mr Speaker,
     I must ask... 
Mr Sheehy — Order, order! 
Fallon — You know it’s a lie! 
Mr Sheehy — You must withdraw, sir. 
Dick Sheehy - As I was saying... 
Fallon - No, I won’t. 
Mr Sheehy - I call on the honourable member
     for Denbigh... Order, order!...

(In Mullingar: an evening in autumn) 

The Lame Beggar - {gripping his stick)...It was
     you called out after me yesterday. 
The Two Children - (gazing at him)...No, sir. 
The Lame Beggar - O, yes it was, though...(moving
     his stick up and down)...But
     mind what I’m telling you... D’ye see that stick? 
The Two Children - Yes, sir. 
The Lame Beggar - Well, if ye call out after me
     any more I’ll cut ye open with
     that stick. I’ll cut the livers
     out o’ye...(explains himself) ... D’ye hear me? 
     I’ll cut ye open. 
     I’ll cut the livers and the lights out o’ye.

A white mist is falling in slow flakes. The path leads me down to an obscure pool. Something is moving in the pool; it is an arctic beast with a rough yellow coat. I thrust in my stick and as he rises out of the water I see that his back slopes towards the croup and that he is very sluggish. I am not afraid but, thrusting at him often with my stick drive him before me. He moves his paws heavily and mutters words of some language which I do not understand.

(Dublin: at Sheehy’s, Belvedere Place) 

Hanna Sheehy - O, there are sure to be great crowds. 
Skeffington - In fact it’ll be, as our friend Jocax would say, 
      the day of the rabblement. 
Maggie Sheehy - (declaims) - Even now the rabblement may

(Dublin, on the North Circular Road: Christmas)

Miss O’Callaghan - (lisps) - I told you the name,
     The Escaped Nun. 
Dick Sheehy — (loudly) - O, I wouldn’t read
     a book like that...I must
     ask Joyce. I say, Joyce, did
     you ever read The Escaped Nun? 
Joyce - I observe that a certain
    phenomenon happens about this hour. 
Dick Sheehy — What phenomenon? 
Joyce - O...the stars come out. 
Dick Sheehy - (to Miss O’Callaghan)..Did you
     ever observe how...the
     stars come out on the end
     of Joyce’s nose about this
     hour?...(she smiles)..Because
     I observe that phenomenon.

32 Glengariff Parade
(Dublin: in the house in Glengariff Parade: evening) 

Mrs Joyce - (crimson, trembling, appears at the
     parlour door)...Jim! 
Joyce - (at the piano)...Yes? 
Mrs Joyce - Do you know anything about the
     body?...What ought I do?...There’s
     some matter coming away from
     the hole in Georgie’s stomach...
     Did you ever hear of that happening? 
Joyce - (surprised)...I don’t know... 
Mrs Joyce - Ought I send for the doctor, 
     do you think? 
Joyce - I don’t know    What hole? 
Mrs Joyce - (impatient)...The hole we all have 
     here (points) 
Joyce - (stands up)

see: http://jamesjoyce.ie/on-this-day-3-may/

They are all asleep. I will go up now    He lies on my bed where I lay last night: they have covered him with a sheet and closed his eyes with pennies... Poor little fellow! We have often laughed together - he bore his body very lightly... I am very sorry he died. I cannot pray for him as the others do Poor little fellow! Everything else is so uncertain!

Two mourners push on through the crowd. The girl, one hand catching the woman’s skirt, runs in advance. The girl’s face is the face of a fish, discoloured and oblique-eyed; the woman’s face is small and square, the face of a bargainer. The girl, her mouth distorted, looks up at the woman to see if it is time to cry; the woman, settling a flat bonnet, hurries on towards the mortuary chapel.

The reading room of the National Library, Dublin
(Dublin: in the National Library)

Skeffington - I was sorry to hear of the death of
     your brother...sorry we didn’t know in time to        have been at the funeral
Joyce - O, he was very young...a boy...
Skeffington - Still    it hurts...

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins - William Blake
That is no dancing. Go down before the people, young boy, and dance for them... He runs out darkly-clad, lithe and serious to dance before the multitude. There is no music for him. He begins to dance far below in the amphitheatre with a slow and supple movement of the limbs, passing from movement to movement, in all the grace of youth and distance, until he seems to be a whirling body, a spider wheeling amid space, a star. I desire to shout to him words of praise, to shout arrogantly over the heads of the multitude ‘See! See!’ His dancing is not the dancing of harlots, the dance of the daughters of Herodias. It goes up from the midst of the people, sudden and young and male, and falls again to earth in tremulous sobbing to die upon its triumph.

Her arm is laid for a moment on my knees and then withdrawn, and her eyes have revealed her - secret, vigilant an enclosed garden - in a moment. I remember a harmony of red and white that was made for one like her, telling her names and glories, bidding her arise as for espousal, and come away, bidding her look forth, a spouse, from Amana and from the mountain of the leopards. And I remember that response whereunto the perfect tenderness of the body and the soul with all its mystery have gone: Inter ubera mea commorabitur.

Clongowes Wood College, 1888 The class of the Elements
The quick light shower is over but tarries, a cluster of diamonds, among the shrubs of the quadrangle where an exhalation arises from the black earth. In the colonnade are the girls, an April company. They are leaving shelter, with many a doubting glance, with the prattle of trim boots and the pretty rescue of petticoats, under umbrellas, a light armoury, upheld at cunning angles. They are returning to the convent - demure corridors and simple dormitories, a white rosary of hours - having heard the fair promises of Spring, that well-graced ambassador Amid a flat rain-swept country stands a high plain building, with windows that filter the obscure daylight. Three hundred boys, noisy and hungry, sit at long tables eating beef fringed with green fat and vegetables that are still rank of the earth.

She is engaged. She dances with them in the round - a white dress lightly lifted as she dances, a white spray in her hair; eyes a little averted, a faint glow on her cheek. Her hand is in mine for a moment, softest of merchandise.
     - You very seldom come here now. -
     - Yes I am becoming something of a recluse. -
     - I saw your brother the other day    He is very like you. -
     - Really? - 
She dances with them in the round - evenly, discreetly, giving herself to no one. The white spray is ruffled as she dances, and when she is in shadow the glow is deeper on her cheek.

Faintly, under the heavy summer night, through the silence of the town which has turned from dreams to dreamless sleep as a weary lover whom no caresses move, the sound of hoofs upon the Dublin road. Not so faintly now as they come near the bridge; and in a moment as they pass the dark 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 diamonds, hurrying beyond the grey, still marshes to what journey’s end - what heart - bearing what tidings?

A moonless night under which the waves gleam feebly. The ship is entering a harbour where there are some lights. The sea is uneasy, charged with dull anger like the eyes of an animal which is about to spring, the prey of its own pitiless hunger. The land is flat and thinly wooded. Many people are gathered on the shore to see what ship it is that is entering their harbour.

A long curving gallery: from the floor arise 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 vapours.

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 people. 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 youth.

Here are we come together, wayfarers; here are we housed, amid intricate streets, by night and silence closely covered. In amity we rest together, well content, no more remembering the deviousness of the ways that we have come. What moves upon me from the darkness subtle and murmurous as a flood, passionate and fierce with an indecent movement of the loins? What leaps, crying in answer, out of me, as eagle to eagle in mid air, crying to overcome, crying for an iniquitous abandonment?

The human crowd swarms in the enclosure, moving through the slush. A fat woman passes, her dress lifted boldly, her face nozzling in an orange. A pale young man with a Cockney accent does tricks in his shirtsleeves and drinks out of a bottle. A little old man has mice on an umbrella; a policeman in heavy boots charges down and seizes the umbrella: the little old man disappears. Bookies are bawling out names and prices; one of them screams with the voice of a child - ‘Bonny Boy!’ ‘Bonny Boy!’... Human creatures are swarming in the enclosure, moving backwards and forwards through the thick ooze. Some ask if the race is going on; they are answered ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ A band begins to play    A beautiful brown horse, with a yellow rider upon him, flashes far away in the sunlight.

They pass in twos and threes amid the life of the boulevard, walking like people who have leisure in a place lit up for them. They are in the pastry cook’s, chattering, crushing little fabrics of pastry, or seated silently at tables by the café door, or descending from carriages with a busy stir of garments soft as the voice of the adulterer. They pass in an air of perfumes: under the perfumes their bodies have a warm humid smell     No man has loved them and they have not loved themselves: they have given nothing for all that has been given them.

She comes at night when the city is still; invisible, inaudible, all unsummoned. She comes from her ancient seat to visit the least of her children, mother most venerable, as though he had never been alien to her. She knows the inmost heart; therefore she is gentle, nothing exacting; saying, I am susceptible of change, an imaginative influence in the hearts of my children. Who has pity for you when you are sad among the strangers? Years and years I loved you when you lay in my womb.

(London: in a house Kennington)

Eva Leslie - Yes, Maudie Leslie’s my sister an’
     Fred Leslie’s my brother — yev
     ‘eard of Fred Leslie?... (musing)...
     O, ‘e’s a whoite-arsed bugger...’E’s
     awoy at present
     I told you someun went with me
     ten toimes one noight...That’s
     Fred - my own brother Fred...
      (musing)...’E is ‘andsome...O I
     do love Fred...

Yes, they are the two sisters. She who is churning with stout arms (their butter is famous) looks dark and unhappy: the other is happy because she had her way. Her name is R... Rina. I know the verb ‘to be’ in their language. 
- Are you Rina? – 
I knew she was. But here he is himself in a coat with tails and an old-fashioned high hat. He ignores them: he walks along with tiny steps, jutting out the tails of his coat... My goodness! how small he is! He must be very old and vain    Maybe he isn’t what I...It’s funny that those two big women fell out over this little man...But then he’s the greatest man in the world...

I lie along the deck, against the engine-house, from which the smell of lukewarm grease exhales. Gigantic mists are marching under the French cliffs, enveloping the coast from headland to headland. The sea moves with the sound of many scales... Beyond the misty walls, in the dark cathedral church of Our Lady, I hear the bright, even voices of boys singing before the altar there.

(Dublin: at the corner of Connaught St, Phibsborough)

The Little Male Child - (at the garden gate)..Na..o.
The First Young Lady - (half kneeling, takes his
     hand) - Well, is Mabie
     your sweetheart?
The Little Male Child - Na...o.
The Second Young Lady - (bending over him, looks
     up) - Who is your sweetheart?

She stands, her book held lightly at her breast, reading the lesson. Against the dark stuff of her dress her face, mild-featured with downcast eyes, rises softly outlined in light; and from a folded cap, set carelessly forward, a tassel falls along her brown ringletted hair...     What is the lesson that she reads - of apes, of strange inventions, or the legends of martyrs? Who knows how deeply meditative, how reminiscent is this comeliness of Raffaello?

in O’Connell St:
                 (Dublin: /\ in Hamilton, Long’s
                 the chemist’s,) Gogarty - Is that for Gogarty?
The Assistant - (looks) - Yes, sir...Will you take
     it with you? for it now?
Gogarty - No, send it put it in the
     account; send it on. You know the address.
     (takes a pen)
The Assistant - Yes    Ye-es.
Gogarty — 5 Rutland Square.
The Assistant - (half to himself as he writes)
                 .. 5...Rutland…Square.

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