‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ (Chapter 5) by James Joyce
Image by Quinn Dombrowski
From Chapter 5:
He drained his third cup of watery tea to the dregs and set to chewing the crusts of fried bread that were scattered near him, staring into the dark pool of the jar. The yellow dripping had been scooped out like a boghole and the pool under it brought back to his memory the dark turf-coloured water of the bath in Clongowes. The box of pawn tickets at his elbow had just been rifled and he took up idly one after another in his greasy fingers the blue and white dockets, scrawled and sanded and creased and bearing the name of the pledger as Daly or MacEvoy.
1 Pair Buskins.
1 D. Coat.
3 Articles and White.
1 Man’s Pants.
Then he put them aside and gazed thoughtfully at the lid of the box, speckled with louse marks, and asked vaguely:
— How much is the clock fast now?
His mother straightened the battered alarm clock that was lying on its side in the middle of the mantelpiece until its dial showed a quarter to twelve and then laid it once more on its side.
—An hour and twenty-five minutes, she said. The time now is twenty past ten. The dear knows you might try to be in time for your lectures.
–Fill out the place for me to wash, said Stephen.
–Katey, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
–Boody, fill out the place for Stephen to wash.
–I can’t, I’m going for blue. Fill it out, you, Maggy.
When the enamelled basin had been fitted into the well of the sink and the old washing glove flung on the side of it he allowed his mother to scrub his neck and root into the folds of his ears and into the interstices at the wings of his nose.
–Well, it’s a poor case, she said, when a university student is so dirty that his mother has to wash him.
–But it gives you pleasure, said Stephen calmly.
An ear-splitting whistle was heard from upstairs and his mother thrust a damp overall into his hands, saying:
–Dry yourself and hurry out for the love of goodness.
A second shrill whistle, prolonged angrily, brought one of the girls to the foot of the staircase.
–Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?
The girl came back, making signs to him to be quick and go out quietly by the back. Stephen laughed and said:
–He has a curious idea of genders if he thinks a bitch is masculine.
–Ah, it’s a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, said his mother, and you’ll live to rue the day you set your foot in that place. I know how it has changed you.
–Good morning, everybody, said Stephen, smiling and kissing the tips of his fingers in adieu.
The lane behind the terrace was waterlogged and as he went down it slowly, choosing his steps amid heaps of wet rubbish, he heard a mad nun screeching in the nuns’ madhouse beyond the wall.
–Jesus! O Jesus! Jesus!
He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and hurried on, stumbling through the mouldering offal, his heart already bitten by an ache of loathing and bitterness. His father’s whistle, his mother’s mutterings, the screech of an unseen maniac were to him now so many voices offending and threatening to humble the pride of his youth. He drove their echoes even out of his heart with an execration; but, as he walked down the avenue and felt the grey morning light falling about him through the dripping trees and smelt the strange wild smell of the wet leaves and bark, his soul was loosed of her miseries.
The rain-laden trees of the avenue evoked in him, as always, memories of the girls and women in the plays of Gerhart Hauptmann; and the memory of their pale sorrows and the fragrance falling from the wet branches mingled in a mood of quiet joy. His morning walk across the city had begun, and he foreknew that as he passed the sloblands of Fairview he would think of the cloistral silver-veined prose of Newman; that as he walked along the North Strand Road, glancing idly at the windows of the provision shops, he would recall the dark humour of Guido Cavalcanti and smile; that as he went by Baird’s stonecutting works in Talbot Place the spirit of Ibsen would blow through him like a keen wind, a spirit of wayward boyish beauty; and that passing a grimy marine dealer’s shop beyond the Liffey he would repeat the song by Ben Jonson which begins:
I was not wearier where I lay.
His mind when wearied of its search for the essence of beauty amid the spectral words of Aristotle or Aquinas turned often for its pleasure to the dainty songs of the Elizabethans. His mind, in the vesture of a doubting monk, stood often in shadow under the windows of that age, to hear the grave and mocking music of the lutenists or the frank laughter of waist-coateers until a laugh too low, a phrase, tarnished by time, of chambering and false honour stung his monkish pride and drove him on from his lurking-place.
The lore which he was believed to pass his days brooding upon so that it had rapt him from the companionship of youth was only a garner of slender sentences from Aristotle’s poetics and psychology and a SYNOPSIS PHILOSOPHIAE SCHOLASTICAE AD MENTEM DIVI THOMAE. His thinking was a dusk of doubt and self-mistrust, lit up at moments by the lightnings of intuition, but lightnings of so clear a splendour that in those moments the world perished about his feet as if it had been fire-consumed; and thereafter his tongue grew heavy and he met the eyes of others with unanswering eyes, for he felt that the spirit of beauty had folded him round like a mantle and that in revery at least he had been acquainted with nobility. But when this brief pride of silence upheld him no longer he was glad to find himself still in the midst of common lives, passing on his way amid the squalor and noise and sloth of the city fearlessly and with a light heart.
Near the hoardings on the canal he met the consumptive man with the doll’s face and the brimless hat coming towards him down the slope of the bridge with little steps, tightly buttoned into his chocolate overcoat, and holding his furled umbrella a span or two from him like a divining rod. It must be eleven, he thought, and peered into a dairy to see the time. The clock in the dairy told him that it was five minutes to five but, as he turned away, he heard a clock somewhere near him, but unseen, beating eleven strokes in swift precision. He laughed as he heard it for it made him think of McCann, and he saw him a squat figure in a shooting jacket and breeches and with a fair goatee, standing in the wind at Hopkins’ corner, and heard him say:
–Dedalus, you’re an antisocial being, wrapped up in yourself. I’m not. I’m a democrat and I’ll work and act for social liberty and equality among all classes and sexes in the United States of the Europe of the future.
Eleven! Then he was late for that lecture too. What day of the week was it? He stopped at a newsagent’s to read the headline of a placard. Thursday. Ten to eleven, English; eleven to twelve, French; twelve to one, physics. He fancied to himself the English lecture and felt, even at that distance, restless and helpless. He saw the heads of his classmates meekly bent as they wrote in their notebooks the points they were bidden to note, nominal definitions, essential definitions and examples or dates of birth or death, chief works, a favourable and an unfavourable criticism side by side. His own head was unbent for his thoughts wandered abroad and whether he looked around the little class of students or out of the window across the desolate gardens of the green an odour assailed him of cheerless cellar-damp and decay. Another head than his, right before him in the first benches, was poised squarely above its bending fellows like the head of a priest appealing without humility to the tabernacle for the humble worshippers about him. Why was it that when he thought of Cranly he could never raise before his mind the entire image of his body but only the image of the head and face? Even now against the grey curtain of the morning he saw it before him like the phantom of a dream, the face of a severed head or death-mask, crowned on the brows by its stiff black upright hair as by an iron crown. It was a priest-like face, priest-like in its palor, in the wide winged nose, in the shadowings below the eyes and along the jaws, priest-like in the lips that were long and bloodless and faintly smiling; and Stephen, remembering swiftly how he had told Cranly of all the tumults and unrest and longings in his soul, day after day and night by night, only to be answered by his friend’s listening silence, would have told himself that it was the face of a guilty priest who heard confessions of those whom he had not power to absolve but that he felt again in memory the gaze of its dark womanish eyes.
Through this image he had a glimpse of a strange dark cavern of speculation but at once turned away from it, feeling that it was not yet the hour to enter it. But the nightshade of his friend’s listlessness seemed to be diffusing in the air around him a tenuous and deadly exhalation and He found himself glancing from one casual word to another on his right or left in stolid wonder that they had been so silently emptied of instantaneous sense until every mean shop legend bound his mind like the words of a spell and his soul shrivelled up sighing with age as he walked on in a lane among heaps of dead language. His own consciousness of language was ebbing from his brain and trickling into the very words themselves which set to band and disband themselves in wayward rhythms:
The ivy whines upon the wall,
And whines and twines upon the wall,
The yellow ivy upon the wall,
Ivy, ivy up the wall.
Did anyone ever hear such drivel? Lord Almighty! Who ever heard of ivy whining on a wall? Yellow ivy; that was all right. Yellow ivory also. And what about ivory ivy?
The word now shone in his brain, clearer and brighter than any ivory sawn from the mottled tusks of elephants. IVORY, IVOIRE, AVORIO, EBUR. One of the first examples that he had learnt in Latin had run: INDIA MITTIT EBUR; and he recalled the shrewd northern face of the rector who had taught him to construe the Metamorphoses of Ovid in a courtly English, made whimsical by the mention of porkers and potsherds and chines of bacon. He had learnt what little he knew of the laws of Latin verse from a ragged book written by a Portuguese priest.
Contrahit orator, variant in carmine vates.
The crises and victories and secessions in Roman history were handed on to him in the trite words IN TANTO DISCRIMINE and he had tried to peer into the social life of the city of cities through the words IMPLERE OLLAM DENARIORUM which the rector had rendered sonorously as the filling of a pot with denaries. The pages of his time-worn Horace never felt cold to the touch even when his own fingers were cold; they were human pages and fifty years before they had been turned by the human fingers of John Duncan Inverarity and by his brother, William Malcolm Inverarity. Yes, those were noble names on the dusky flyleaf and, even for so poor a Latinist as he, the dusky verses were as fragrant as though they had lain all those years in myrtle and lavender and vervain; but yet it wounded him to think that he would never be but a shy guest at the feast of the world’s culture and that the monkish learning, in terms of which he was striving to forge out an esthetic philosophy, was held no higher by the age he lived in than the subtle and curious jargons of heraldry and falconry.
The grey block of Trinity on his left, set heavily in the city’s ignorance like a dull stone set in a cumbrous ring, pulled his mind downward and while he was striving this way and that to free his feet from the fetters of the reformed conscience he came upon the droll statue of the national poet of Ireland.
He looked at it without anger; for, though sloth of the body and of the soul crept over it like unseen vermin, over the shuffling feet and up the folds of the cloak and around the servile head, it seemed humbly conscious of its indignity. It was a Firbolg in the borrowed cloak of a Milesian; and he thought of his friend Davin, the peasant student. It was a jesting name between them, but the young peasant bore with it lightly:
–Go on, Stevie, I have a hard head, you tell me. Call me what you will.
The homely version of his christian name on the lips of his friend had touched Stephen pleasantly when first heard for he was as formal in speech with others as they were with him. Often, as he sat in Davin’s rooms in Grantham Street, wondering at his friend’s well-made boots that flanked the wall pair by pair and repeating for his friend’s simple ear the verses and cadences of others which were the veils of his own longing and dejection, the rude Firbolg mind of his listener had drawn his mind towards it and flung it back again, drawing it by a quiet inbred courtesy of attention or by a quaint turn of old English speech or by the force of its delight in rude bodily skill–for Davin had sat at the feet of Michael Cusack, the Gael–repelling swiftly and suddenly by a grossness of intelligence or by a bluntness of feeling or by a dull stare of terror in the eyes, the terror of soul of a starving Irish village in which the curfew was still a nightly fear.
Side by side with his memory of the deeds of prowess of his uncle Mat Davin, the athlete, the young peasant worshipped the sorrowful legend of Ireland. The gossip of his fellow-students which strove to render the flat life of the college significant at any cost loved to think of him as a young fenian. His nurse had taught him Irish and shaped his rude imagination by the broken lights of Irish myth. He stood towards the myth upon which no individual mind had ever drawn out a line of beauty and to its unwieldy tales that divided against themselves as they moved down the cycles in the same attitude as towards the Roman catholic religion, the attitude of a dull-witted loyal serf. Whatsoever of thought or of feeling came to him from England or by way of English culture his mind stood armed against in obedience to a password; and of the world that lay beyond England he knew only the foreign legion of France in which he spoke of serving.
Coupling this ambition with the young man’s humour Stephen had often called him one of the tame geese and there was even a point of irritation in the name pointed against that very reluctance of speech and deed in his friend which seemed so often to stand between Stephen’s mind, eager of speculation, and the hidden ways of Irish life.
One night the young peasant, his spirit stung by the violent or luxurious language in which Stephen escaped from the cold silence of intellectual revolt, had called up before Stephen’s mind a strange vision. The two were walking slowly towards Davin’s rooms through the dark narrow streets of the poorer jews.
–A thing happened to myself, Stevie, last autumn, coming on winter, and I never told it to a living soul and you are the first person now I ever told it to. I disremember if it was October or November. It was October because it was before I came up here to join the matriculation class.
Stephen had turned his smiling eyes towards his friend’s face, flattered by his confidence and won over to sympathy by the speaker’s simple accent.
–I was away all that day from my own place over in Buttevant.
–I don’t know if you know where that is–at a hurling match between the Croke’s Own Boys and the Fearless Thurles and by God, Stevie, that was the hard fight. My first cousin, Fonsy Davin, was stripped to his buff that day minding cool for the Limericks but he was up with the forwards half the time and shouting like mad. I never will forget that day. One of the Crokes made a woeful wipe at him one time with his caman and I declare to God he was within an aim’s ace of getting it at the side of his temple. Oh, honest to God, if the crook of it caught him that time he was done for.
–I am glad he escaped, Stephen had said with a laugh, but surely that’s not the strange thing that happened you?
–Well, I suppose that doesn’t interest you, but leastways there was such noise after the match that I missed the train home and I couldn’t get any kind of a yoke to give me a lift for, as luck would have it, there was a mass meeting that same day over in Castletownroche and all the cars in the country were there. So there was nothing for it only to stay the night or to foot it out. Well, I started to walk and on I went and it was coming on night when I got into the Ballyhoura hills, that’s better than ten miles from Kilmallock and there’s a long lonely road after that. You wouldn’t see the sign of a christian house along the road or hear a sound. It was pitch dark almost. Once or twice I stopped by the way under a bush to redden my pipe and only for the dew was thick I’d have stretched out there and slept. At last, after a bend of the road, I spied a little cottage with a light in the window. I went up and knocked at the door. A voice asked who was there and I answered I was over at the match in Buttevant and was walking back and that I’d be thankful for a glass of water. After a while a young woman opened the door and brought me out a big mug of milk. She was half undressed as if she was going to bed when I knocked and she had her hair hanging and I thought by her figure and by something in the look of her eyes that she must be carrying a child. She kept me in talk a long while at the door, and I thought it strange because her breast and her shoulders were bare. She asked me was I tired and would I like to stop the night there. She said she was all alone in the house and that her husband had gone that morning to Queenstown with his sister to see her off. And all the time she was talking, Stevie, she had her eyes fixed on my face and she stood so close to me I could hear her breathing. When I handed her back the mug at last she took my hand to draw me in over the threshold and said: ‘COME IN AND STAY THE NIGHT HERE. YOU’VE NO CALL TO BE FRIGHTENED. THERE’S NO ONE IN IT BUT OURSELVES…’ I didn’t go in, Stevie. I thanked her and went on my way again, all in a fever. At the first bend of the road I looked back and she was standing at the door.
The last words of Davin’s story sang in his memory and the figure of the woman in the story stood forth reflected in other figures of the peasant women whom he had seen standing in the doorways at Clane as the college cars drove by, as a type of her race and of his own, a bat-like soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness and, through the eyes and voice and gesture of a woman without guile, calling the stranger to her bed.
A hand was laid on his arm and a young voice cried:
–Ah, gentleman, your own girl, sir! The first handsel today, gentleman. Buy that lovely bunch. Will you, gentleman?
The blue flowers which she lifted towards him and her young blue eyes seemed to him at that instant images of guilelessness, and he halted till the image had vanished and he saw only her ragged dress and damp coarse hair and hoydenish face.
–Do, gentleman! Don’t forget your own girl, sir!
–I have no money, said Stephen.
–Buy them lovely ones, will you, sir? Only a penny.
–Did you hear what I said? asked Stephen, bending towards her. I told you I had no money. I tell you again now.
–Well, sure, you will some day, sir, please God, the girl answered after an instant.
–Possibly, said Stephen, but I don’t think it likely.
He left her quickly, fearing that her intimacy might turn to jibing and wishing to be out of the way before she offered her ware to another, a tourist from England or a student of Trinity. Grafton Street, along which he walked, prolonged that moment of discouraged poverty. In the roadway at the head of the street a slab was set to the memory of Wolfe Tone and he remembered having been present with his father at its laying. He remembered with bitterness that scene of tawdry tribute. There were four French delegates in a brake and one, a plump smiling young man, held, wedged on a stick, a card on which were printed the words: VIVE L’IRLANDE!
But the trees in Stephen’s Green were fragrant of rain and the rain-sodden earth gave forth its mortal odour, a faint incense rising upward through the mould from many hearts. The soul of the gallant venal city which his elders had told him of had shrunk with time to a faint mortal odour rising from the earth and he knew that in a moment when he entered the sombre college he would be conscious of a corruption other than that of Buck Egan and Burnchapel Whaley.
It was too late to go upstairs to the French class. He crossed the hall and took the corridor to the left which led to the physics theatre. The corridor was dark and silent but not unwatchful. Why did he feel that it was not unwatchful? Was it because he had heard that in Buck Whaley’s time there was a secret staircase there? Or was the jesuit house extra-territorial and was he walking among aliens? The Ireland of Tone and of Parnell seemed to have receded in space.
He opened the door of the theatre and halted in the chilly grey light that struggled through the dusty windows. A figure was crouching before the large grate and by its leanness and greyness he knew that it was the dean of studies lighting the fire. Stephen closed the door quietly and approached the fireplace.
–Good morning, sir! Can I help you?
The priest looked up quickly and said:
–One moment now, Mr Dedalus, and you will see. There is an art in lighting a fire. We have the liberal arts and we have the useful arts. This is one of the useful arts.
–I will try to learn it, said Stephen.
–Not too much coal, said the dean, working briskly at his task, that is one of the secrets.
He produced four candle-butts from the side-pockets of his soutane and placed them deftly among the coals and twisted papers. Stephen watched him in silence. Kneeling thus on the flagstone to kindle the fire and busied with the disposition of his wisps of paper and candle-butts he seemed more than ever a humble server making ready the place of sacrifice in an empty temple, a levite of the Lord. Like a levite’s robe of plain linen the faded worn soutane draped the kneeling figure of one whom the canonicals or the bell-bordered ephod would irk and trouble. His very body had waxed old in lowly service of the Lord–in tending the fire upon the altar, in bearing tidings secretly, in waiting upon worldlings, in striking swiftly when bidden–and yet had remained ungraced by aught of saintly or of prelatic beauty. Nay, his very soul had waxed old in that service without growing towards light and beauty or spreading abroad a sweet odour of her sanctity–a mortified will no more responsive to the thrill of its obedience than was to the thrill of love or combat his ageing body, spare and sinewy, greyed with a silver-pointed down.
The dean rested back on his hunkers and watched the sticks catch. Stephen, to fill the silence, said:
–I am sure I could not light a fire.
–You are an artist, are you not, Mr Dedalus? said the dean, glancing up and blinking his pale eyes. The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.
He rubbed his hands slowly and drily over the difficulty.
–Can you solve that question now? he asked.
–Aquinas, answered Stephen, says PULCRA SUNT QUAE VISA PLACENT.
–This fire before us, said the dean, will be pleasing to the eye. Will it therefore be beautiful?
–In so far as it is apprehended by the sight, which I suppose means here esthetic intellection, it will be beautiful. But Aquinas also says BONUM EST IN QUOD TENDIT APPETITUS. In so far as it satisfies the animal craving for warmth fire is a good. In hell, however, it is an evil.
–Quite so, said the dean, you have certainly hit the nail on the head.
He rose nimbly and went towards the door, set it ajar and said:
–A draught is said to be a help in these matters.
As he came back to the hearth, limping slightly but with a brisk step, Stephen saw the silent soul of a jesuit look out at him from the pale loveless eyes. Like Ignatius he was lame but in his eyes burned no spark of Ignatius’s enthusiasm. Even the legendary craft of the company, a craft subtler and more secret than its fabled books of secret subtle wisdom, had not fired his soul with the energy of apostleship. It seemed as if he used the shifts and lore and cunning of the world, as bidden to do, for the greater glory of God, without joy in their handling or hatred of that in them which was evil but turning them, with a firm gesture of obedience back upon themselves and for all this silent service it seemed as if he loved not at all the master and little, if at all, the ends he served. SIMILITER ATQUE SENIS BACULUS, he was, as the founder would have had him, like a staff in an old man’s hand, to be leaned on in the road at nightfall or in stress of weather, to lie with a lady’s nosegay on a garden seat, to be raised in menace.
The dean returned to the hearth and began to stroke his chin.
–When may we expect to have something from you on the esthetic question? he asked.
–From me! said Stephen in astonishment. I stumble on an idea once a fortnight if I am lucky.
–These questions are very profound, Mr Dedalus, said the dean. It is like looking down from the cliffs of Moher into the depths. Many go down into the depths and never come up. Only the trained diver can go down into those depths and explore them and come to the surface again.
–If you mean speculation, sir, said Stephen, I also am sure that there is no such thing as free thinking inasmuch as all thinking must be bound by its own laws.
–For my purpose I can work on at present by the light of one or two ideas of Aristotle and Aquinas.
–I see. I quite see your point.
–I need them only for my own use and guidance until I have done something for myself by their light. If the lamp smokes or smells I shall try to trim it. If it does not give light enough I shall sell it and buy another.
–Epictetus also had a lamp, said the dean, which was sold for a fancy price after his death. It was the lamp he wrote his philosophical dissertations by. You know Epictetus?
–An old gentleman, said Stephen coarsely, who said that the soul is very like a bucketful of water.
–He tells us in his homely way, the dean went on, that he put an iron lamp before a statue of one of the gods and that a thief stole the lamp. What did the philosopher do? He reflected that it was in the character of a thief to steal and determined to buy an earthen lamp next day instead of the iron lamp.
A smell of molten tallow came up from the dean’s candle butts and fused itself in Stephen’s consciousness with the jingle of the words, bucket and lamp and lamp and bucket. The priest’s voice, too, had a hard jingling tone. Stephen’s mind halted by instinct, checked by the strange tone and the imagery and by the priest’s face which seemed like an unlit lamp or a reflector hung in a false focus. What lay behind it or within it? A dull torpor of the soul or the dullness of the thundercloud, charged with intellection and capable of the gloom of God?
–I meant a different kind of lamp, sir, said Stephen.
–Undoubtedly, said the dean.
–One difficulty, said Stephen, in esthetic discussion is to know whether words are being used according to the literary tradition or according to the tradition of the marketplace. I remember a sentence of Newman’s in which he says of the Blessed Virgin that she was detained in the full company of the saints. The use of the word in the marketplace is quite different. I HOPE I AM NOT DETAINING YOU.
–Not in the least, said the dean politely.
–No, no, said Stephen, smiling, I mean–
–Yes, yes; I see, said the dean quickly, I quite catch the point: DETAIN.
He thrust forward his under jaw and uttered a dry short cough.
–To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice problem. You must choose the pure oil and you must be careful when you pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more than the funnel can hold.
–What funnel? asked Stephen.
–The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.
–That? said Stephen. Is that called a funnel? Is it not a tundish?
–What is a tundish?
–That. The… funnel.
–Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard the word in my life.
–It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen, laughing, where they speak the best English.
–A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting word. I must look that word up. Upon my word I must.
His courtesy of manner rang a little false and Stephen looked at the English convert with the same eyes as the elder brother in the parable may have turned on the prodigal. A humble follower in the wake of clamorous conversions, a poor Englishman in Ireland, he seemed to have entered on the stage of jesuit history when that strange play of intrigue and suffering and envy and struggle and indignity had been all but given through–a late-comer, a tardy spirit. From what had he set out? Perhaps he had been born and bred among serious dissenters, seeing salvation in Jesus only and abhorring the vain pomps of the establishment. Had he felt the need of an implicit faith amid the welter of sectarianism and the jargon of its turbulent schisms, six principle men, peculiar people, seed and snake baptists, supralapsarian dogmatists? Had he found the true church all of a sudden in winding up to the end like a reel of cotton some fine-spun line of reasoning upon insufflation on the imposition of hands or the procession of the Holy Ghost? Or had Lord Christ touched him and bidden him follow, like that disciple who had sat at the receipt of custom, as he sat by the door of some zinc-roofed chapel, yawning and telling over his church pence?
The dean repeated the word yet again.
–Tundish! Well now, that is interesting!
–The question you asked me a moment ago seems to me more interesting. What is that beauty which the artist struggles to express from lumps of earth, said Stephen coldly.
The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his sensitiveness against this courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a smart of dejection that the man to whom he was speaking was a countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:
–The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words HOME, CHRIST, ALE, MASTER, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.
–And to distinguish between the beautiful and the sublime, the dean added, to distinguish between moral beauty and material beauty. And to inquire what kind of beauty is proper to each of the various arts. These are some interesting points we might take up.
Stephen, disheartened suddenly by the dean’s firm, dry tone, was silent; and through the silence a distant noise of many boots and confused voices came up the staircase.
–In pursuing these speculations, said the dean conclusively, there is, however, the danger of perishing of inanition. First you must take your degree. Set that before you as your first aim. Then, little by little, you will see your way. I mean in every sense, your way in life and in thinking. It may be uphill pedalling at first. Take Mr Moonan. He was a long time before he got to the top. But he got there.
–I may not have his talent, said Stephen quietly.
–You never know, said the dean brightly. We never can say what is in us. I most certainly should not be despondent. PER ASPERA AD ASTRA.
He left the hearth quickly and went towards the landing to oversee the arrival of the first arts’ class.
Leaning against the fireplace Stephen heard him greet briskly and impartially every Student of the class and could almost see the frank smiles of the coarser students. A desolating pity began to fall like dew upon his easily embittered heart for this faithful serving-man of the knightly Loyola, for this half-brother of the clergy, more venal than they in speech, more steadfast of soul than they, one whom he would never call his ghostly father; and he thought how this man and his companions had earned the name of worldlings at the hands not of the unworldly only but of the worldly also for having pleaded, during all their history, at the bar of God’s justice for the souls of the lax and the lukewarm and the prudent.
The entry of the professor was signalled by a few rounds of Kentish fire from the heavy boots of those students who sat on the highest tier of the gloomy theatre under the grey cobwebbed windows. The calling of the roll began and the responses to the names were given out in all tones until the name of Peter Byrne was reached.
A deep bass note in response came from the upper tier, followed by coughs of protest along the other benches.
The professor paused in his reading and called the next name:
A smile flew across Stephen’s face as he thought of his friend’s studies.
–Try Leopardstown! Said a voice from the bench behind.
Stephen glanced up quickly but Moynihan’s snoutish face, outlined on the grey light, was impassive. A formula was given out. Amid the rustling of the notebooks Stephen turned back again and said:
–Give me some paper for God’s sake.
–Are you as bad as that? asked Moynihan with a broad grin.
He tore a sheet from his scribbler and passed it down, whispering:
–In case of necessity any layman or woman can do it.
The formula which he wrote obediently on the sheet of paper, the coiling and uncoiling calculations of the professor, the spectre-like symbols of force and velocity fascinated and jaded Stephen’s mind. He had heard some say that the old professor was an atheist freemason. O the grey dull day! It seemed a limbo of painless patient consciousness through which souls of mathematicians might wander, projecting long slender fabrics from plane to plane of ever rarer and paler twilight, radiating swift eddies to the last verges of a universe ever vaster, farther and more impalpable.
–So we must distinguish between elliptical and ellipsoidal. Perhaps some of you gentlemen may be familiar with the works of Mr W. S. Gilbert. In one of his songs he speaks of the billiard sharp who is condemned to play:
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue
And elliptical billiard balls.
–He means a ball having the form of the ellipsoid of the principal axes of which I spoke a moment ago.
Moynihan leaned down towards Stephen’s ear and murmured:
–What price ellipsoidal balls! chase me, ladies, I’m in the cavalry!
His fellow student’s rude humour ran like a gust through the cloister of Stephen’s mind, shaking into gay life limp priestly vestments that hung upon the walls, setting them to sway and caper in a sabbath of misrule. The forms of the community emerged from the gust-blown vestments, the dean of studies, the portly florid bursar with his cap of grey hair, the president, the little priest with feathery hair who wrote devout verses, the squat peasant form of the professor of economics, the tall form of the young professor of mental science discussing on the landing a case of conscience with his class like a giraffe cropping high leafage among a herd of antelopes, the grave troubled prefect of the sodality, the plump round-headed professor of Italian with his rogue’s eyes. They came ambling and stumbling, tumbling and capering, kilting their gowns for leap frog, holding one another back, shaken with deep false laughter, smacking one another behind and laughing at their rude malice, calling to one another by familiar nicknames, protesting with sudden dignity at some rough usage, whispering two and two behind their hands.
The professor had gone to the glass cases on the side wall, from a shelf of which he took down a set of coils, blew away the dust from many points and, bearing it carefully to the table, held a finger on it while he proceeded with his lecture. He explained that the wires in modern coils were of a compound called platinoid lately discovered by F. W. Martino.
He spoke clearly the initials and surname of the discoverer. Moynihan whispered from behind:
–Good old Fresh Water Martin!
–Ask him, Stephen whispered back with weary humour, if he wants a subject for electrocution. He can have me.
Moynihan, seeing the professor bend over the coils, rose in his bench and, clacking noiselessly the fingers of his right hand, began to call with the voice of a slobbering urchin.
–Please teacher! This boy is after saying a bad word, teacher.
–Platinoid, the professor said solemnly, is preferred to German silver because it has a lower coefficient of resistance by changes of temperature. The platinoid wire is insulated and the covering of silk that insulates it is wound on the ebonite bobbins just where my finger is. If it were wound single an extra current would be induced in the coils. The bobbins are saturated in hot paraffin wax…
A sharp Ulster voice said from the bench below Stephen:
–Are we likely to be asked questions on applied science?
The professor began to juggle gravely with the terms pure science and applied science. A heavy-built student, wearing gold spectacles, stared with some wonder at the questioner. Moynihan murmured from behind in his natural voice:
–Isn’t MacAlister a devil for his pound of flesh?
Stephen looked coldly on the oblong skull beneath him overgrown with tangled twine-coloured hair. The voice, the accent, the mind of the questioner offended him and he allowed the offence to carry him towards wilful unkindness, bidding his mind think that the student’s father would have done better had he sent his son to Belfast to study and have saved something on the train fare by so doing.
The oblong skull beneath did not turn to meet this shaft of thought and yet the shaft came back to its bowstring; for he saw in a moment the student’s whey-pale face.
–That thought is not mine, he said to himself quickly. It came from the comic Irishman in the bench behind. Patience. Can you say with certitude by whom the soul of your race was bartered and its elect betrayed–by the questioner or by the mocker? Patience. Remember Epictetus. It is probably in his character to ask such a question at such a moment in such a tone and to pronounce the word SCIENCE as a monosyllable.
The droning voice of the professor continued to wind itself slowly round and round the coils it spoke of, doubling, trebling, quadrupling its somnolent energy as the coil multiplied its ohms of resistance.
Moynihan’s voice called from behind in echo to a distant bell:
–Closing time, gents!
The entrance hall was crowded and loud with talk. On a table near the door were two photographs in frames and between them a long roll of paper bearing an irregular tail of signatures. MacCann went briskly to and fro among the students, talking rapidly, answering rebuffs and leading one after another to the table. In the inner hall the dean of studies stood talking to a young professor, stroking his chin gravely and nodding his head.
Stephen, checked by the crowd at the door, halted irresolutely. From under the wide falling leaf of a soft hat Cranly’s dark eyes were watching him.
–Have you signed? Stephen asked.
Cranly closed his long thin-lipped mouth, communed with himself an instant and answered:
–What is it for?
–What is it for?
Cranly turned his pale face to Stephen and said blandly and bitterly:
–PER PAX UNIVERSALIS.
Stephen pointed to the Tsar’s photograph and said:
–He has the face of a besotted Christ.
The scorn and anger in his voice brought Cranly’s eyes back from a calm survey of the walls of the hall.
–Are you annoyed? he asked.
–No, answered Stephen.
–Are you in bad humour?
–CREDO UT VOS SANGUINARIUS MENDAX ESTIS, said Cranly, QUIA FACIES VOSTRA MONSTRAT UT VOS IN DAMNO MALO HUMORE ESTIS.
Moynihan, on his way to the table, said in Stephen’s ear:
–MacCann is in tiptop form. Ready to shed the last drop. Brand new world. No stimulants and votes for the bitches.
Stephen smiled at the manner of this confidence and, when Moynihan had passed, turned again to meet Cranly’s eyes.
–Perhaps you can tell me, he said, why he pours his soul so freely into my ear. Can you?
A dull scowl appeared on Cranly’s forehead. He stared at the table where Moynihan had bent to write his name on the roll, and then said flatly:
–QUIS EST IN MALO HUMORE, said Stephen, EGO AUT VOS?
Cranly did not take up the taunt. He brooded sourly on his judgement and repeated with the same flat force:
–A flaming bloody sugar, that’s what he is!
It was his epitaph for all dead friendships and Stephen wondered whether it would ever be spoken in the same tone over his memory. The heavy lumpish phrase sank slowly out of hearing like a stone through a quagmire. Stephen saw it sink as he had seen many another, feeling its heaviness depress his heart. Cranly’s speech, unlike that of Davin, had neither rare phrases of Elizabethan English nor quaintly turned versions of Irish idioms. Its drawl was an echo of the quays of Dublin given back by a bleak decaying seaport, its energy an echo of the sacred eloquence of Dublin given back flatly by a Wicklow pulpit.
The heavy scowl faded from Cranly’s face as MacCann marched briskly towards them from the other side of the hall.
–Here you are! said MacCann cheerily.
–Here I am! said Stephen.
–Late as usual. Can you not combine the progressive tendency with a respect for punctuality?
–That question is out of order, said Stephen. Next business.
His smiling eyes were fixed on a silver-wrapped tablet of milk chocolate which peeped out of the propagandist’s breast-pocket. A little ring of listeners closed round to hear the war of wits. A lean student with olive skin and lank black hair thrust his face between the two, glancing from one to the other at each phrase and seeming to try to catch each flying phrase in his open moist mouth. Cranly took a small grey handball from his pocket and began to examine it closely, turning it over and over.
–Next business? said MacCann. Hom!
He gave a loud cough of laughter, smiled broadly and tugged twice at the straw-coloured goatee which hung from his blunt chin.
–The next business is to sign the testimonial.
–Will you pay me anything if I sign? asked Stephen.
–I thought you were an idealist, said MacCann.
The gipsy-like student looked about him and addressed the onlookers in an indistinct bleating voice.
–By hell, that’s a queer notion. I consider that notion to be a mercenary notion.
His voice faded into silence. No heed was paid to his words. He turned his olive face, equine in expression, towards Stephen, inviting him to speak again.
MacCann began to speak with fluent energy of the Tsar’s rescript, of Stead, of general disarmament arbitration in cases of international disputes, of the signs of the times, of the new humanity and the new gospel of life which would make it the business of the community to secure as cheaply as possible the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible number.
The gipsy student responded to the close of the period by crying:
–Three cheers for universal brotherhood!
–Go on, Temple, said a stout ruddy student near him. I’ll stand you a pint after.
–I’m a believer in universal brotherhood, said Temple, glancing about him out of his dark oval eyes. Marx is only a bloody cod.
Cranly gripped his arm tightly to check his tongue, smiling uneasily, and repeated:
–Easy, easy, easy!
Temple struggled to free his arm but continued, his mouth flecked by a thin foam:
–Socialism was founded by an Irishman and the first man in Europe who preached the freedom of thought was Collins. Two hundred years ago. He denounced priestcraft, the philosopher of Middlesex. Three cheers for John Anthony Collins!
A thin voice from the verge of the ring replied:
Moynihan murmured beside Stephen’s ear:
–And what about John Anthony’s poor little sister:
Lottie Collins lost her drawers;
Won’t you kindly lend her yours?
Stephen laughed and Moynihan, pleased with the result, murmured again:
–We’ll have five bob each way on John Anthony Collins.
–I am waiting for your answer, said MacCann briefly.
–The affair doesn’t interest me in the least, said Stephen wearily. You know that well. Why do you make a scene about it?
–Good! said MacCann, smacking his lips. You are a reactionary, then?
–Do you think you impress me, Stephen asked, when you flourish your wooden sword?
–Metaphors! said MacCann bluntly. Come to facts.
Stephen blushed and turned aside. MacCann stood his ground and said with hostile humour:
–Minor poets, I suppose, are above such trivial questions as the question of universal peace.
Cranly raised his head and held the handball between the two students by way of a peace-offering, saying:
–PAX SUPER TOTUM SANGUINARIUM GLOBUM.
Stephen, moving away the bystanders, jerked his shoulder angrily in the direction of the Tsar’s image, saying:
–Keep your icon. If we must have a Jesus let us have a legitimate Jesus.
–By hell, that’s a good one! said the gipsy student to those about him, that’s a fine expression. I like that expression immensely.
He gulped down the spittle in his throat as if he were gulping down the phrase and, fumbling at the peak of his tweed cap, turned to Stephen, saying:
–Excuse me, sir, what do you mean by that expression you uttered just now?
Feeling himself jostled by the students near him, he said to them:
–I am curious to know now what he meant by that expression.
He turned again to Stephen and said in a whisper:
–Do you believe in Jesus? I believe in man. Of course, I don’t know if you believe in man. I admire you, sir. I admire the mind of man independent of all religions. Is that your opinion about the mind of Jesus?
–Go on, Temple, said the stout ruddy student, returning, as was his wont, to his first idea, that pint is waiting for you.
–He thinks I’m an imbecile, Temple explained to Stephen, because I’m a believer in the power of mind.
Cranly linked his arms into those of Stephen and his admirer and said:
–NOS AD MANUM BALLUM JOCABIMUS.
Stephen, in the act of being led away, caught sight of MacCann’s flushed blunt-featured face.
–My signature is of no account, he said politely. You are right to go your way. Leave me to go mine.
–Dedalus, said MacCann crisply, I believe you’re a good fellow but you have yet to learn the dignity of altruism and the responsibility of the human individual.
A voice said:
–Intellectual crankery is better out of this movement than in it.
Stephen, recognizing the harsh tone of MacAlister’s voice did not turn in the direction of the voice. Cranly pushed solemnly through the throng of students, linking Stephen and Temple like a celebrant attended by his ministers on his way to the altar.
Temple bent eagerly across Cranly’s breast and said:
–Did you hear MacAlister what he said? That youth is jealous of you. Did you see that? I bet Cranly didn’t see that. By hell, I saw that at once.
As they crossed the inner hall, the dean of studies was in the act of escaping from the student with whom he had been conversing. He stood at the foot of the staircase, a foot on the lowest step, his threadbare soutane gathered about him for the ascent with womanish care, nodding his head often and repeating:
–Not a doubt of it, Mr Hackett! Very fine! Not a doubt of it!
In the middle of the hall the prefect of the college sodality was speaking earnestly, in a soft querulous voice, with a boarder. As he spoke he wrinkled a little his freckled brow and bit, between his phrases, at a tiny bone pencil.
–I hope the matric men will all come. The first arts’ men are pretty sure. Second arts, too. We must make sure of the newcomers.
Temple bent again across Cranly, as they were passing through the doorway, and said in a swift whisper:
–Do you know that he is a married man? he was a married man before they converted him. He has a wife and children somewhere. By hell, I think that’s the queerest notion I ever heard! Eh?
His whisper trailed off into sly cackling laughter. The moment they were through the doorway Cranly seized him rudely by the neck and shook him, saying:
–You flaming floundering fool! I’ll take my dying bible there isn’t a bigger bloody ape, do you know, than you in the whole flaming bloody world!
Temple wriggled in his grip, laughing still with sly content, while Cranly repeated flatly at every rude shake:
–A flaming flaring bloody idiot!
They crossed the weedy garden together. The president, wrapped in a heavy loose cloak, was coming towards them along one of the walks, reading his office. At the end of the walk he halted before turning and raised his eyes. The students saluted, Temple fumbling as before at the peak of his cap. They walked forward in silence. As they neared the alley Stephen could hear the thuds of the players’ hands and the wet smacks of the ball and Davin’s voice crying out excitedly at each stroke.
The three students halted round the box on which Davin sat to follow the game. Temple, after a few moments, sidled across to Stephen and said:
–Excuse me, I wanted to ask you, do you believe that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a sincere man?
Stephen laughed outright. Cranly, picking up the broken stave of a cask from the grass at his feet, turned swiftly and said sternly:
–Temple, I declare to the living God if you say another word, do you know, to anybody on any subject, I’ll kill you SUPER SPOTTUM.
–He was like you, I fancy, said Stephen, an emotional man.
–Blast him, curse him! said Cranly broadly. Don’t talk to him at all. Sure, you might as well be talking, do you know, to a flaming chamber-pot as talking to Temple. Go home, Temple. For God’s sake, go home.
–I don’t care a damn about you, Cranly, answered Temple, moving out of reach of the uplifted stave and pointing at Stephen. He’s the only man I see in this institution that has an individual mind.
–Institution! Individual! cried Cranly. Go home, blast you, for you’re a hopeless bloody man.
–I’m an emotional man, said Temple. That’s quite rightly expressed. And I’m proud that I’m an emotionalist.
He sidled out of the alley, smiling slyly. Cranly watched him with a blank expressionless face.
–Look at him! he said. Did you ever see such a go-by-the-wall?
His phrase was greeted by a strange laugh from a student who lounged against the wall, his peaked cap down on his eyes. The laugh, pitched in a high key and coming from a so muscular frame, seemed like the whinny of an elephant. The student’s body shook all over and, to ease his mirth, he rubbed both his hands delightedly over his groins.
–Lynch is awake, said Cranly.
Lynch, for answer, straightened himself and thrust forward his chest.
–Lynch puts out his chest, said Stephen, as a criticism of life.
Lynch smote himself sonorously on the chest and said:
–Who has anything to say about my girth?
Cranly took him at the word and the two began to tussle. When their faces had flushed with the struggle they drew apart, panting. Stephen bent down towards Davin who, intent on the game, had paid no heed to the talk of the others.
–And how is my little tame goose? he asked. Did he sign, too?
David nodded and said:
–And you, Stevie?
Stephen shook his head.
–You’re a terrible man, Stevie, said Davin, taking the short pipe from his mouth, always alone.
–Now that you have signed the petition for universal peace, said Stephen, I suppose you will burn that little copybook I saw in your room.
As Davin did not answer, Stephen began to quote:
–Long pace, fianna! Right incline, fianna! Fianna, by numbers, salute, one, two!
–That’s a different question, said Davin. I’m an Irish nationalist, first and foremost. But that’s you all out. You’re a born sneerer, Stevie.
–When you make the next rebellion with hurleysticks, said Stephen, and want the indispensable informer, tell me. I can find you a few in this college.
–I can’t understand you, said Davin. One time I hear you talk against English literature. Now you talk against the Irish informers. What with your name and your ideas–Are you Irish at all?
–Come with me now to the office of arms and I will show you the tree of my family, said Stephen.
–Then be one of us, said Davin. Why don’t you learn Irish? Why did you drop out of the league class after the first lesson?
–You know one reason why, answered Stephen.
Davin tossed his head and laughed.
–Oh, come now, he said. Is it on account of that certain young lady and Father Moran? But that’s all in your own mind, Stevie. They were only talking and laughing.
Stephen paused and laid a friendly hand upon Davin’s shoulder.
–Do you remember, he said, when we knew each other first? The first morning we met you asked me to show you the way to the matriculation class, putting a very strong stress on the first syllable. You remember? Then you used to address the jesuits as father, you remember? I ask myself about you: IS HE AS INNOCENT AS HIS SPEECH?
–I’m a simple person, said Davin. You know that. When you told me that night in Harcourt Street those things about your private life, honest to God, Stevie, I was not able to eat my dinner. I was quite bad. I was awake a long time that night. Why did you tell me those things?
–Thanks, said Stephen. You mean I am a monster.
–No, said Davin. But I wish you had not told me.
A tide began to surge beneath the calm surface of Stephen’s friendliness.
–This race and this country and this life produced me, he said I shall express myself as I am.
–Try to be one of us, repeated Davin. In heart you are an Irish man but your pride is too powerful.
–My ancestors threw off their language and took another Stephen said. They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my own life and person debts they made? What for?
–For our freedom, said Davin.
–No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first.
–They died for their ideals, Stevie, said Davin. Our day will come yet, believe me.
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant.
–The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.
Davin knocked the ashes from his pipe.
–Too deep for me, Stevie, he said. But a man’s country comes first. Ireland first, Stevie. You can be a poet or a mystic after.
–Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.
Davin rose from his box and went towards the players, shaking his head sadly. But in a moment his sadness left him and he was hotly disputing with Cranly and the two players who had finished their game. A match of four was arranged, Cranly insisting, however, that his ball should be used. He let it rebound twice or thrice to his hand and struck it strongly and swiftly towards the base of the alley, exclaiming in answer to its thud:
Stephen stood with Lynch till the score began to rise. Then he plucked him by the sleeve to come away. Lynch obeyed, saying:
–Let us eke go, as Cranly has it.
Stephen smiled at this side-thrust.
They passed back through the garden and out through the hall where the doddering porter was pinning up a hall notice in the frame. At the foot of the steps they halted and Stephen took a packet of cigarettes from his pocket and offered it to his companion.
–I know you are poor, he said.
–Damn your yellow insolence, answered Lynch.
This second proof of Lynch’s culture made Stephen smile again.
–It was a great day for European culture, he said, when you made up your mind to swear in yellow.
They lit their cigarettes and turned to the right. After a pause Stephen began:
–Aristotle has not defined pity and terror. I have. I say–
Lynch halted and said bluntly:
–Stop! I won’t listen! I am sick. I was out last night on a yellow drunk with Horan and Goggins.
Stephen went on:
–Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer. Terror is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the secret cause.
–Repeat, said Lynch.
Stephen repeated the definitions slowly.
–A girl got into a hansom a few days ago, he went on, in London. She was on her way to meet her mother whom she had not seen for many years. At the corner of a street the shaft of a lorry shivered the window of the hansom in the shape of a star. A long fine needle of the shivered glass pierced her heart. She died on the instant. The reporter called it a tragic death. It is not. It is remote from terror and pity according to the terms of my definitions.
–The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, towards terror and towards pity, both of which are phases of it. You see I use the word ARREST. I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I used the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.
–You say that art must not excite desire, said Lynch. I told you that one day I wrote my name in pencil on the backside of the Venus of Praxiteles in the Museum. Was that not desire?
–I speak of normal natures, said Stephen. You also told me that when you were a boy in that charming carmelite school you ate pieces of dried cowdung.
Lynch broke again into a whinny of laughter and again rubbed both his hands over his groins but without taking them from his pockets.
–O, I did! I did! he cried.
Stephen turned towards his companion and looked at him for a moment boldly in the eyes. Lynch, recovering from his laughter, answered his look from his humbled eyes. The long slender flattened skull beneath the long pointed cap brought before Stephen’s mind the image of a hooded reptile. The eyes, too, were reptile-like in glint and gaze. Yet at that instant, humbled and alert in their look, they were lit by one tiny human point, the window of a shrivelled soul, poignant and self-embittered.
–As for that, Stephen said in polite parenthesis, we are all animals. I also am an animal.
–You are, said Lynch.
–But we are just now in a mental world, Stephen continued. The desire and loathing excited by improper esthetic means are really not esthetic emotions not only because they are kinetic in character but also because they are not more than physical. Our flesh shrinks from what it dreads and responds to the stimulus of what it desires by a purely reflex action of the nervous system. Our eyelid closes before we are aware that the fly is about to enter our eye.
–Not always, said Lynch critically.
–In the same way, said Stephen, your flesh responded to the stimulus of a naked statue, but it was, I say, simply a reflex action of the nerves. Beauty expressed by the artist cannot awaken in us an emotion which is kinetic or a sensation which is purely physical. It awakens, or ought to awaken, or induces, or ought to induce, an esthetic stasis, an ideal pity or an ideal terror, a stasis called forth, prolonged, and at last dissolved by what I call the rhythm of beauty.
–What is that exactly? asked Lynch.
–Rhythm, said Stephen, is the first formal esthetic relation of part to part in any esthetic whole or of an esthetic whole to its part or parts or of any part to the esthetic whole of which it is a part.
–If that is rhythm, said Lynch, let me hear what you call beauty; and, please remember, though I did eat a cake of cowdung once, that I admire only beauty.
Stephen raised his cap as if in greeting. Then, blushing slightly, he laid his hand on Lynch’s thick tweed sleeve.
–We are right, he said, and the others are wrong. To speak of these things and to try to understand their nature and, having understood it, to try slowly and humbly and constantly to express, to press out again, from the gross earth or what it brings forth, from sound and shape and colour which are the prison gates of our soul, an image of the beauty we have come to understand–that is art.
They had reached the canal bridge and, turning from their course, went on by the trees. A crude grey light, mirrored in the sluggish water and a smell of wet branches over their heads seemed to war against the course of Stephen’s thought.
–But you have not answered my question, said Lynch. What is art? What is the beauty it expresses?
–That was the first definition I gave you, you sleepy-headed wretch, said Stephen, when I began to try to think out the matter for myself. Do you remember the night? Cranly lost his temper and began to talk about Wicklow bacon.
–I remember, said Lynch. He told us about them flaming fat devils of pigs.
–Art, said Stephen, is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end. You remember the pigs and forget that. You are a distressing pair, you and Cranly.
Lynch made a grimace at the raw grey sky and said:
–If I am to listen to your esthetic philosophy give me at least another cigarette. I don’t care about it. I don’t even care about women. Damn you and damn everything. I want a job of five hundred a year. You can’t get me one.
Stephen handed him the packet of cigarettes. Lynch took the last one that remained, saying simply:
–Aquinas, said Stephen, says that is beautiful the apprehension of which pleases.
–I remember that, he said, PULCRA SUNT QUAE VISA PLACENT.
–He uses the word VISA, said Stephen, to cover esthetic apprehensions of all kinds, whether through sight or hearing or through any other avenue of apprehension. This word, though it is vague, is clear enough to keep away good and evil which excite desire and loathing. It means certainly a stasis and not a kinesis. How about the true? It produces also a stasis of the mind. You would not write your name in pencil across the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.
–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.
–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 Fortunatus.
Lynch began to sing softly and solemnly in a deep bass voice:
IMPLETA SUNT QUAE CONCINIT
DAVID FIDELI CARMINE
REGNAVIT A LIGNO DEUS.
–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 silence.
–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 REQUIRUNTUR INTEGRITAS, CONSONANTIA, CLARITAS. I translate it so: THREE THINGS ARE NEEDED FOR BEAUTY, WHOLENESS, HARMONY, AND RADIANCE. Do 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 INTEGRITAS.
–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 TRAGIC OR COMIC? IS THE PORTRAIT OF MONA LISA GOOD IF I DESIRE TO SEE IT? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
–Why not, indeed? said Lynch, laughing.
–IF A MAN HACKING IN FURY AT A BLOCK OF WOOD, Stephen continued, MAKE THERE AN IMAGE OF A COW, IS THAT IMAGE A WORK OF ART? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
–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 fingernails.
–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 city.
–Depends on the practice.
–EGO CREDO UT VITA PAUPERUM EST SIMPLICITER ATROX, SIMPLICITER SANGUINARIUS ATROX, IN LIVERPOOLIO.
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 face.
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 students.
–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 complain.
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 upstairs.
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, captain?
–What are you reading now, captain? Dixon asked. THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR?
–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 Forsters?
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.
–PERNOBILIS ET PERVETUSTA FAMILIA, Temple said to Stephen.
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 stinkpot.
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, saying:
–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 umbrella:
–Do you intend that… ?
He broke off, pointed bluntly to the munched pulp of the fig, and said loudly:
–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 colonnade.
–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.
–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 strong?
–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 Judgement?
–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 did.
–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 then.
–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 become.
–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 still–
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 you?
–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 yourself?
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 God?
–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 communion?
–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 bars:
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:
–ET TU CUM JESU GALILAEO ERAS.
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 Larras.
–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 robbed.
–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 brood.
–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 heifer.
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.
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 played O WILLIE, WE HAVE MISSED YOU.
A race of clodhoppers!
MARCH 25, MORNING. A troubled night of dreams. Want to get them off my chest.
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 vapours.
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 also.
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 world.
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 youth.
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 stead.