Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled tramsiding set with skeleton tracks, red and green will-o'-the-wisps and danger signals. Rows of grimy houses with gaping doors. Rare lamps with faint rainbow fins. Round Rabaiotti's halted ice gondola stunted men and women squabble. They grab wafers between which are wedged lumps of coral and copper snow. Sucking, they scatter slowly. Children. The swancomb of the gondola, highreared, forges on through the murk, white and blue under a lighthouse. Whistles call and answer.

THE CALLS: Wait, my love, and I'll be with you.

THE ANSWERS: Round behind the stable.

(A deafmute idiot with goggle eyes, his shapeless mouth dribbling, jerks past, shaken in Saint Vitus' dance. A chain of children 's hands imprisons him.)

THE CHILDREN: Kithogue! Salute!

THE IDIOT: (Lifts a palsied left arm and gurgles) Grhahute!

THE CHILDREN: Where's the great light?

THE IDIOT: (Gobbing) Ghaghahest.

(They release him. He jerks on. A pigmy woman swings on a rope slung between two railings, counting. A form sprawled against a dustbin and muffled by its arm and hat snores, groans, grinding growling teeth, and snores again. On a step a gnome totting among a rubbishtip crouches to shoulder a sack of rags and bones. A crone standing by with a smoky oillamp rams her last bottle in the maw of his sack. He heaves his booty, tugs askew his peaked cap and hobbles off mutely. The crone makes back for her lair, swaying her lamp. A bandy child, asquat on the doorstep with a paper shuttlecock, crawls sidling after her in spurts, clutches her skirt, scrambles up. A drunken navvy grips with both hands the railings of an area, lurching heavily. At a comer two night watch in shouldercapes, their hands upon their staffholsters, loom tall. A plate crashes: a woman screams: a child wails. Oaths of a man roar, mutter, cease. Figures wander, lurk, peer from warrens. In a room lit by a candle stuck in a bottleneck a slut combs out the tatts from the hair of a scrofulous child. Cissy Caffrey's voice, still young, sings shrill from a lane.)

CISSY CAFFREY:

I gave it to Molly
Because she was jolly,
The leg of the duck,
The leg of the duck.

(Private Carr and Private Compton, swaggersticks tight in their oxters, as they march unsteadily rightaboutface and burst together from their mouths a volleyed fart. Laughter of men from the lane. A hoarse virago retorts.)

THE VIRAGO: Signs on you, hairy arse. More power the Cavan girl.

CISSY CAFFREY: More luck to me. Cavan, Cootehill and Belturbet. (She sings)

I gave it to Nelly
To stick in her belly,
The leg of the duck,
The leg of the duck.

(Private Carr and Private Compton turn and counterretort, their tunics bloodbright in a lampglow, black sockets of caps on their blond cropped polls. Stephen Dedalus and Lynch pass through the crowd close to the redcoats.)

PRIVATE COMPTON: (Jerks his finger) Way for the parson.

PRIVATE CARR: (Turns and calls) What ho, parson!

CISSY CAFFREY: (Her voice soaring higher)

She has it, she got it,
Wherever she put it,
The leg of the duck.

(Stephen, flourishing the ashplant in his left hand, chants with joy the introit for paschal time. Lynch, his jockeycap low on his brow, attends him, a sneer of discontent wrinkling his face.)

STEPHEN: Vidi aquam egredientem de templo a latere dextro. Alleluia.

(The famished snaggletusks of an elderly bawd protrude from a doorway.)

THE BAWD: (Her voice whispering huskily) Sst! Come here till I tell you. Maidenhead inside. Sst!

STEPHEN: (Altius aliquantulum) Et omnes ad quos pervenit aqua ista.

THE BAWD: (Spits in their trail her jet of venom) Trinity medicals. Fallopian tube. All prick and no pence.

(Edy Boardman, sniffling, crouched with bertha supple, draws her shawl across her nostrils.)

EDY BOARDMAN: (Bickering) And says the one: I seen you up Faithful place with your squarepusher, the greaser off the railway, in his cometobed hat. Did you, says I. That's not for you to say, says I. You never seen me in the mantrap with a married highlander, says I. The likes of her! Stag that one is! Stubborn as a mule! And her walking with two fellows the one time, Kilbride, the enginedriver, and lancecorporal Oliphant.

STEPHEN: (Ttriumphaliter) Salvi facti sunt.

(He flourishes his ashplant, shivering the lamp image, shattering light over the world. A liver and white spaniel on the prowl slinks after him, growling. Lynch scares it with a kick.)

LYNCH: So that?

STEPHEN: (Looks behind) So that gesture, not music not odour, would be a universal language, the gift of tongues rendering visible not the lay sense but the first entelechy, the structural rhythm.

LYNCH: Pornosophical philotheology. Metaphysics in Mecklenburgh street!

STEPHEN: We have shrewridden Shakespeare and henpecked Socrates. Even the allwisest Stagyrite was bitted, bridled and mounted by a light of love.

LYNCH: Ba!

STEPHEN: Anyway, who wants two gestures to illustrate a loaf and a jug? This movement illustrates the loaf and jug of bread or wine in Omar. Hold my stick.

LYNCH: Damn your yellow stick. Where are we going?

STEPHEN: Lecherous lynx, to la belle dame sans merci, Georgina Johnson, ad deam qui laetificat iuventutem meam.

(Stephen thrusts the ashplant on him and slowly holds out his hands, his head going back till both hands are a span from his breast, down turned, in planes intersecting, the fingers about to part, the left being higher.)

LYNCH: Which is the jug of bread? It skills not. That or the customhouse. Illustrate thou. Here take your crutch and walk.

(They pass. Tommy Caffrey scrambles to a gaslamp and, clasping, climbs in spasms. From the top spur he slides down. Jacky Caffrey clasps to climb. The navvy lurches against the lamp. The twins scuttle off in the dark. The navvy, swaying, presses a forefinger against a wing of his nose and ejects from the farther nostril a long liquid jet of snot. Shouldering the lamp he staggers away through the crowd with his flaring cresset.

Snakes of river fog creep slowly. From drains, clefts, cesspools, middens arise on all sides stagnant fumes. A glow leaps in the south beyond the seaward reaches of the river. The navvy, staggering forward, cleaves the crowd and lurches towards the tramsiding on the farther side under the railway bridge bloom appears, flushed, panting, cramming bread and chocolate into a sidepocket. From Gillen's hairdresser's window a composite portrait shows him gallant Nelson's image. A concave mirror at the side presents to him lovelorn longlost lugubru Booloohoom. Grave Gladstone sees him level, Bloom for Bloom. he passes, struck by the stare of truculent Wellington, but in the convex mirror grin unstruck the bonham eyes and fatchuck cheekchops of Jollypoldy the rixdix doldy.

At Antonio Pabaiotti's door Bloom halts, sweated under the bright arclamp. He disappears. In a moment he reappears and hurries on.)

BLOOM: Fish and taters. N. g. Ah!

(He disappears into Olhausen's, the porkbutcher's, under the downcoming rollshutter. A few moments later he emerges from under the shutter, puffing Poldy, blowing Bloohoom. In each hand he holds a parcel, one containing a lukewarm pig's crubeen, the other a cold sheep's trotter, sprinkled with wholepepper. He gasps, standing upright. Then bending to one side he presses a parcel against his ribs and groans.)

BLOOM: Stitch in my side. Why did I run?

(He takes breath with care and goes forward slowly towards the lampset siding. The glow leaps again.)

BLOOM: What is that? A flasher? Searchlight.

(He stands at Cormack's corner, watching)

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