Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

MESIAS: To alteration one pair trousers eleven shillings.

BLOOM: (Rubs his hands cheerfully) Just like old times. Poor Bloom!

(Reuben J Dodd, blackbearded iscariot, bad shepherd, bearing on his shoulders the drowned corpse of his son, approaches the pillory.)

REUBEN J: (Whispers hoarsely) The squeak is out. A split is gone for the flatties. Nip the first rattler.


BROTHER BUZZ: (Invests Bloom in a yellow habit with embroidery of painted flames and high pointed hat. He places a bag of gunpowder round his neck and hands him over to the civil power, saying) Forgive him his trespasses.

(Lieutenant Myers of the Dublin Fire Brigade by general request sets fire to Bloom. Lamentations.)

THE CITIZEN: Thank heaven!

BLOOM: (In a seamless garment marked I. H. S. stands upright amid phoenix flames) Weep not for me, O daughters of Erin.

(He exhibits to Dublin reporters traces of burning. The daughters of Erin, in black garments, with large prayerbooks and long lighted candles in their hands, kneel down and pray.)


Kidney of Bloom, pray for us
Flower of the Bath, pray for us
Mentor of Menton, pray for us
Canvasser for the Freeman, pray for us
Charitable Mason, pray for us
Wandering Soap, pray for us
Sweets of Sin, pray for us
Music without Words, pray for us
Reprover of the Citizen, pray for us
Friend of all Frillies, pray for us
Midwife Most Merciful, pray for us
Potato Preservative against Plague and Pestilence, pray for us.

(A choir of six hundred voices, conducted by Vincent O'brien, sings the chorus from Handel's Messiah alleluia for the lord god omnipotent reigneth, accompanied on the organ by Joseph Glynn. Bloom becomes mute, shrunken, carbonised.)

ZOE: Talk away till you're black in the face.

BLOOM: (In caubeen with clay pipe stuck in the band, dusty brogues, an emigrant's red handkerchief bundle in his hand, leading a black bogoak pig by a sugaun, with a smile in his eye) Let me be going now, woman of the house, for by all the goats in Connemara I'm after having the father and mother of a bating. (With a tear in his eye) All insanity. Patriotism, sorrow for the dead, music, future of the race. To be or not to be. Life's dream is o'er. End it peacefully. They can live on. (He gazes far away mournfully) I am ruined. A few pastilles of aconite. The blinds drawn. A letter. Then lie back to rest. (He breathes softly) No more. I have lived. Fare. Farewell.

ZOE: (Stiffly, her finger in her neckfillet) Honest? Till the next time. (She sneers) Suppose you got up the wrong side of the bed or came too quick with your best girl. O, I can read your thoughts!

BLOOM: (Bitterly) Man and woman, love, what is it? A cork and bottle. I'm sick of it. Let everything rip.

ZOE: (In sudden sulks) I hate a rotter that's insincere. Give a bleeding whore a chance.

BLOOM: (Repentantly) I am very disagreeable. You are a necessary evil. Where are you from? London?

ZOE: (Glibly) Hog's Norton where the pigs plays the organs. I'm Yorkshire born. (She holds his hand which is feeling for her nipple) I say, Tommy Tittlemouse. Stop that and begin worse. Have you cash for a short time? Ten shillings?

BLOOM: (Smiles, nods slowly) More, houri, more.

ZOE: And more's mother? (She pats him offhandedly with velvet paws) Are you coming into the musicroom to see our new pianola? Come and I'll peel off.

BLOOM: (Feeling his occiput dubiously with the unparalleled embarrassment of a harassed pedlar gauging the symmetry of her peeled pears) Somebody would be dreadfully jealous if she knew. The greeneyed monster. (Earnestly) You know how difficult it is. I needn't tell you.

ZOE: (Flattered) What the eye can't see the heart can't grieve for. (She pats him) Come.

BLOOM: Laughing witch! The hand that rocks the cradle.

ZOE: Babby!

BLOOM: (In babylinen and pelisse, bigheaded, with a caul of dark hair, fixes big eyes on her fluid slip and counts its bronze buckles with a chubby finger, his moist tongue lolling and lisping) One two tlee: tlee tlwo tlone.

THE BUCKLES: Love me. Love me not. Love me.

ZOE: Silent means consent. (With little parted talons she captures his hand, her forefinger giving to his palm the passtouch of secret monitor, luring him to doom.) Hot hands cold gizzard.

(He hesitates amid scents, music, temptations. She leads him towards the steps, drawing him by the odour of her armpits, the vice of her painted eyes, the rustle of her slip in whose sinuous folds lurks the lion reek of all the male brutes that have possessed her.)

THE MALE BRUTES: (Exhaling sulphur of rut and dung and ramping in their loosebox, faintly roaring, their drugged heads swaying to and fro) Good!

(Zoe and Bloom reach the doorway where two sister whores are seated. They examine him curiously from under their pencilled brows and smile to his hasty bow. He trips awkwardly.)

ZOE: (Her lucky hand instantly saving him) Hoopsa! Don't fall upstairs.

BLOOM: The just man falls seven times. (He stands aside at the threshold) After you is good manners.

ZOE: Ladies first, gentlemen after.

(She crosses the threshold. He hesitates. She turns and, holding out her hands, draws him over. He hops. On the antlered rack of the hall hang a man 's hat and waterproof. Bloom uncovers himself but, seeing them, frowns, then smiles, preoccupied. A door on the return landing is flung open. A man in purple shirt and grey trousers, brownsocked, passes with an ape's gait, his bald head and goatee beard upheld, hugging a full waterjugjar, his twotailed black braces dangling at heels. Averting his face quickly Bloom bends to examine on the halltable the spaniel eyes of a running fox: then, his lifted head sniffing, follows Zoe into the musicroom. A shade of mauve tissuepaper dims the light of the chandelier. Round and round a moth flies, colliding, escaping. The floor is covered with an oilcloth mosaic of jade and azure and cinnabar rhomboids. Footmarks are stamped over it in all senses, heel to heel, heel to hollow, toe to toe, feet locked, a morris of shuffling feet without body phantoms, all in a scrimmage higgledypiggledy. The walls are tapestried with a paper of yewfronds and clear glades. In the grate is spread a screen of peacock feathers. Lynch squats crosslegged on the hearthrug of matted hair, his cap back to the front. With a wand he beats time slowly. Kitty Ricketts, a bony pallid whore in navy costume, doeskin gloves rolled back from a coral wristlet, a chain purse in her hand, sits perched on the edge of the table swinging her leg and glancing at herself in the gilt mirror over the mantelpiece. A tag of her corsetlace hangs slightly below her jacket. Lynch indicates mockingly the couple at the piano.)

KITTY: (Coughs behind her hand) She's a bit imbecillic. (She signs with a waggling forefinger) Blemblem. (Lynch lifts up her skirt and white petticoat with his wand she settles them down quickly.) Respect yourself. (She hiccups, then bends quickly her sailor hat under which her hair glows, red with henna) O, excuse!

ZOE: More limelight, Charley. (She goes to the chandelier and turns the gas full cock)

KITTY: (Peers at the gasjet) What ails it tonight?

LYNCH: (Deeply) Enter a ghost and hobgoblins.

ZOE: Clap on the back for Zoe.

(The wand in Lynch's hand flashes: a brass poker. Stephen stands at the pianola on which sprawl his hat and ashplant. With two fingers he repeats once more the series of empty fifths. Florry Talbot, a blond feeble goosefat whore in a tatterdemalion gown of mildewed strawberry, lolls spreadeagle in the sofacorner, her limp forearm pendent over the bolster, listening. A heavy stye droops over her sleepy eyelid.)

KITTY: (Hiccups again with a kick of her horsed foot) O, excuse!

ZOE: (Promptly) Your boy's thinking of you. Tie a knot on your shift.

(Kitty Ricketts bends her head. Her boa uncoils, slides, glides over her shoulder, back, arm, chair to the ground. Lynch lifts the curled caterpillar on his wand. She snakes her neck, nestling. Stephen glances behind at the squatted figure with its cap back to the front.)

STEPHEN: As a matter of fact it is of no importance whether Benedetto Marcello found it or made it. The rite is the poet's rest. It may be an old hymn to Demeter or also illustrate Coela enarrant gloriam Domini. It is susceptible of nodes or modes as far apart as hyperphrygian and mixolydian and of texts so divergent as priests haihooping round David's that is Circe's or what am I saying Ceres' altar and David's tip from the stable to his chief bassoonist about the alrightness of his almightiness. Mais nom de nom, that is another pair of trousers. Jetez la gourme. Faut que jeunesse se passe. (He stops, points at Lynch's cap, smiles, laughs) Which side is your knowledge bump?

THE CAP: (With saturnine spleen) Bah! It is because it is. Woman's reason. Jewgreek is greekjew. Extremes meet. Death is the highest form of life. Bah!

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