Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

MANANAUN MACLIR: (With a voice of waves) Aum! Hek! Wal! Ak! Lub! Mor! Ma! White yoghin of the gods. Occult pimander of Hermes Trismegistos. (With a voice of whistling seawind) Punarjanam patsypunjaub! I won't have my leg pulled. It has been said by one: beware the left, the cult of Shakti. (With a cry of stormbirds) Shakti Shiva, darkhidden Father! (He smites with his bicycle pump the crayfish in his left hand. On its cooperative dial glow the twelve signs of the zodiac. He wails with the vehemence of the ocean.) Aum! Baum! Pyjaum! I am the light of the homestead! I am the dreamery creamery butter.

(A skeleton judashand strangles the light. The green light wanes to mauve. The gasjet wails whistling.)

THE GASJET: Pooah! Pfuiiiiiii!

(Zoe runs to the chandelier and, crooking her leg, adjusts the mantle.)

ZOE: Who has a fag as I'm here?

LYNCH: (Tossing a cigarette on to the table) Here.

ZOE: (Her head perched aside in mock pride) Is that the way to hand the pot to a lady? (She stretches up to light the cigarette over the flame, twirling it slowly, showing the brown tufts of her armpits. Lynch with his poker lifts boldly a side of her slip. Bare from her garters up her flesh appears under the sapphire a nixie's green. She puffs calmly at her cigarette.) Can you see the beautyspot of my behind?

LYNCH: I'm not looking

ZOE: (Makes sheep's eyes) No? You wouldn't do a less thing. Would you suck a lemon?

(Squinting in mock shame she glances with sidelong meaning at Bloom, then twists round towards him, pulling her slip free of the poker. Blue fluid again flows over her flesh. Bloom stands, smiling desirously, twirling his thumbs. Kitty Ricketts licks her middle finger with her spittle and, gazing in the mirror, smooths both eyebrows. Lipoti Virag, basilicogrammate, chutes rapidly down through the chimneyflue and struts two steps to the left on gawky pink stilts. He is sausaged into several overcoats and wears a brown macintosh under which he holds a roll of parchment. In his left eye flashes the monocle of Cashel Boyle O'connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell. On his head is perched an Egyptian pshent. Two quills project over his ears.)

VIRAG: (Heels together, bows) My name is Virag Lipoti, of Szombathely. (He coughs thoughtfully, drily) Promiscuous nakedness is much in evidence hereabouts, eh? Inadvertently her backview revealed the fact that she is not wearing those rather intimate garments of which you are a particular devotee. The injection mark on the thigh I hope you perceived? Good.

BLOOM: Granpapachi. But . . .

VIRAG: Number two on the other hand, she of the cherry rouge and coiffeuse white, whose hair owes not a little to our tribal elixir of gopherwood, is in walking costume and tightly staysed by her sit, I should opine. Backbone in front, so to say. Correct me but I always understood that the act so performed by skittish humans with glimpses of lingerie appealed to you in virtue of its exhibitionististicicity. In a word. Hippogriff. Am I right?

BLOOM: She is rather lean.

VIRAG: (Not unpleasantly) Absolutely! Well observed and those pannier pockets of the skirt and slightly pegtop effect are devised to suggest bunchiness of hip. A new purchase at some monster sale for which a gull has been mulcted. Meretricious finery to deceive the eye. Observe the attention to details of dustspecks. Never put on you tomorrow what you can wear today. Parallax! (With a nervous twitch of his head) Did you hear my brain go snap? Pollysyllabax!

BLOOM: (An elbow resting in a hand, a forefinger against his cheek) She seems sad.

VIRAG: (Cynically, his weasel teeth bared yellow, draws down his left eye with a finger and barks hoarsely) Hoax! Beware of the flapper and bogus mournful. Lily of the alley. All possess bachelor's button discovered by Rualdus Columbus. Tumble her. Columble her. Chameleon. (More genially) Well then, permit me to draw your attention to item number three. There is plenty of her visible to the naked eye. Observe the mass of oxygenated vegetable matter on her skull. What ho, she bumps! The ugly duckling of the party, longcasted and deep in keel.

BLOOM: (Regretfully) When you come out without your gun.

VIRAG: We can do you all brands, mild, medium and strong. Pay your money, take your choice. How happy could you be with either . . .

BLOOM: With . . . ?

VIRAG: (His tongue upcurling) Lyum! Look. Her beam is broad. She is coated with quite a considerable layer of fat. Obviously mammal in weight of bosom you remark that she has in front well to the fore two protuberances of very respectable dimensions, inclined to fall in the noonday soupplate, while on her rere lower down are two additional protuberances, suggestive of potent rectum and tumescent for palpation, which leave nothing to be desired save compactness. Such fleshy parts are the product of careful nurture. When coopfattened their livers reach an elephantine size. Pellets of new bread with fennygreek and gumbenjamin swamped down by potions of green tea endow them during their brief existence with natural pincushions of quite colossal blubber. That suits your book, eh? Fleshhotpots of Egypt to hanker after. Wallow in it. Lycopodium. (His throat twitches) Slapbang! There he goes again.

BLOOM: The stye I dislike.

VIRAG: (Arches his eyebrows) Contact with a goldring, they say. Argumentum ad feminam, as we said in old Rome and ancient Greece in the consulship of Diplodocus and Ichthyosauros. For the rest Eve's sovereign remedy. Not for sale. Hire only. Huguenot. (He twitches) It is a funny sound. (He coughs encouragingly) But possibly it is only a wart. I presume you shall have remembered what I will have taught you on that head? Wheatenmeal with honey and nutmeg.

BLOOM: (Reflecting) Wheatenmeal with lycopodium and syllabax. This searching ordeal. It has been an unusually fatiguing day, a chapter of accidents. Wait. I mean, wartsblood spreads warts, you said . . .

VIRAG: (Severely, his nose hardhumped, his side eye winking) Stop twirling your thumbs and have a good old thunk. See, you have forgotten. Exercise your mnemotechnic. La causa e santa. Tara. Tara. (Aside) He will surely remember.

BLOOM: Rosemary also did I understand you to say or willpower over parasitic tissues. Then nay no I have an inkling. The touch of a deadhand cures. Mnemo?

VIRAG: (Excitedly) I say so. I say so. E'en so. Technic. (He taps his parchmentroll energetically) This book tells you how to act with all descriptive particulars. Consult index for agitated fear of aconite, melancholy of muriatic, priapic pulsatilla. Virag is going to talk about amputation. Our old friend caustic. They must be starved. Snip off with horsehair under the denned neck. But, to change the venue to the Bulgar and the Basque, have you made up your mind whether you like or dislike women in male habiliments? (With a dry snigger) You intended to devote an entire year to the study of the religious problem and the summer months of 1886 to square the circle and win that million. Pomegranate! From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. Pyjamas, let us say? Or stockingette gussetted knickers, closed? Or, put we the case, those complicated combinations, camiknickers? (He crows derisively) Keekeereekee!

(Bloom surveys uncertainly the three whores then gazes at the veiled mauve light, hearing the everflying moth.)

BLOOM: I wanted then to have now concluded. Nightdress was never. Hence this. But tomorrow is a new day will be. Past was is today. What now is will then morrow as now was be past yester.

VIRAG: (Prompts in a pig's whisper) Insects of the day spend their brief existence in reiterated coition, lured by the smell of the inferiorly pulchritudinous fumale possessing extendified pudendal nerve in dorsal region. Pretty Poll! (His yellow parrotbeak gabbles nasally) They had a proverb in the Carpathians in or about the year five thousand five hundred and fifty of our era. One tablespoonful of honey will attract friend Bruin more than half a dozen barrels of first choice malt vinegar. Bear's buzz bothers bees. But of this apart. At another time we may resume. We were very pleased, we others. (He coughs and, bending his brow, rubs his nose thoughtfully with a scooping hand) You shall find that these night insects follow the light. An illusion for remember their complex unadjustable eye. For all these knotty points see the seventeenth book of my Fundamentals of Sexology or the Love Passion which Doctor L.B. says is the book sensation of the year. Some, to example, there are again whose movements are automatic. Perceive. That is his appropriate sun. Nightbird nightsun nighttown. Chase me, Charley! (He blows into bloom's ear) Buzz!

BLOOM: Bee or bluebottle too other day butting shadow on wall dazed self then me wandered dazed down shirt good job I . . .

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

At the graveside where Paddy Dignam is to be buried, the mysterious man in a Macintosh coat turns out to be