Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

BLOOM: It overpowers me. The warm impress of her warm form. Even to sit where a woman has sat, especially with divaricated thighs, as though to grant the last favours, most especially with previously well uplifted white sateen coatpans. So womanly, full. It fills me full.


Phillaphulla Poulaphouca Poulaphouca Poulaphouca.

THE YEWS: Ssh! Sister, speak!

THE NYMPH: (Eyeless, in nun's white habit, coif and hugewinged wimple, softly, with remote eyes) Tranquilla convent. Sister Agatha. Mount Carmel. The apparitions of Knock and Lourdes. No more desire. (She reclines her head, sighing) Only the ethereal. Where dreamy creamy gull waves o'er the waters dull.

(Bloom half rises. His back trouserbutton snaps.)


(Two sluts of the coombe dance rainily by, shawled, yelling flatly.)


O, Leopold lost the pin of his drawers
He didn't know what to do,
To keep it up,
To keep it up.

BLOOM: (Coldly) You have broken the spell. The last straw. If there were only ethereal where would you all be, postulants and novices? Shy but willing like an ass pissing.

THE YEWS: (Their silverfoil of leaves precipitating, their skinny arms aging and swaying) Deciduously!

THE NYMPH: (Her features hardening, gropes in the folds of her habit) Sacrilege! To attempt my virtue! (A large moist stain appears on her robe) Sully my innocence! You are not fit to touch the garment of a pure woman. (She clutches again in her robe) Wait. Satan, you'll sing no more lovesongs. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. (She draws a poniard and, clad in the sheathmail of an elected knight of nine, strikes at his loins) Nekum!

BLOOM: (Starts up, seizes her hand) Hoy! Nebrakada! Cat o' nine lives! Fair play, madam. No pruningknife. The fox and the grapes, is it? What do you lack with your barbed wire? Crucifix not thick enough? (He clutches her veil) A holy abbot you want or Brophy, the lame gardener, or the spoutless statue of the watercarrier, or good mother Alphonsus, eh Reynard?

THE NYMPH: (With a cry flees from him unveiled, her plaster cast cracking, a cloud of stench escaping from the cracks) Poli . . . !

BLOOM: (Calls after her) As if you didn't get it on the double yourselves. No jerks and multiple mucosities all over you. I tried it. Your strength our weakness. What's our studfee? What will you pay on the nail? You fee mendancers on the Riviera, I read. (The fleeing nymph raises a keen) Eh? I have sixteen years of black slave labour behind me. And would a jury give me five shillings alimony tomorrow, eh? Fool someone else, not me. (He sniffs) Rut. Onions. Stale. Sulphur. Grease.

(The figure of Bella Cohen stands before him.)

BELLA: You'll know me the next time.

BLOOM: (Composed, regards her) Passee. Mutton dressed as lamb. Long in the tooth and superfluous hair. A raw onion the last thing at night would benefit your complexion. And take some double chin drill. Your eyes are as vapid as the glasseyes of your stuffed fox. They have the dimensions of your other features, that's all. I'm not a triple screw propeller.

BELLA: (Contemptuously) You're not game, in fact. (Her sowcunt barks) Fbhracht!

BLOOM: (Contemptuously) Clean your nailless middle finger first, your bully's cold spunk is dripping from your cockscomb. Take a handful of hay and wipe yourself.

BELLA: I know you, canvasser! Dead cod!

BLOOM: I saw him, kipkeeper! Pox and gleet vendor!

BELLA: (Turns to the piano) Which of you was playing the dead march from Saul?

ZOE: Me. Mind your cornflowers. (She darts to the piano and bangs chords on it with crossed arms) The cat's ramble through the slag. (She glances back) Eh? Who's making love to my sweeties? (She darts back to the table) What's yours is mine and what's mine is my own.

(Kitty, disconcerted, coats her teeth with the silver paper. Bloom approaches Zoe.)

BLOOM: (Gently) Give me back that potato, will you?

ZOE: Forfeits, a fine thing and a superfine thing.

BLOOM: (With feeling) It is nothing, but still, a relic of poor mamma.


Give a thing and take it back
God'll ask you where is that
You'll say you don't know
God'll send you down below.

BLOOM: There is a memory attached to it. I should like to have it.

STEPHEN: To have or not to have that is the question.

ZOE: Here. (She hauls up a reef of her slip, revealing her bare thigh, and unrolls the potato from the top of her stocking) Those that hides knows where to find.

BELLA: (Frowns) Here. This isn't a musical peepshow. And don't you smash that piano. Who's paying here?

(She goes to the pianola. Stephen fumbles in his pocket and, taking out a banknote by its corner, hands it to her.)

STEPHEN: (With exaggerated politeness) This silken purse I made out of the sow's ear of the public. Madam, excuse me. If you allow me. (He indicates vaguely Lynch and Bloom) We are all in the same sweepstake, Kinch and Lynch. Dans ce bordel ou tenons nostre etat.

LYNCH: (Calls from the hearth) Dedalus! Give her your blessing for me.

STEPHEN: (Hands Bella a coin) Gold. She has it.

BELLA: (Looks at the money, then at Stephen, then at Zoe, Florry and Kitty) Do you want three girls? It's ten shillings here.

STEPHEN: (Delightedly) A hundred thousand apologies. (He fumbles again and takes out and hands her two crowns) Permit, brevi manu, my sight is somewhat troubled.

(Bella goes to the table to count the money while Stephen talks to himself in monosyllables. Zoe bends over the table. Kitty leans over Zoe's neck. Lynch gets up, rights his cap and, clasping Kitty's waist, adds his head to the group.)

FLORRY: (Strives heavily to rise) Ow! My foot's asleep. (She limps over to the table. Bloom approaches.)

BELLA, ZOE, KITTY, LYNCH, BLOOM: (Chattering and squabbling) The gentleman . . . ten shillings . . . paying for the three . . . allow me a moment . . . this gentleman pays separate . . . who's touching it? . . . ow! . . . mind who you're pinching . . . are you staying the night or a short time? . . . who did? . . . you're a liar, excuse me . . . the gentleman paid down like a gentleman . . . drink . . . it's long after eleven.

STEPHEN: (At the pianola, making a gesture of abhorrence) No bottles! What, eleven? A riddle!

ZOE: (Lifting up her pettigown and folding a half sovereign into the top of her stocking) Hard earned on the flat of my back.

LYNCH: (Lifting Kitty from the table) Come!

KITTY: Wait. (She clutches the two crowns)

FLORRY: And me?

LYNCH: Hoopla! (He lifts her, carries her and bumps her down on the sofa.)


The fox crew, the cocks flew,
The bells in heaven
Were striking eleven.
'Tis time for her poor soul
To get out of heaven.

BLOOM: (Quietly lays a half sovereign on the table between bella and florry) So. Allow me. (He takes up the poundnote) Three times ten. We're square.

BELLA: (Admiringly) You're such a slyboots, old cocky. I could kiss you.

ZOE: (Points) Him? Deep as a drawwell. (Lynch bends Kitty back over the sofa and kisses her. Bloom goes with the poundnote to Stephen.)

BLOOM: This is yours.

STEPHEN: How is that? Les distrait or absentminded beggar. (He fumbles again in his pocket and draws out a handful of coins. An object fills.) That fell.

BLOOM: (Stooping, picks up and hands a box of matches) This.

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