Ulysses By James Joyce Chapter 15 - Circe

STEPHEN: Lucifer. Thanks.

BLOOM: (Quietly) You had better hand over that cash to me to take care of. Why pay more?

STEPHEN: (Hands him all his coins) Be just before you are generous.

BLOOM: I will but is it wise? (He counts) One, seven, eleven, and five. Six. Eleven. I don't answer for what you may have lost.

STEPHEN: Why striking eleven? Proparoxyton. Moment before the next Lessing says. Thirsty fox. (He laughs loudly) Burying his grandmother. Probably he killed her.

BLOOM: That is one pound six and eleven. One pound seven, say.

STEPHEN: Doesn't matter a rambling damn.

BLOOM: No, but . . .

STEPHEN: (Comes to the table) Cigarette, please. (Lynch tosses a cigarette from the sofa to the table) And so Georgina Johnson is dead and married. (A cigarette appears on the table. Stephen looks at it) Wonder. Parlour magic. Married. Hm. (He strikes a match and proceeds to light the cigarette with enigmatic melancholy)

LYNCH: (Watching him) You would have a better chance of lighting it if you held the match nearer.

STEPHEN: (Brings the match near his eye) Lynx eye. Must get glasses. Broke them yesterday. Sixteen years ago. Distance. The eye sees all flat. (He draws the match away. It goes out.) Brain thinks. Near: far. Ineluctable modality of the visible. (He frowns mysteriously) Hm. Sphinx. The beast that has twobacks at midnight. Married.

ZOE: It was a commercial traveller married her and took her away with him.

FLORRY: (Nods) Mr Lambe from London.

STEPHEN: Lamb of London, who takest away the sins of our world.

LYNCH: (Embracing Kitty on the sofa, chants deeply) Dona nobis pacem.

(The cigarette slips from Stephen 's fingers. Bloom picks it up and throws it in the grate.)

BLOOM: Don't smoke. You ought to eat. Cursed dog I met. (To Zoe) You have nothing?

ZOE: Is he hungry?

STEPHEN: (Extends his hand to her smiling and chants to the air of the bloodoath in the Dusk of the Gods)

Hangende Hunger,
Fragende Frau,
Macht uns alle kaputt.

ZOE: (Tragically) Hamlet, I am thy father's gimlet! (She takes his hand) Blue eyes beauty I'll read your hand. (She points to his forehead) No wit, no wrinkles. (She counts) Two, three, Mars, that's courage. (Stephen shakes his head) No kid.

LYNCH: Sheet lightning courage. The youth who could not shiver and shake. (To Zoe) Who taught you palmistry?

ZOE: (Turns) Ask my ballocks that I haven't got. (To Stephen) I see it in your face. The eye, like that. (She frowns with lowered head)

LYNCH: (Laughing, slaps Kitty behind twice) Like that. Pandybat.

(Twice loudly a pandybat cracks, the coffin of the pianola flies open, the bald little round jack-in-the-box head of Father Dolan springs up.)

FATHER DOLAN: Any boy want flogging? Broke his glasses? Lazy idle little schemer. See it in your eye.

(Mild, benign, rectorial, reproving, the head of Don John Conmee rises from the pianola coffin.)

DON JOHN CONMEE: Now, Father Dolan! Now. I'm sure that Stephen is a very good little boy!

ZOE: (Examining Stephen's palm) Woman's hand.

STEPHEN: (Murmurs) Continue. Lie. Hold me. Caress. I never could read His handwriting except His criminal thumbprint on the haddock.

ZOE: What day were you born?

STEPHEN: Thursday. Today.

ZOE: Thursday's child has far to go. (She traces lines on his hand) Line of fate. Influential friends.

FLORRY: (Pointing) Imagination.

ZOE: Mount of the moon. You'll meet with a . . . (She peers at his hands abruptly) I won't tell you what's not good for you. Or do you want to know?

BLOOM: (Detaches her fingers and offers his palm) More harm than good. Here. Read mine.

BELLA: Show. (She turns up bloom's hand) I thought so. Knobby knuckles for the women.

ZOE: (Peering at bloom's palm) Gridiron. Travels beyond the sea and marry money.

BLOOM: Wrong.

ZOE: (Quickly) O, I see. Short little finger. Henpecked husband. That wrong?

(Black Liz, a huge rooster hatching in a chalked circle, rises, stretches her wings and clucks.)

BLACK LIZ: Gara. Klook. Klook. Klook.

(She sidles from her newlaid egg and waddles off)

BLOOM: (Points to his hand) That weal there is an accident. Fell and cut it twentytwo years ago. I was sixteen.

ZOE: I see, says the blind man. Tell us news.

STEPHEN: See? Moves to one great goal. I am twentytwo. Sixteen years ago he was twentytwo too. Sixteen years ago I twentytwo tumbled. Twentytwo years ago he sixteen fell off his hobbyhorse. (He winces) Hurt my hand somewhere. Must see a dentist. Money?

(Zoe whispers to Florry. They giggle. Bloom releases his hand and writes idly on the table in backhand, pencilling slow curves.)

FLORRY: What?

(A hackneycar, number three hundred and twentyfour, with a gallantbuttocked mare, driven by James Barton, Harmony Avenue, Donnybrook, trots past. Blazes Boylan and Lenehan sprawl swaying on the sideseats. The Ormond boots crouches behind on the axle. Sadly over the crossblind Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy gaze.)

THE BOOTS: (Jogging, mocks them with thumb and wriggling wormfingers) Haw haw have you the horn?

(Bronze by gold they whisper.)

ZOE: (To Florry) Whisper.

(They whisper again)

(Over the well of the car Blazes Boylan leans, his boater straw set sideways, a red flower in his mouth. Lenehan in yachtsman's cap and white shoes officiously detaches a long hair from Blazes Boylan's coat shoulder.)

LENEHAN: Ho! What do I here behold? Were you brushing the cobwebs off a few quims?

BOYLAN: (Seated, smiles) Plucking a turkey.

LENEHAN: A good night's work.

BOYLAN: (Holding up four thick bluntungulated fingers, winks) Blazes Kate! Up to sample or your money back. (He holds out a forefinger) Smell that.

LENEHAN: (Smells gleefully) Ah! Lobster and mayonnaise. Ah!

ZOE AND FLORRY: (Laugh together) Ha ha ha ha.

BOYLAN: (Jumps surely from the car and calls loudly for all to hear) Hello, Bloom! Mrs Bloom dressed yet?

BLOOM: (In flunkey's prune plush coat and kneebreeches, buff stockings and powdered wig) I'm afraid not, sir. The last articles . . .

BOYLAN: (Tosses him sixpence) Here, to buy yourself a gin and splash. (He hangs his hat smartly on a peg of Bloom's antlered head) Show me in. I have a little private business with your wife, you understand?

BLOOM: Thank you, sir. Yes, sir. Madam Tweedy is in her bath, sir.

MARION: He ought to feel himself highly honoured. (She plops splashing out of the water) Raoul darling, come and dry me. I'm in my pelt. Only my new hat and a carriage sponge.

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




Quiz