|Trieste, 1915. Photograph by Ottacaro Weiss, a friend who was "scandalized" by Joyce's guitar playing. The guitar is now on display at the James Joyce Museum in Martello Tower. (From the Poetry/Rare Books Collection, University Libraries, State University of New York at Buffalo. Information by Bob Cato and Allen Ruch.)|
The poems begin with an enchanting musical prelude (Poems I – III), three poems which invoke themes of nature, music and love. As the poet goes on to woo his love, the poems grow a little more detailed, occasionally shifting into an Elizabethan mode. After finally winning her in Poem XI, especially notable for the use of the words "snood," "unzone," and "maidenhood" in the same verse, we sense that Celtic twilight descending as the poet and his lover wander across dark starry lands and dewy gardens, in love, harking to the wise choirs of faery. Ah, but this is Joyce, after all, and trouble rears its head as the poet's jealous friend confounds their love throughout Poem XVII – XVII. There is a split, and the young maiden is dishonored (Poem XIX) until the poet declares his love above all else (Poem XXI). After that, however, their love loses some of the lyrical innocence that marked its beginning, and the poems grow increasingly more bittersweet. Eventually – and here we split from autobiography, for Nora remained with Joyce – the poet's lover drifts apart from him, and by Poem XXVIII things are looking pretty grim. By Poem XXX it is all over, and the poet muses on his lost love as the year winds to a chilly end. The last three poems find the poet alone, crying his melancholy to the winter and the unquiet sea. Finally, in Poem XXXVI, this despair is voiced in a very Yeatsian vision of an onrushing army. This final poem – a very good piece, and perhaps the best in the collection – is as far away from the first poem as a mournful Irish lament is from a merry Elizabethan air.
Strings in the earth and air
The twilight turns from amethyst
At that hour when all things have repose,
When the shy star goes forth in heaven
Lean out of the window,
I would in that sweet bosom be
My love is in a light attire
Who goes amid the green wood
Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
Bright cap and streamers,
Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,
What counsel has the hooded moon
Go seek her out all courteously,
My dove, my beautiful one,
From dewy dreams, my soul, arise,
O cool is the valley now
Because your voice was at my side
O Sweetheart, hear you
Be not sad because all men
In the dark pine-wood
He who hath glory lost, nor hath
Of that so sweet imprisonment
This heart that flutters near my heart
Silently she's combing,
Lightly come or lightly go:
Thou leanest to the shell of night,
Though I thy Mithridates were,
Gentle lady, do not sing
Dear heart, why will you use me so?
Love came to us in time gone by
O, it was out by Donnycarney
Rain has fallen all the day.
Now, O now, in this brown land
Sleep now, O sleep now,
All day I hear the noise of waters
I hear an army charging upon the land,
Make music sweet;
The willows meet.
For Love wanders there,
Dark leaves on his hair.
With head to the music bent,
Upon an instrument.
To deep and deeper blue,
The trees of the avenue.
Sedate and slow and gay;
Her head inclines this way.
That wander as they list -- -
With lights of amethyst.
O lonely watcher of the skies,
Do you hear the night wind and the sighs
The pale gates of sunrise?
Awake to hear the sweet harps play
To Love before him on his way,
Till night is overgone?
Whose way in heaven is aglow
At that hour when soft lights come and go,
And in the earth below.
All maidenly, disconsolate,
One who is singing by your gate.
And he is come to visit you.
When he at eventide is calling.
Whose song about my heart is falling?
'Tis I that am your visitant.
A merry air.
I read no more,
On the floor.
I have left my room,
Through the gloom.
A merry air,
(O sweet it is and fair it is!)
Because of sad austerities
(O soft I knock and soft entreat her!)
Austerities were all the sweeter
Among the apple-trees,
To run in companies.
The young leaves as they pass,
Her shadow on the grass;
Over the laughing land,
Her dress with dainty hand.
With springtide all adorning her?
To make it merrier?
By ways that know the light footfall?
With mien so virginal?
Gleam with a soft and golden fire -- -
Carry so brave attire?
The woods their rich apparel wear -- -
That is so young and fair.
For the winds of May!
He sings in the hollow:
Come follow, come follow,
All you that love.
That will not after,
That song and laughter
Do nothing move.
He sings the bolder;
In troop at his shoulder
The wild bees hum.
Dreams is over ---
As lover to lover,
Sweetheart, I come.
Bid adieu to girlish days,
Thee and woo thy girlish ways -- -
The bugles of the cherubim
Thy girlish bosom unto him
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Glory and stars beneath his feet -- -
With the comedian Capuchin?
In disregard of the divine,
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
And say I come,
And run upon the sea
My love and me.
I pray you go,
And sing at her window;
For Love is at his noon;
Soon, O soon.
The night-dew lies
A music of sighs:
My sister, my love,
White breast of the dove,
Like a veil on my head.
My fair one, my fair dove,
From love's deep slumber and from death,
Whose leaves the morn admonisheth.
Where softly-burning fires appear,
Of grey and golden gossamer.
The flowery bells of morn are stirred
Begin (innumerous!) to be heard.
And there, love, will we go
Where Love did sometime go.
Calling us away?
And there, love, will we stay.
I gave him pain,
Your hand again.
Can make amend -- -
Who was my friend.
Your lover's tale;
When friends him fail.
Friends be untrue
Their words come to.
Will softly move
In ways of love.
Her smooth round breast;
Shall have rest.
Prefer a lying clamour before you:
Can they dishonour you?
Their lives ascend as a continual sigh.
As they deny, deny.
I would we lay,
At noon of day.
Sweet to kiss,
Of thy hair.
At noon of day
Sweet love, away.
Found any soul to fellow his,
Holding to ancient nobleness,
My soul, dearest, is fain ---
And woo me to detain.
By love made tremulous,
Nowise may trouble us;
My hope and all my riches is,
And happy between kiss and kiss:
The wrens will divers treasures keep,
Ere that mine eyes had learned to weep.
Combing her long hair
With many a pretty air.
And on the dapplled grass,
Before the looking-glass.
Comb out your long hair,
Under a pretty air,
Staying and going hence,
And many a negligence.
Though thy heart presage thee woe,
Oread let thy laughter run,
Clouds that wrap the vales below
Lowliest attendants are;
Dear lady, a divining ear.
What sound hath made thy heart to fear?
That mood of thine
Who a mad tale bequeaths to us
And all for some strange name he read
In Purchas or in Holinshed.
Framed to defy the poison-dart,
To know the rapture of thy heart,
Dearest, my lips wax all too wise;
Our piping poets solemnize,
Sad songs about the end of love;
How love that passes is enough.
Of lovers that are dead, and how
Love is aweary now.
Dear eyes that gently me upbraid,
How is your beauty raimented!
Through the soft sigh of kiss to kiss,
The shadowy garden where love is.
When over us the wild winds blow -- -
Alas! why will you use me so?
When one at twilight shyly played
For Love at first is all afraid.
That had his sweet hours many a one;
The ways that we shall go upon.
When the bat flew from tree to tree
And sweet were the words she said to me.
Went murmuring -- - O, happily! -- -
Was the kiss she gave to me.
O come among the laden trees:
Of memories shall we depart.
Speak to your heart.
Where Love did so sweet music make
Forbearing for old friendship' sake,
Is knocking, knocking at the tree;
The wind is whistling merrily.
The vilanelle and roundelay!
We take sad leave at close of day.
O you unquiet heart!
Is heard in my heart.
Is heard at the door.
Is crying "Sleep no more."
And quiet to your heart -- -
O you unquiet heart!
Where I go.
To and fro.
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?
Poetry - http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/joyce01.html and http://www.readprint.com/work-888/James-Joyce
Photograph - http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/jj_guitar.html
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Created: Tuesday, July 5,
2005; Last Updated:
Sunday November 04, 2012
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