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Two Texts for Bloomsday, by William Walsh

Below are two pieces derived from James Joyce’s collected letters. The first one plays on a comment from Ezra Pound that Joyce relates to Frank Budgen. (The title is from a letter Joyce wrote to his patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver.)

 

Pound says the most outrageously amusing things sometimes.

From Selected Letters of James Joyce (Ed. Richard Ellmann, 1957)

 

Pound writes disapproving,
protesting against the close

and against obsession,
wanting to know whether

Bloom could not be relegated
to the background.

(p 238, from a letter to Frank Budgen)

 

This second piece is from another letter to Budgen. Joyce is explaining the Oxen of the Sun episode from Ulysses. It’s interesting that the quotes Joyce makes from Ulysses in the first five lines are not exactly as published in the book.

 

A Nineparted Episode

From Selected Letters of James Joyce (Ed. Richard Ellmann, 1957)

Before born the babe had bliss.
Within the womb he won worship.
Two days past her term.
The midwives hard put to it.
God send her quick issue.

Bloom is the spermatozoon.
The hospital the womb.
The nurse the ovum.
Stephen the embryo.

(p 251, from a letter to Frank Budgen)

 

William Walsh is the author of Forty-Four American Boys, Stephen King Stephen King, Unknown Arts, Ampersand, Mass., Pathologies, Questionstruck, and Without Wax. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Quarterly West, New York Tyrant, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He is the editor of RE:Telling.

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