I smell the trees.Lilac blossoms: like magic powder drifting. Galactic lilac hue. I, travelling across a constellation of time and space, timeworn, spaceworn, now journeying back, at home, before, in the happy times, though timeless all the same, embraced, ‘round warm voices, popping voices peopled there, accounted for, in a garden.
I was young and well-groomed in a little black jacket, sitting on a three-legged stool. It was summertime and warm, during a partySee U, 13. 308 for Bloom’s account. in the neighborhood, and what a jolly day it was. The lilac was fragrant on its boughs, the garden hemmed in by high dark hedges, and the sun as high as our spirits. My spirits, of course, were higher then too. The lilac intoxicated me, and I could hear the soft piano playing through the kitchen door, frolicsome sounds of the three Dillon childrenSee U, 13. 309 for a list. running, and who was at the low bench playing but Mother. I straightened my coat–for I was a curio. Mother had brought me to the party as her prize to show. I liked to watch her play.
Mother in her plain blue dress, head thrown back, alive. Father was somewhere on the lawn, administering to friends. Oh she plays so nicely, a sad and pretty song, with sad words like grave and
ere my strength shall failFrom the song at Portrait, I. 12.
and so much prettierPortrait, 1. 15. than Father could ever play. Poor father. He doesn’t know we know he’s a boor when he gets behind the keys. But his voice is a gift too, a soaring warbling tender tenorU, 11. 225-6.. But with mother at the piano, I can hear her through the threshold, singing
Now the wild rose blossomsPortrait, ibid., over the wild green grass.
Tickling the ivories. What a funny word. Tickle, fickle, tambour, torture. A little too much laughter and it all turns sour.
It was a warm windy day in June, at Mat’s Dillon’s houseSee Hades for Bloom’s memory at U, 4. 94, e.g., or U, 17. 556 for Bloom and Stephen’s meeting there. Molly will also remember Stephen at U, 18. 637. and I was on a little chair waiting for the other guests to arrive, sitting straight and proper in my starched Lord Fauntleroy suitU, 18. 637.. There were chairs arranged curiously on the lawn, and a short bowling lane, with a pile of black balls stacked in a pyramid. Dante was teaching me about the pyramids at home, about the graves and tombs buried deep in the stony heart of them, and the dusky barbarians laying on their drowsy rafts, all day in the sun, and had not a thought of God our Father. Was their heaven a pyramid too? Dante was quite smart: sometimes I could ask her questions, and I thought she must have met God sometime, if only for a moment, and asked Him about all his favorite things. Pyramids were not one of those. But graves: God swallowed them up. Good old nobodaddyUlysses, 14. 24.
I watched the neighbors pass through the house and out into the garden. Stampede! None of these people had names to me. Like wildebeest or ghosts, their anonymity is strong with them. I substituted my own names, and my own myths, in the void where their identities would be. A man who would be bowling on the lawn later, enflamed by a competitiveness that knew no end, shaking his long brown hair, I named SamsonIsrael’s last judge; Judges 13-16.. Really he was a big tall man with a mousy beard named MentonSee, e.g., U, 6. 94-5 for Bloom’s memory of lawn bowling, the city commissioner’s assistant.
Mother must have finished playing, for the music ceased. She walked out to the patio where I sat thinking of tombs and why and where, and smelling the sweet lilac. A young woman in a yellow laceU, 11. 226. dress strode into the garden at her ease, curtsying excessively, beside a military man with a face like cut glass.
Mother welsh-combed my hair. I turned to her, thinking of myths.
–Do you know what nymphsStephen still dreams of nymphs at U, 15. 446. are?
–My boy, Not only do I know, I am one. I know them all in the local chapter.
She was saying:
A soft wave of memory floated over the lilac and the lemon. Had to be in my twenties then. Younger man’s dreams, drive. Oversexed. Sadness in all memory. Why? Death approaching: can’t be helped. Same as stopping the Earth around the Sun, really. In youth, all doors are open. Memory is the story of how we shut those doors. Leaves just the path we took. Same destination, in the end, all. Some paths shorter than others. Met Molly that daySee U, 13.308 for Bloom’s account., in yellow lace before purple flowers. Caught my eye. Shut door. There under the tree, with Dillon’s oldest. Now Milly reaching that age. Soon my age. Then you will scuttle through that one last door, no more to Bloom, my BloomaloomtombroomA play on U. 5.15..Remember: MentonMore memories from the party where Bloom met Molly, mentioned above. The later “bowls” and “jack” are a reference to the game of lawn bowling, which occurred there., ridiculous man. Talked and talked, never said a word. Always on about women. Tossing the bowls towards the jack with aplomb. Thought he owned the place. Menton. Mementon. What’s he when he’s at home? Memento?, he said, frowning. It’s Latin: from the LatinThis parodies the scene in U. 4.340-42, where Bloom glosses “metempsychosis” for Molly. Though he did not know Latin, the many English cognates formed from the Latin would have made the connection one likely known to Bloom.. Memento: a thing to remember one by. Memento Menton, a Menton who never forgets to remember. Lemony Menton: a refreshing Menton who pays for his soapBloom agrees to pay for a bar of lemon soap upon his return to the apothecary at U. 5.514-15.
He had entered the side door. Through the garden. Menton neatly avoided. But there: the smell of lilac. Those trees, all around. Beautiful day, like this, it was. Went inside. Just for a moment. Niceties. Say my how-do-you-toos to the two tooralooms tooraloomingAgain, U. 5.15. He pulled his notsohighgrade haU. 5.24 down from his head. Neither mourning nor quite so able to afford, then. Inhaled the scent of: lilac, lemon, hair oil, grass. Perfume. Molly smelled like those flowers. But something more. Exotic. SpanishMolly’s eyes are described as Spanish at U.C. 5.3818.
Henry Flower EsqBloom’s pen name for use with his would-be mistress, U. 5.63.
He was not him, then. Nor Molly her. Wants to know my wife’s perfumeU. 5.258. Relive this to her. Fire her up a bit. Too far this time, too.Bloom worries that he will not have received a response to his letter, because he went “too far last time.” U. 5.59 If it closes a door, so be it. Wasn’t meant to be.
He crested memory’s wave and found himself again subsumed, awash in the purple ocean.
Then I was what I thought, cogitavi ergo fuiLatin: I thought, therefore I was. An inversion of Descarte’s famous proposition. This change in tense would likely not have been known or even recognizable to Bloom, making the reference here seem the input of a narrator or arranger., and what I thought was. A comfortable home, Dilon’s. Manicured. A kind of musk about the place. Masculine trappings. Slow takeover of the abode. All those daughters but no wife. Her poor soul gone to live on another planetIn his explanation of metempsychosis to Molly, Bloom states that the Greeks believed the soul may have lived, for example, on another planet previously. U. 4.364., Lilliput, for some thousand years. Come back a pair of ragged clawsA play on Prufrock, lines 73-4. “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”, scuttling along Sandymount. For which there will be time. But was it really gone? Energy, they say, is transferred. MetempsychosisThe discussion of metempsychosis runs from U. 4.333-377. If the soul could be changed into a tree or an animal, could Mat’s wife not be that cushion, there? Never bring a nymphA possible reference to the nymphs of 4.369, but also a play on U. 8.536, the vegetarian fear of a cow’s eyes following the flesh-eater for eternity. home, for fear the cushion would see, smother him.
THOSE GIRLS, THOSE GIRLS,
THOSE LOVELY SEASIDE GIRLS.U. 4.441-43,
Perhaps why Mat was always of such a good heartBloom remembers Dillon as having a “heart of gold” at U.C. 6.5335. Wife beyond suffering, besides the occasional dusting off. Mended stitch. A comfort to him in his old age. Your mother needs a good shaking upA reference to Grandfather Smallweed, of Dickens’ Bleak House, who is always demanding that he be “shaken up” from his slouched position., girls. Mind the cat doesn’t get at her. Gets too shabby, just reupholster. Fabric of the soul, available in six fashionable colors! Without it? Incomplete. With it, an abode of bliss.A reference to an ad for Plumtree’s Potted Meats that Bloom finds particularly distasteful at U. 5.144-147. Did they do the cooking?
In his mind, the faint tang of urineU. 4.4-5. mingled with the noble rot of cold fowlServed at Mat Dillon’s parties. UC. 5.5334.. Lilac became the smell of burnBloom burns a beef kidney at U. 4.380.. This was washed away in memory. Bloom returned. What if Mat’s wife had come back as that pigeon now piling on a plate?
Floey, the oldest, thereSee UC. 13.18018 for a list of Dillon’s daughters.. Yes, the cooking. Oddly named. Good ad, that: A periodical for women. If you can’t count on us, you’re in trouble! Now-Bloom thought of Milly; then-Bloom nodded at Floey. Both returned flowingly to the patio. Awash in purple.
Simon’s wife, there, whispering conspiratorially with babe Stephen in a language older than words.
There’s one in particular that the nymphs and
I like to tell, about a nymph who was as pretty
as the moon. In fact, she was the moon. she
was as white and her skin as brilliant as the
moon. And there was a boy she loved very
much, who used to sleep in an old cave on an
island like ours. This nymph used to rise
every night and watch the boy in the cave.
She wanted desperately to meet him, but since
she only saw at night, she could only watch
him sleep. This nymph had to contrive a plan
to meet this boy. So she went to the king and
asked how she could. The king was a stupid
old man, but he led her to the cave. The
nymph was very excited. But when she and
the king arrived, she was surprised to see a
dark shape moving at the door to the cave,
and cast a terrible spell on the shape in haste.
But you must see by now, my darling
Stephen, it was the boy she cursed. The curse
did not kill him, no, but it put him in an
eternal sleep. So when the nymph returned to
the sky, she got to spend the rest of her life
watching him sleep, there, at the door of his
–I don’t think she was a very happy nymph
then, Mother, for she never got to hold him,
or touch him, or anything. And it was all the
same in the end
–You see, you’re not quite right, Stephen. For
the nymph won out in the end because eternal
sleep preserves the body. And so she knew
that there was no need to fear anymore
because she could be with him, watching over
from the clouds above, forever and ever
and of a motherly love, she told him: a
pretty thing, that. But now, though not then,
she, his mother, has gone to that other world,
the world of moonlight and nymphs.
very loved he was then, though,
an image boyhood happiness, early to bed and
rise. But now doors have closed: from that
cave they say only one has risen,
since man first walked and learned to
watch the changing stars and
plan his home’s path through the stars.
and, so rising, commanded Lazarus, too, a
stupid thing, really. Ruins the commodity.
The boy watched his mother enraptured
and seemed to hang on her every word.
a beautiful thing, that story of the
cave, though sad now with his mother in
haste departed. Power over death a
darling to religion, then and now. Death a
curse that all men fear: religion like
an amulet against it. Clever, like the LatinUC. 5.3645
to confuse. Ensure. We alone have the keys to
life. Take of this his body. Drink of this
his blood. A fine wine aged in a darkened
cave.The “cave, cave” formed by this stereoscope is part of the inscription of Bosch’s “Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things.” “Cave, cave Deus videt” is Latin for “Beware, beware: God sees.”
nymph and nymph, arm-in-armMolly and Floey sat arm-in-arm at Dillon’s party, UC. 6.5338, distracted
the all of it was in the
end the same.
For Paddy now lied in rest
eternal and Bloom
knew that after this memory, if it was memory
anymore, and after the bath, respite would be
over, from the clouds above,
ever and forever.
Mother smiled at me, then reclined in the white chair. Cough, she coughed. It was as if a cloud had passed and darkened the garden cough. The string quartet had been interrupted cough. There were ants running across the table in a line: one two three four. I heard that cough and thought: one in a series. In like a lamb, out like a lion.
A solitary man had walked in late through the garden gate and shut the clasp behind him. Inauspicious entrance. A late visitor in my life already. He stepped around the perimeter, like a catburglar.
Where was Mrs. Dillon?