Where was Mrs. Dillon, again? With mother beside me I wondered. Did Floey, did little Atty, did all the children running around the lawn, as if all the world were there circus, did they wonder too?Mother and I were holding each other tightly, as if I desired even then to petrify my love.
— On your feet Stephen, up, come on let’s play.
—I’m tired now Mother why now and what game.
—Look out there Stephen, the neighbors are dancing.
—Hold me close Mother I don’t want to go yet.
—Stand by my side and I’ll never be far.
—I trust you, besides, what else can we do?
Dancing shadows wheeled across the green grass garden. And all a wild buzzing fracas. There were half a dozen chairs on the lawn around which the men circledU, 11. 226. They swirled slowly, dancing, clapping, pouncing, tripping over each other, rabid with laughter, gigantic figures to me, intoxicated by the fatal farrago of sun, sweet wine, and lilac. I heard curses and expletives between men jousting with words. With words? You can sharpen them.
–Look! Mother said. Do you know that man over there, wearing all the pretty war medals? The green one means he commanded forty men. And how tall he is!
Green medals on a white jacket means he is a fellow to shield your eyes from. He wears the hero’s lionskin. Father wore a coat with broken buttons and repaired his own suspenders. The grey-haired Major in summer uniform was leaning against a retaining wall, gnomic and stone-faced, under shade cast by another lilac shrub. He was sniffing the air pugnaciously. A bulldog snorts like that.
The lilacs had by now exhausted their morning fragrance. All that remained to smell, beyond the musk of the dancing bodies, was a sour, lemony, urinous odor. Likewise, the Major seemed a late figure, after his prime, once a hale herculean soldier now reduced to a shadow, frozen in time.
–That’s the Major Brian Tweedy, back from Gibraltar. A war hero, Stephen, and a true Irishman.
But the Major was removed from the festivities, observing severely the dancing form of a woman wearing yellow lace, the woman with whom he had arrived. He watched attentively. He nursed a tumbler of some bubbling concoctionU, 13. 309 for Bloom’s specific memory of Major Tweedy’s drinking habits. He swirled it rapidly, distracted. Then, as if to tie a bow on the image he himself portrayed, he drew up the glass in one motion and emptied it.
—He’s not having any fun, Mother. He looks very angry.
—Should we go cheer him up then? Shall we go say hello to the Major? asked Mother. I’m certain he would be proud to meet a boy as smart as you, inducted to ClongowesA Jesuit preparatory school in County Klare; the site of Stephen’s artistic maturity and most of Portrait. already. It’s a rare pleasure to meet a man like him.
—I don’t think he wants to say hello to us.
—Let’s make an introduction at least. You don’t want to grow up without knowing a hero, do you, Stephen, my little Byron?Molly would have appreciated this. Ulysses, 18. 637.
Father. Never as great. I despised his mediocrity. Just a man. Rank, singing flesh. No spirit. An empty bowl. The musical spheresSee, e.g. Dante’s Paradiso passim for the common medieval concept of the musical spheres which human spirits attuned themselves to. did not always resonate. Dumb father drinking with dumb newsmen.
Shame! Torture! No heroes! I beat my fists and cried,
— No, no, no, I don’t want to meet the Major!
Such a childish fit for a boy.
I should have apologized at once. Instead, I wondered why we call it throwing a fit. Because like a missile, a plate, a dart. Or tantrum, what that word meant, and why. Dante’s latin? Nice language for any catholic to use!Portrait, 1. 866.
–If that’s the way it has to be, that’s fine Stephen. Above all, we don’t want to make a scene now do we. Besides, we can introduce ourselves later.
Yellow-skinned, fleshy, and spotted with shade I imagined I saw the dancing people as bees. That’s the way to feel better: tell a story. Multiplied, engorged, suspended between flower petals, the myth of the drunken bees.
Mr. Bloom watched casually a squirrel scamper over the back of Mat’s fence. Beady-eyed, alert. Moved so quick, barely see it: yet always stopping, squirrely. Always afraid. Probably seeking out dropped crumbs, too. No time for party games, ever. Sometimes they chase one another, though. Chatter from the tree limbs. Maybe a kind of game. Wonder what they make of us. Bigger to him than I to pussens. Height of a tower, maybeBloom ponders how his cat perceives him at U. 4.39.. He observed the squirrel’s gray, sleek fur speckled with brown, and its scarf-like tail, twitching. Tall ears, scanning to and fro for errant cats. Never takes a bath, either. Probably cleaner than most people. Prim and proper as though he’s been to the barber. An American cousin, unwanted. Gray came from America and waged war on the native Red. Notice in the paperThe article is likely a literary license, though American Gray Squirrels are considered a highly invasive species (“Gray Squirrel”).. Don’t feed them. Destructive to nature. Revenge for when the gay English sailed to America and waged war on the Red there. Black squirrel unwelcome on either continent. How do they go across the ocean, I wonder. Squirrel passenger ships. Manifests, Squirrel Captain. Chipmunk stowaways made to walk the plank. All acorns to be declared at port. Subject to inspection and confiscation under the authority of her Royal Highness, Queen Nutty. Take on railroad work, send money home. Bring your children here to live in a nice Irish pine.
Reds driven out, seek refuge in America. He envisioned long lines spiraling the great room at Ellis Island. The shame as tired physicians, last in their class, lifted lips and eyelids, inspecting, horselike. Squirrel-like. The wet hacks of consumption and the consuming sores of Godknowswhat. Packed together like a tin of sardines. Tighter. Beady-eyed man looks at you, asks your name. Rudolph Flufftail ViragThe name of Bloom’s father, which he changed to Bloom UC. 17.28334-28335.. Virag? he grunts. Do you a favor, friend. Scribbles Rudy Bloom. Next! Next struggles to speak, nut tucked up in his cheek. All the wealth he has in the world.
What am I on about squirrels? Strangest things we remember.
Probably on ships, like rats. Different visas, though. Paper was right. See them more these days.
Should I show Simon’s boy? Simplest thing. Bend over, point it out. A rare treat, visit to the zoo. Might upset him, though. Wild thing. Unpredictable. Might worry that squirrel would scoop him up, take him to Squirrelland. And see no more the brown mice bobFrom Yeats’, “The Stolen Child.”, round and round the oatmeal chest. Might excite him, too. Chase after. Ruin that ridiculous suitUC. 18.32057.. Mother would be angry. Face red. Like to see the blush rise up her throat. Mother’s little prince, strutting the stage. Better not. If he were older: just a bit. Lose that whatever that makes the world so mercurial when they’re young.
Why do we say mercurial? Because of mercury. Moves quickly. Funny how we agree on that, though. Say “mercurial,” mean “quick.” Do they use it in America? Say mercurial to that gray squirrel, might not know it. Then explain: well, it means quick. But also Mercury is a planet. And Mercury is a god from antiquity. And it is a metal that often is not a solid but a fluid. Glass pipettes of thermometers. Squirrel would think you off your nut. Ha! Must write that down. Big woodcut of a squirrel, text: “Don’t lose your nut! Take Memento Menton’s Fish Oil today!” Why fish and a squirrel, though? Maybe the fish is addressed by the squirrel? Squirrel fisherman, with rod? No. Still, something to itBloom has similar issues with his “born with a silver knife” speech at UC. 8.8021-23..
Wait! Does it mean quick or fluid? Glass pipettes of thermometers. Maybe fluid. Must check when I get home. Mercurial memento mori.
Mr. Bloom paused in his pausing to consider the vast capabilities of the human mind, if only it were actively able to be organized, instead of, squirrel-like, being at the whim of random fancies of squirrels. He considered that it might be capable of very much indeed, without such minutiae. A nagging sense of needing to be somewhere, BleibtreustrasseU. 4.199., nagged now-Bloom, though little true time had passed as then-Bloom languished pleasurably in his Blooming memory. He allowed the wave of lilac to buoy him up, its warmth forcing his arms up, wrapping ocean-like over his chest. A squirrel in fashionably colored bloomers performed a lazy backstroke by his side, tall ears poking neatly from his bathing cap.
The boy was watching Molly’s father now. Enchanted by the uniform. Dreams of going to war. For countrymen that he never loved against enemies he did not hate. Boys gravitate toward military matters. Mechanically minded. Oil-blacked barrel of the gun. Press of the cap onto the shell. Simple mechanism at once pierces and sparks. Throws a wrench in the machine of life. Opening valves of the heart. Like a steamwork. One metal ball to stop it all. Women like the uniform. Crisp, clean. Shows discipline. Will keep an orderly house. Children become a small military unit. Yes, sir. Emptied the bin, sir. Very good Lieutenant Kinder. Now you must route that division of dustbunnies before they cut us off at the flank. You, Ensign Kinderchen, see what the civil service is about in the kitchen. Salute. About face.
Molly shows different, of course. Not a military bone in her body. Lounging about, eating toast. Framed below the picture of a nymph. Three and sixThe price Bloom played for the frame of the nymph picture hanging in his bedroom. U. 4.371.. Bloom watching the boy watch Major Tweedy watching Marion Tweedy.
woman in yellow amid the musical chairs.
Flip of hip and a hint of pink slip. I saw her as
something mythological, like a bee-nymph.
And like the nymph, whom I always imagined
as having a kind of sweet music
accompanying her at all moments, the lady
before me seemed to be accompanied by her
own personal score. Each leap and step she
took seemed like a musical note dancing
across a ledgerbook staff, black lines leading
her forward without fencing her in, a staff
comprised of the straight dark legs of all the
other dancers.Like the vision of the Major, I was
engrossed to simply watch her. But unlike the
major, who commanded me by his very
nature (what this was I could never tell) to
imagine him as a statue, the dancer in the
yellow dress demanded expression in music.
Music and time. Not one without the other.U, 3. 31.
Yet I never thought she saw me in
the least. Perhaps once, when my back was
turned to Mother. Otherwise, I stared at her to
no end, like a hungry man a market. Mother saw me agape and did me a
great injustice by inscribing in my memory
the wavelike undulating name of that strange
woman. Would I have been different if I
hadn’t known? What alternate futureU, 2. 21.
could I, would I, have been thrown into if
that possibility had closed just then?–You really shouldn’t get in the habit
of staring like that, she said.
I looked at mother, then back to the dancer.
Then back again. They were both so similar,
one far one near, but like mirrors they
communicated by some silent speech.
chairs. Yellow and black lace, dressed
as a bumble bee dresses. Flighty, laughing
bee-nymph. Spanish-eyed. Full bub I
imagined. Alluring. Perfume of lilac and
music, commanding us to rise, sit. An exotic
lady makes the game harder. Concentrate on
her, instead of the music. Flip of the hip—
she saw that I saw? Didn’t mind if so, kept
dancing around the chairs, the tune
leading us to the inevitable. Moses, raising his
staff and commanding those chosen. Sit.
the Pharaoh declined. Cast out with the other
dancers.was just the two of us left. Fate. When
the notes stopped she swept down into the
very seat I was about to occupy. Hard
to stop myself from sitting atop her.
the laughter pealed off in waves. A gentle
music. Why did she thank me?UC. 11.13443.
other guests saw entirely. Saw me
in pleasure kiss her shoulderUC. 13.18000.. It
was neither planned, expected. Exhilarating
to touch my lips to her lilac scented skin. A
market for that salty joy, if you finda way to bottle it. Impossible. Needs my
memory to make it complete. Others find it
strange. Don’t have the experience of it
I did. And if I didn’t? What
alternate future might be
if what I now remember had not been
then? Mechanical opening, closing. A nun’shabit for Molly? That Bannon that Milly
said. No chance for him to shoulder-kiss a
dancer. Wonder, did I live before? Was it
similar to my life now?
they say some remember. Informed by what
speech of silence?
A lovely reflection there.
–But if you’re so interested in that young woman there, Stephen–that’s the Major’s daughter. That’s Molly Tweedy.