You, Cochrane, what city sent for him?
Very good. Well?
There was a battle, sir.
Very good. Where?
The boy's blank face asked the blank window.
Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not
as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake's wings
excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry,
and time one livid final flame. What's left us then?
I forget the place, sir. 279 B. C.
Asculum, Stephen said, glancing at the name and date in the gorescarred
Yes, sir. And he said: Another victory like that and we are done
That phrase the world had remembered. A dull ease of the mind.
From a hill above a corpsestrewn plain a general speaking to his officers,
leaned upon his spear. Any general to any officers. They lend ear.
You, Armstrong, Stephen said. What was the end of Pyrrhus?
End of Pyrrhus, sir?
I know, sir. Ask me, sir, Comyn said.
Wait. You, Armstrong. Do you know anything about Pyrrhus?
A bag of figrolls lay snugly in Armstrong's satchel. He curled them
between his palms at whiles and swallowed them softly. Crumbs adhered to
the tissue of his lips. A sweetened boy's breath. Welloff people, proud
their eldest son was in the navy. Vico road, Dalkey.
Pyrrhus, sir? Pyrrhus, a pier.
All laughed. Mirthless high malicious laughter. Armstrong looked
round at his classmates, silly glee in profile. In a moment they will laugh
more loudly, aware of my lack of rule and of the fees their papas pay.
Tell me now, Stephen said, poking the boy's shoulder with the book,
is a pier.
A pier, sir, Armstrong said. A thing out in the water. A kind of a bridge.
Kingstown pier, sir.
Some laughed again: mirthless but with meaning. Two in the back
bench whispered. Yes. They knew: had never learned nor ever been
innocent. All. With envy he watched their faces: Edith, Ethel, Gerty,
Their likes: their breaths, too, sweetened with tea and jam, their bracelets
tittering in the struggle.
Kingstown pier, Stephen said. Yes, a disappointed bridge.
The words troubled their gaze.
How, sir? Comyn asked. A bridge is across a river.
For Haines's chapbook. No-one here to hear. Tonight deftly amid
wild drink and talk, to pierce the polished mail of his mind. What then?
jester at the court of his master, indulged and disesteemed, winning a
clement master's praise. Why had they chosen all that part? Not wholly
the smooth caress. For them too history was a tale like any other too often
heard, their land a pawnshop.
Had Pyrrhus not fallen by a beldam's hand in Argos or Julius Caesar
not been knifed to death. They are not to be thought away. Time has
branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite
possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing
they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave,
weaver of the wind.
Tell us a story, sir.
O, do, sir. A ghoststory.
Where do you begin in this? Stephen asked, opening another book.
Weep no more, Comyn said.
Go on then, Talbot.
And the story, sir?
After, Stephen said. Go on, Talbot.
A swarthy boy opened a book and propped it nimbly under the
breastwork of his satchel. He recited jerks of verse with odd glances at
Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more
For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor ....
It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible.
Aristotle's phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated
into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had
read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate
Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me:
under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind's
darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting
dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness.
The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility
sudden, vast, candescent: form of forms.
Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves,
Through the dear might ....
Turn over, Stephen said quietly. I don't see anything.
What, sir? Talbot asked simply, bending forward.
His hand turned the page over. He leaned back and went on again,
having just remembered. Of him that walked the waves. Here also over
these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer's heart and lips
on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute.
To Caesar what is Caesar's, to God what is God's. A long look from dark
eyes, a riddling sentence to be woven and woven on the church's looms.
Talbot slid his closed book into his satchel.
Have I heard all? Stephen asked.
Yes, sir. Hockey at ten, sir.
Half day, sir. Thursday.
Who can answer a riddle? Stephen asked.
They bundled their books away, pencils clacking, pages rustling.
Crowding together they strapped and buckled their satchels, all gabbling
A riddle, sir? Ask me, sir.
O, ask me, sir.
A hard one, sir.
This is the riddle, Stephen said:
What is that?
Again, sir. We didn't hear.
Their eyes grew bigger as the lines were repeated. After a silence
What is it, sir? We give it up.
Stephen, his throat itching, answered:
The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush.
He stood up and gave a shout of nervous laughter to which their cries
A stick struck the door and a voice in the corridor called:
They broke asunder, sidling out of their benches, leaping them.
Quickly they were gone and from the lumberroom came the rattle of sticks
and clamour of their boots and tongues.
Sargent who alone had lingered came forward slowly, showing an
open copybook. His thick hair and scraggy neck gave witness of
unreadiness and through his misty glasses weak eyes looked up pleading.
On his cheek, dull and bloodless, a soft stain of ink lay, dateshaped,
and damp as a snail's bed.
He held out his copybook. The word Sums was written on the
headline. Beneath were sloping figures and at the foot a crooked signature
with blind loops and a blot. Cyril Sargent: his name and seal.
Mr Deasy told me to write them out all again, he said, and show them
Stephen touched the edges of the book. Futility.
Do you understand how to do them now? he asked.
Numbers eleven to fifteen, Sargent answered. Mr Deasy said I was to
copy them off the board, sir.
Can you do them. yourself? Stephen asked.
Ugly and futile: lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail's
bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart.
But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a
squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from
her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? His mother's
prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in holy zeal bestrode. She was no
more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire, an odour of
rosewood and wetted ashes. She had saved him from being trampled
underfoot and had gone, scarcely having been. A poor soul gone to heaven:
and on a heath beneath winking stars a fox, red reek of rapine in his fur,
with merciless bright eyes scraped in the earth, listened, scraped up the
earth, listened, scraped and scraped.
Sitting at his side Stephen solved out the problem. He proves by
algebra that Shakespeare's ghost is Hamlet's grandfather. Sargent peered
askance through his slanted glasses. Hockeysticks rattled in the
lumberroom: the hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field.
Across the page the symbols moved in grave morrice, in the mummery
of their letters, wearing quaint caps of squares and cubes. Give hands,
traverse, bow to partner: so: imps of fancy of the Moors. Gone too from
the world, Averroes and Moses Maimonides, dark men in mien and
movement, flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world,
a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend.
Do you understand now? Can you work the second for yourself?
In long shaky strokes Sargent copied the data. Waiting always for a
word of help his hand moved faithfully the unsteady symbols, a faint hue
shame flickering behind his dull skin. Amor matris: subjective and
genitive. With her weak blood and wheysour milk she had fed him and hid
from sight of others his swaddlingbands.
Like him was I, these sloping shoulders, this gracelessness. My
childhood bends beside me. Too far for me to lay a hand there once or
lightly. Mine is far and his secret as our eyes. Secrets, silent, stony
sit in the
dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants,
willing to be dethroned.
The sum was done.
It is very simple, Stephen said as he stood up.
Yes, sir. Thanks, Sargent answered.
He dried the page with a sheet of thin blottingpaper and carried his
copybook back to his bench.
You had better get your stick and go out to the others, Stephen said
followed towards the door the boy's graceless form.
In the corridor his name was heard, called from the playfield.
Run on, Stephen said. Mr Deasy is calling you.
He stood in the porch and watched the laggard hurry towards the
scrappy field where sharp voices were in strife. They were sorted in teams
and Mr Deasy came away stepping over wisps of grass with gaitered feet.
When he had reached the schoolhouse voices again contending called to
him. He turned his angry white moustache.
What is it now? he cried continually without listening.
Cochrane and Halliday are on the same side, sir, Stephen said.
Will you wait in my study for a moment, Mr Deasy said, till I restore
And as he stepped fussily back across the field his old man's voice
What is the matter? What is it now?
Their sharp voices cried about him on all sides: their many forms
closed round him, the garish sunshine bleaching the honey of his illdyed
Stale smoky air hung in the study with the smell of drab abraded
leather of its chairs. As on the first day he bargained with me here. As
in the beginning, is now. On the sideboard the tray of Stuart coins, base
treasure of a bog: and ever shall be. And snug in their spooncase of purple
plush, faded, the twelve apostles having preached to all the gentiles:
A hasty step over the stone porch and in the corridor. Blowing out his
rare moustache Mr Deasy halted at the table.
First, our little financial settlement, he said.
He brought out of his coat a pocketbook bound by a leather thong. It
slapped open and he took from it two notes, one of joined halves, and laid
them carefully on the table.
Two, he said, strapping and stowing his pocketbook away.
And now his strongroom for the gold. Stephen's embarrassed hand
moved over the shells heaped in the cold stone mortar: whelks and money
cowries and leopard shells: and this, whorled as an emir's turban, and
the scallop of saint James. An old pilgrim's hoard, dead treasure, hollow
A sovereign fell, bright and new, on the soft pile of the tablecloth.
Three, Mr Deasy said, turning his little savingsbox about in his hand.
These are handy things to have. See. This is for sovereigns. This is for
shillings. Sixpences, halfcrowns. And here crowns. See.
He shot from it two crowns and two shillings.
Three twelve, he said. I think you'll find that's right.
Thank you, sir, Stephen said, gathering the money together with shy
haste and putting it all in a pocket of his trousers.
No thanks at all, Mr Deasy said. You have earned it.
Stephen's hand, free again, went back to the hollow shells. Symbols
too of beauty and of power. A lump in my pocket: symbols soiled by greed
Don't carry it like that, Mr Deasy said. You'll pull it out somewhere
lose it. You just buy one of these machines. You'll find them very handy.
Mine would be often empty, Stephen said.
The same room and hour, the same wisdom: and I the same. Three
times now. Three nooses round me here. Well? I can break them in this
instant if I will.
Because you don't save, Mr Deasy said, pointing his finger. You don't
know yet what money is. Money is power. When you have lived as long as
have. I know, I know. If youth but knew. But what does Shakespeare
Put but money in thy purse.
Iago, Stephen murmured.
He lifted his gaze from the idle shells to the old man's stare.
He knew what money was, Mr Deasy said. He made money. A poet, yes,
but an Englishman too. Do you know what is the pride of the English? Do
you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an
The seas' ruler. His seacold eyes looked on the empty bay: it seems
history is to blame: on me and on my words, unhating.
That on his empire, Stephen said, the sun never sets.
Ba! Mr Deasy cried. That's not English. A French Celt said that.
He tapped his savingsbox against his thumbnail.
I will tell you, he said solemnly, what is his proudest boast. I paid
Good man, good man.
I paid my way. I never borrowed a shilling in my life. Can you
feel that? I
owe nothing. Can you?
Mulligan, nine pounds, three pairs of socks, one pair brogues, ties.
Curran, ten guineas. McCann, one guinea. Fred Ryan, two shillings.
Temple, two lunches. Russell, one guinea, Cousins, ten shillings, Bob
Reynolds, half a guinea, Koehler, three guineas, Mrs MacKernan, five
weeks' board. The lump I have is useless.
For the moment, no, Stephen answered.
Mr Deasy laughed with rich delight, putting back his savingsbox.
I knew you couldn't, he said joyously. But one day you must feel it.
are a generous people but we must also be just.
I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.
Mr Deasy stared sternly for some moments over the mantelpiece at
the shapely bulk of a man in tartan filibegs: Albert Edward, prince of
You think me an old fogey and an old tory, his thoughtful voice said.
saw three generations since O'Connell's time. I remember the famine in
Do you know that the orange lodges agitated for repeal of the union twenty
years before O'Connell did or before the prelates of your communion
denounced him as a demagogue? You fenians forget some things.
Glorious, pious and immortal memory. The lodge of Diamond in
Armagh the splendid behung with corpses of papishes. Hoarse, masked and
armed, the planters' covenant. The black north and true blue bible.
Croppies lie down.
Stephen sketched a brief gesture.
I have rebel blood in me too, Mr Deasy said. On the spindle side. But
am descended from sir John Blackwood who voted for the union. We are all
Irish, all kings' sons.
Alas, Stephen said.
Per vias rectas, Mr Deasy said firmly, was his motto. He voted
for it and
put on his topboots to ride to Dublin from the Ards of Down to do so.
A gruff squire on horseback with shiny topboots. Soft day, sir John!
Soft day, your honour! .... Day! .... Day! .... Two topboots jog dangling
to Dublin. Lal the ral the ra. Lal the ral the raddy.
That reminds me, Mr Deasy said. You can do me a favour, Mr Dedalus,
with some of your literary friends. I have a letter here for the press.
down a moment. I have just to copy the end.
He went to the desk near the window, pulled in his chair twice and
read off some words from the sheet on the drum of his typewriter.
Sit down. Excuse me, he said over his shoulder, the dictates of common
sense. Just a moment.
He peered from under his shaggy brows at the manuscript by his
elbow and, muttering, began to prod the stiff buttons of the keyboard
slowly, sometimes blowing as he screwed up the drum to erase an error.
Stephen seated himself noiselessly before the princely presence.
Framed around the walls images of vanished horses stood in homage, their
meek heads poised in air: lord Hastings' Repulse, the duke of
Westminster's Shotover, the duke of Beaufort's Ceylon, prix de
1866. Elfin riders sat them, watchful of a sign. He saw their speeds, backing
king's colours, and shouted with the shouts of vanished crowds.
Full stop, Mr Deasy bade his keys. But prompt ventilation of this
Where Cranly led me to get rich quick, hunting his winners among
the mudsplashed brakes, amid the bawls of bookies on their pitches and
reek of the canteen, over the motley slush. Fair Rebel! Fair Rebel!
money the favourite: ten to one the field. Dicers and thimbleriggers we
hurried by after the hoofs, the vying caps and jackets and past the
meatfaced woman, a butcher's dame, nuzzling thirstily her clove of orange.
Shouts rang shrill from the boys' playfield and a whirring whistle.
Again: a goal. I am among them, among their battling bodies in a
medley, the joust of life. You mean that knockkneed mother's darling who
seems to be slightly crawsick? Jousts. Time shocked rebounds, shock by
shock. Jousts, slush and uproar of battles, the frozen deathspew of the
a shout of spearspikes baited with men's bloodied guts.
Now then, Mr Deasy said, rising.
He came to the table, pinning together his sheets. Stephen stood up.
I have put the matter into a nutshell, Mr Deasy said. It's about the
and mouth disease. Just look through it. There can be no two opinions on
May I trespass on your valuable space. That doctrine of laissez faire
which so often in our history. Our cattle trade. The way of all our
industries. Liverpool ring which jockeyed the Galway harbour scheme.
European conflagration. Grain supplies through the narrow waters of the
channel. The pluterperfect imperturbability of the department of
agriculture. Pardoned a classical allusion. Cassandra. By a woman who
was no better than she should be. To come to the point at issue.
I don't mince words, do I? Mr Deasy asked as Stephen read on.
Foot and mouth disease. Known as Koch's preparation. Serum and
virus. Percentage of salted horses. Rinderpest. Emperor's horses at
Mürzsteg, lower Austria. Veterinary surgeons. Mr Henry Blackwood Price.
Courteous offer a fair trial. Dictates of common sense. Allimportant
question. In every sense of the word take the bull by the horns. Thanking
you for the hospitality of your columns.
I want that to be printed and read, Mr Deasy said. You will see at the
outbreak they will put an embargo on Irish cattle. And it can be cured.
cured. My cousin, Blackwood Price, writes to me it is regularly treated
cured in Austria by cattledoctors there. They offer to come over here.
trying to work up influence with the department. Now I'm going to try
publicity. I am surrounded by difficulties, by .... intrigues by .... backstairs
influence by ....
He raised his forefinger and beat the air oldly before his voice spoke.
Mark my words, Mr Dedalus, he said. England is in the hands of the
jews. In all the highest places: her finance, her press. And they are the
of a nation's decay. Wherever they gather they eat up the nation's vital
strength. I have seen it coming these years. As sure as we are standing
the jew merchants are already at their work of destruction. Old England
He stepped swiftly off, his eyes coming to blue life as they passed a
broad sunbeam. He faced about and back again.
Dying, he said again, if not dead by now.
His eyes open wide in vision stared sternly across the sunbeam in
which he halted.
A merchant, Stephen said, is one who buys cheap and sells dear, jew
gentile, is he not?
They sinned against the light, Mr Deasy said gravely. And you can see
darkness in their eyes. And that is why they are wanderers on the earth
On the steps of the Paris stock exchange the goldskinned men quoting
prices on their gemmed fingers. Gabble of geese. They swarmed loud,
uncouth about the temple, their heads thickplotting under maladroit silk
hats. Not theirs: these clothes, this speech, these gestures. Their full
eyes belied the words, the gestures eager and unoffending, but knew the
rancours massed about them and knew their zeal was vain. Vain patience
heap and hoard. Time surely would scatter all. A hoard heaped by the
roadside: plundered and passing on. Their eyes knew their years of
wandering and, patient, knew the dishonours of their flesh.
Who has not? Stephen said.
What do you mean? Mr Deasy asked.
He came forward a pace and stood by the table. His underjaw fell
sideways open uncertainly. Is this old wisdom? He waits to hear from me.
History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal.
What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?
The ways of the Creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All human
history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
What? Mr Deasy asked.
A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.
Mr Deasy looked down and held for awhile the wings of his nose
tweaked between his fingers. Looking up again he set them free.
I am happier than you are, he said. We have committed many errors
many sins. A woman brought sin into the world. For a woman who was no
better than she should be, Helen, the runaway wife of Menelaus, ten years
the Greeks made war on Troy. A faithless wife first brought the strangers
our shore here, MacMurrough's wife and her leman, O'Rourke, prince of
Breffni. A woman too brought Parnell low. Many errors, many failures but
not the one sin. I am a struggler now at the end of my days. But I will
for the right till the end.
Stephen raised the sheets in his hand.
Well, sir, he began .....
I foresee, Mr Deasy said, that you will not remain here very long at
work. You were not born to be a teacher, I think. Perhaps I am wrong.
A learner rather, Stephen said.
And here what will you learn more?
Mr Deasy shook his head.
Who knows? he said. To learn one must be humble. But life is the great
Stephen rustled the sheets again.
As regards these, he began .....
Yes, Mr Deasy said. You have two copies there. If you can have them
published at once.
Telegraph. Irish Homestead.
I will try, Stephen said, and let you know tomorrow. I know two editors
That will do, Mr Deasy said briskly. I wrote last night to Mr Field,
There is a meeting of the cattletraders' association today at the City
hotel. I asked him to lay my letter before the meeting. You see if you
it into your two papers. What are they?
The Evening Telegraph .....
That will do, Mr Deasy said. There is no time to lose. Now I have to
answer that letter from my cousin.
Good morning, sir, Stephen said, putting the sheets in his pocket. Thank
Not at all, Mr Deasy said as he searched the papers on his desk. I like
break a lance with you, old as I am.
Good morning, sir, Stephen said again, bowing to his bent back.
He went out by the open porch and down the gravel path under the
trees, hearing the cries of voices and crack of sticks from the playfield.
lions couchant on the pillars as he passed out through the gate: toothless
terrors. Still I will help him in his fight. Mulligan will dub me a new
the bullockbefriending bard.
Running after me. No more letters, I hope.
Just one moment.
Yes, sir, Stephen said, turning back at the gate.
Mr Deasy halted, breathing hard and swallowing his breath.
I just wanted to say, he said. Ireland, they say, has the honour of
the only country which never persecuted the jews. Do you know that? No.
And do you know why?
He frowned sternly on the bright air.
Why, sir? Stephen asked, beginning to smile.
Because she never let them in, Mr Deasy said solemnly.
A coughball of laughter leaped from his throat dragging after it a
rattling chain of phlegm. He turned back quickly, coughing, laughing, his
lifted arms waving to the air.
She never let them in, he cried again through his laughter as he stamped
on gaitered feet over the gravel of the path. That's why.
On his wise shoulders through the checkerwork of leaves the sun
flung spangles, dancing coins.