From charlesreid1

Chapter 11 Sirens

Gilbert Schema

Scene: The Concert Room

Hour: 4 PM

Organ: Ear

Symbol: Barmaids

Art: Music

Technic: fuga per canonem(a)


If Chapter 8 Ulysses/Lestrygonians is like stopping for lunch during your path through Ulysses, then Chapter 11 is like an early afternoon happy hour.


From Wikipedia [1]:

In Greek mythology, the sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.


Odysseus was curious as to what the sirens sang to him, and so, on the advice of Circe, he had all of his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He ordered his men to leave him tied tightly to the mast, no matter how much he might beg. When he heard their beautiful song, he ordered the sailors to untie him but they bound him tighter. When they had passed out of earshot, Odysseus demonstrated with his frowns to be released. Some post-Homeric authors state that the sirens were fated to die if someone heard their singing and escaped them, and that after Odysseus passed by they therefore flung themselves into the water and perished.


1 Bronze by Gold

The chapter starts with a series of vignettes that are very similar to Chapter 10 Ulysses/Wandering Rocks. The narrative jumps around Dublin between different characters, and flashes back to some moments prior in the novel. What makes this opening so curious is the way that the scenes are only referenced through a few sounds or words.

The opening of Chapter 11, then, is something like a series of audio callbacks to (and foreshadowings of) different characters and moments in the novel.

A voiceless song sang from within

The song someone (Simon Dedalus) is playing on the piano in the background is Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye:

Lyrics: "The bright stars fade . . . the morn is breaking . . . The dewdrops pearl . . . And I from thee . . . to Flora's lips did hie . . . I could not leave thee . . . Sweetheart, goodbye!"

We discover later in the chapter that it is Simon playing the tune on the piano. There is a moment in Chapter 18 Ulysses/Penelope where Molly is thinking of Simon's "delicious glorious voice" and how he sings the title words of the song "Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye":

goodbye sweetheart sweetheart he always sang it not like Bartell Darcy sweet tart goodbye.

Boylan also makes an appearance at the Ormond when the opening lines of the song are being sung, and he departs when the closing lines are being sung. Thus, the adulterous Cassanova who is departing for a tryst is serenaded by a tender song about a lover having to part from his sweetheart.

2 Yes bronze from anear

3 Gaily Miss Douce polished a tumbler

4 Blazes Boylan's smart tan shoes

5 Bald Pat in the doorway

6 Miss Douce, engaging

7 Through the hush of air

8 Bloom ungyved his crisscrossed hands

9 He blotted quick on pad

10 Jog jig jogged

11 Bless me father

12 Far. Far. Far. Far.


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