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June 16, 2008


Today is 104 years from the original Bloomsday, the day on which Joyce's Ulysses occurs. In celebration, I've decided to quote the book here. Out of nearly 800 pages, one has many, many choices, but I think I have the one right here.

In the chapter that takes place at the National Library in Dublin, where the characters are discussing or debating Shakespeare, Buck Mulligan offers this spoof of a poem by Yeats:

I hardly hear the purlieu cry
Or a Tommy talk as I pass one by
Before my thoughts begin to run
On F. M'Curdy Atkinson,
The same that had the wooden leg
And that filibustering filibeg
That never dared to slake his drouth,
Magee that had the chinless mouth.
Being afraid to marry on earth
They masturbated for all they were worth.
If you think that I suddenly became immature in my middle age, let me assure you it isn't so. When I was in college, I took a couple of years of music theory courses. One year, for our final exam project, I set Buck Mulligan's poem above to music. When the professor invited us to his house the following week, he told us he wanted us to perform our pieces. So I had the pleasure of singing my song with these lyrics for the class. And just to make it more pungent, the song called for a repeat of the last couplet for emphasis.