Friday, July 3, 2009

"Christfox in leather trews" (Fuller, Joyce, King)

And yet more fun recasting paragraphs of James Joyce's Ulysses as rock song lyrics.

"Christfox in leather trews"

Christfox in leather trews,
hiding, a runaway
in blighted treeforks
from hue and cry.

Knowing no vixen,
walking lonely in the chase.
Women he won to him,
tender people,

a whore of Babylon,
ladies of justices,
bully tapsters' wives.
Fox and geese.

And in New Place
a slack dishonoured body
that once was comely,
once as sweet,

as fresh as cinnamon,
now her leaves falling,
all, bare, frighted
of the narrow grave

and unforgiven.

Ulysses Annotated unpacks this sparkling enigmatic language, describing in detail how it "conjoins the careers of Shakespeare and George Fox" (1624-1691), a founder of the Quakers. It also points out echoes from an Irish folk song, "Fair Maiden's Beauty Will Soon Pass Away," which we will want to look at as we compose the song.

A lot of these lines from Ulysses look like Guided by Voices lyrics, but this one is puzzling and evocative in a different way. Especially with the first line, which cries out to be the song title, I think of the Vancouver band Frog Eyes.


Image of Shakespeare's home New Place from The Folger Shakespeare Library, which also has the manuscript of his title to this house.

More in this series

"All future plunges to the past" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"She was humming" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Silly billies:" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Happy Happy" (Fuller, Joyce, King)

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