Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Half the ships of the world" (Joyce reminding us where Elvis Costello got it)

In carving rock song lyrics from James Joyce's Ulysses, I am down to the last splash: the long monoloque by Molly Bloom that ends the day and the tale.

Her monologue is pretty much one long, rhapsodic, quirky song, so I'll be curious to see what I noted along the way to pluck out of it.

"Half the ships of the world"

with her switch of false hair on her
and vain about her appearance
ugly as she was near 80 or 100
her face a mass of wrinkles
with all her religion domineering
because she never could get over the Atlantic fleet
coming in half the ships of the world
and the Union Jack flying with all her carabineros
because 4 drunken English sailors
took all the rock from them

and because I didn't run into mass often enough
in Santa Maria to please her
with her shawl up on her
except when there was a marriage on
with all her miracles of the saints

and her blessed black virgin with the silver dress
and the sun dancing 3 times on Easter Sunday morning
and when the priest was going by with the bell
bringing the vatican to the dying
blessing herself

This reads to me like Elvis Costello lyrics at his very best, ca. Trust - there is a world out there and a fully realized story, which I believe in without really understanding any of it.

Various online trots for this difficult novel spell connect these images Molly has for Mrs. Rubio - a Spanish house servant from her youth - to events in the history of Gibraltar.


The complete "Songs from Ulysses" series

"The sailors playing all birds fly"
"And the sun shines for you today"
"Half the ships of the world"
"He rests"
"Less reprehensible"
"Restless. Solitary."
"I'm tired of all them rocks in the sea"

Pretty pretty petticoats"
"Music without Words, pray for us"

"SIGNOR MAFFEI: (With a sinister smile)"

"Sad music"

"Monkey puzzle"

"What kind of a present to give"

"Fires in the houses of poor people"

"Christfox in leather trews"

"All future plunges to the past"

"She was humming"

"Silly billies:"

"Happy Happy"

"A sugarsticky girl"

"Everybody eating everyone else"

"Blood not mine"

"Sell your soul for that"

"Over the motley slush"

"My childhood bends"

"Don't you play the giddy ox with me!"


Image of a naval invasion of Gibraltar from a history of the Chipulina family of that peninsula.

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