Old wall where sudden lizards flash: The poetry of Joyce’s Ulysses

Reading James Joyce’s Ulysses for the first time, fragments of the text spark other verses.

“A hand plucking the harpstrings merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.” (Telemachus, p. 9)

Who plays a new world on the brink of the ebb
As the fish cats prowl in the harbour
And now soars high on the beckoning tides’ long arm
To weigh his last anchor

Roy Harper, The Lord’s Prayer

“Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted.” (Nestor, p. 25)

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

TS Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“…their blood beaked prows riding low on a molten pewter surf.” (Proteus, p. 45)

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way

Dylan Thomas, And Death Shall Have No Dominion

“On the slow weedy waterway he had floated on his raft coastward over Ireland drawn by a haulage rope past beds of reeds, over slime, mudchoked bottles, carrion dogs.” (Hades, p. 95)

The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.

TS Eliot, The Waste Land

“Coffined thoughts around me, in mummycases, embalmed in spice or words.” (Scylla and Charybdis, p. 186)

The palace of mirrors
Where dog soldiers are reflected
The endless road and the wailing of chimes
The empty rooms where her memory is protected
Where the angels’ voices whisper to the souls of previous times

Bob Dylan, Changing of the Guards

“Old wall where sudden lizards flash.” (Scylla and Charybdis, p. 194)

Everlasting light is burning bright inside his cage
He’s only got to breathe to fan the blaze

Roy Harper, The Same Old Rock

“He walked by the slumberous summer fields at midnight…” (Scylla and Charybdis, p. 201)

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill

“Where fallen archangels flung the stars of their brows.” (Wandering Rocks, p. 232)

Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel

Bob Dylan, Visions of Johanna

“She dances in a foul gloom where gum burns with garlic.” (Wandering Rocks, p. 232)

There’s a neon light ablaze in the green smoky haze
And laughter down on Elizabeth Street
There’s a lonesome bell tone in that valley of stone
Where she bathed in a stream of pure heat

Bob Dylan, Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)

“Love loves to love love” (Cyclops, p. 319)

And the loves that love to love that loves to love
That loves to love the loves that loves to love
The love that loves to love
Say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

Van Morrison, Madame George

“It burns, the orient, a sky of sapphire, cleft by the bronze flight of eagles.” (Circe, p. 451)

I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea! We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee; And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky, Has awakened in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.

WB Yeats, The White Birds

“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.” (Ithaca, p. 651)

Ah, I long for the vanished gardens of Cordoba, where no thing hangs or rises up desirous to be sucked in or forced out, where all beings are sublime, tasting only the nectar of Love-Bliss in their mouths, their tongues clinging to the roof of their tooth-hood only for Happiness, without the slightest thought of self, without the slightest thought of clinging to another. Such Bliss is not heaven! It is nowhere, nowhere at all, not then, not now, not in the future. Such Bliss has never been experienced by beings at all except in their moment of vanishing when they slide upon the Light from which forms are made.

Adi Da Samraj (Da Free John), The Vanished Gardens Of Córdoba (from The Dreaded Gom-Boo or the Imaginary Disease That Religion Seeks to Cure, p. 368)

“Ever he would wander, selfcompelled, to the extreme limit of his cometary orbit, beyond the fixed stars and variable suns and telescopic planets, astronomical waifs and strays, to the extreme boundary of space, passing from land to land, among peoples, amid events.” (Ithaca, p. 680)

Yes stretch out your hands into infinity you human things
Past blind moons and ice cream worlds
You hurl your metal ball of dull intelligence
And show us all our fragile grip
As we too track with you
Slower but no less insistent
Like the only fertile seed
In the barren vault of being
Sail on
Hurtling towards the waiting tomb of empty worlds
Waiting for the final primary come of life
I’ll turn you up

Bob Geldof, Thinking Voyager 2 Type Things

“…theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is…” (Penelope, p. 731)

Flowers on the hillside blooming crazy
Crickets talking back and forth in rhyme
Blue river running slow and lazy
I could stay with you forever and never realize the time

Bob Dylan, You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

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