sandymount sound

Bloomsday is synonymous with the streets of Dublin. However Sandymount Strand looms large in “Ulysses”

“Listen: a fourworded wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses, rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. It flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling.”

Stephen walks the full length of the beach a solitary figure contemplating his future within a heightened poetic sensibility.

“He had come nearer the edge of the sea and wet sand slapped his boots. The new air greeted him, harping in wild nerves, wind of wild air of seeds of brightness. Here, I am not walking out to the Kish lightship, am I? He stood suddenly, his feet beginning to sink slowly in the quaking soil. Turn back.

Turning, he scanned the shore south, his feet sinking again slowly in new sockets. The cold domed room of the tower waits. Through the barbacans the shafts of light are moving ever, slowly ever as my feet are sinking, creeping duskward over the dial floor. Blue dusk, nightfall, deep blue night. In the darkness of the dome they wait, their pushedback chairs, my obelisk valise, around a board of abandoned platters. Who to clear it? He has the key. I will not sleep there when this night comes. A shut door of a silent tower, entombing their — blind bodies, the panthersahib and his pointer. Call: no answer. He lifted his feet up from the suck and turned back by the mole of boulders. Take all, keep all. My soul walks with me, form of forms. So in the moon’s midwatches I pace the path above the rocks, in sable silvered, hearing Elsinore’s tempting flood.

The flood is following me. I can watch it flow past from here. Get back then by the Poolbeg road to the strand there. He climbed over the sedge and eely oarweeds and sat on a stool of rock, resting his ashplant in a grike.”

Stephen mocks his ambition as a writer as mere vanity and links himself to a young Italian P
ico della Mirandola. A philosopher of the Renaissance who aged 23 proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic. In 1486 he wrote “Oration on the Dignity of Man” on the necessity for such a large undertaking.

“I have not been afraid to enter so dangerous a contest even against the very strongest and vigorous opponents. Whether, in doing so, I have acted foolishly or not might better be judged from the outcome of the contest than from my age.”

It is more difficult for me, however, to find a line of defence against those who tell me that I am unequal to the undertaking. If I say that I am equal to it, I shall appear to entertain an immodestly high opinion of myself. If I admit that I am unequal to it, while persisting in it, I shall certainly risk being called temerarious and imprudent. You see the difficulties into which I have fallen, the position in which I am placed. I cannot, without censure, promise something about myself, nor, without equal censure, fail in what I promise. Perhaps I can invoke that saying of Job: "the Spirit is in all men," or take consolation in what was said to Timothy: "Let no man despise your youth."

Stephen objectifies his aspirations as mere pose, shatters romantic ideals and discarding the artificial liberates himself to a freedom of being in communion with nature.

“His feet marched in sudden proud rhythm over the sand furrows, along by the boulders of the south wall. He stared at them proudly, piled stone mammoth skulls. Gold light on sea, on sand, on boulders. The sun is there, the slender trees, the lemon houses.”

Read the full text of Proteus
“Ulysses” James Joyce Bodley Head Edition Pages 31-42
Joyce went on to write “Finnegans Wake”. He created a new language to expand our experience through a synthesis of the history of humankind. Joyce completed Pico's ambition and gave us a book that cannot be interpreted within a reductive concept but allows us to awaken within the rich knowledge base of all humanity.