Monday, June 16, 2008

Bloomsday 2008

June 16, 1904: Mrs. Leopold (Marion, Molly) Bloom will soon embark on a concert tour. Later today she's meeting Blazes Boylan, the (ahem) "organiser" of the tour, to (ahem) rehearse. Mr. Bloom notices a letter in Boylan's handwriting:

A strip of torn envelope peeped from under the dimpled pillow. In the act of going he stayed to straighten the bedspread.

—Who was the letter from? he asked.

Bold hand. Marion.

—O, Boylan, she said. He's bringing the programme.

—What are you singing?

La ci darem with J. C. Doyle, she said, and Love's Old Sweet Song.
In the Homeric schema of James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), Leopold Bloom is Odysseus; Molly Bloom, Penelope; Blazes Boylan, a suitor. "Love's Old Sweet Song" (1884, music by J.L. Molloy, words by G. Clifton Bingham) floats through the novel and suggests the crucial question of the Blooms' marriage: is Love's old song to be found only in memory, or might it (like Odysseus) yet return?
Once in the dear dead days beyond recall,
When on the world the mists began to fall,
Out of the dreams that rose in happy throng
Low to our hearts Love sang an old sweet song;
And in the dusk where fell the firelight gleam,
Softly it wove itself into our dream.

Just a song a twilight, when the lights are low,
And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go,
Tho' the heart be weary, sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight comes Love's old song,
     comes Love's old sweet song.

Even today we hear Love's song of yore,
Deep in our hearts it dwells forevermore.
Footsteps may falter, weary grow the way,
Still we can hear it at the close of day.
So till the end, when life's dim shadows fall,
Love will be found the sweetest song of all.

Just a song a twilight, when the lights are low,
And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go,
Tho' the heart be weary, sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight comes Love's old song,
     comes Love's old sweet song.

Related post
Bloomsday

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