James Joyce

Happy Bloomsday!

As promised my choice of James Joyce’s verse today will mark today’s event (though Bloomsday seems to have begun to stretch out over a few days as though it refuses to be confined by a mere twenty-four hours). I probably won’t actually be doing anything Bloomsday-ish though, as I will be at the Dalkey Book Festival for a couple of the Kids’ events. I just hope the weather is kind to us. But back to James Joyce…

For this poem I am returning to one of the anthologies I have used before, selected by Kaye Webb from children’s suggestions of their favourite poems.

Chamber Music

book cover of I like this Poem by Kaye Webb

Another #Poetryinjune choice


Lean out of the window,
Golden hair,
I hear you singing
A merry air.

My book is closed;
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my books:
I have left my room:
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom.

Singing and singing
A merry air.
Lean out of the window,
Golden hair.

I was surprised to see that this poem was from James Joyce; it doesn’t strike me as the sort of piece he would write. It has such a gentle, tender story book quality. But then I have to confess to not being a very experienced Joycean so perhaps my impression is wide of the mark. The poem was originally the title poem of a collection of love poems published in 1907 by Elkin Matthews.

Joyce later said to his wife, ‘ When I wrote [Chamber Music], I was a lonely boy, walking about by myself at night and thinking that one day a girl would love me.’  There is also a more earthy tale about a connection with chamber pots which may or may not have any basis in fact. Appropriately enough, considering the date today,  In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom reflects, ‘Chamber music. Could make a pun on that.’

The young reader who put forward this choice in the anthology said it was, ‘because it reminds me of the best fairy tales, such as Rapunzel singing from a turret window at dusk…It is reassuringly old-fashioned and chivalrous…quietly inspiring and my favourite poem’. (Charlotte Woodward in I like this poem). One of the aspects I love about this collection is reading the comments made by the children (I wonder where they all are now – do they still read poetry?) showing their engagement and enthusiasm with the written word.

I’ll leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend, wherever you are. Regards to all James Joyce aficionados celebrating Bloomsday.


One comment on “James Joyce

  1. clareodea says:

    Should it be rom rather than room in 3rd verse? (said in a helpful sounding voice, no need to post this)


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