Friday, July 11, 2008

Of the many, many musical references that Joyce uses
in Ulysses, there are some that are quite significant
and some that are only briefly alluded to. One of the
more significant references, though it's appearance is
much more concise than songs like The Croppy Boy and
Love's Old Sweet Song is the traditional Irish song
Suil a Run. It is used in the Ithaca chapter. Chapter
17 of Ulysses (Ithaca) is written entirely in question
and answer form, like a catechism.

At one point as Stephen and Bloom walk back to Bloom's
house, they each refer to one song, which represents
their culture. Bloom picks a Hebrew song with which I
am unfamiliar. Stephen chooses a song which tells of a
young woman who is pining for her lover, who has fled to
France. If you don't have your copy of Ulysses handy, you
can find this portion on the internet here. But this
particular question and answer are below:

"What fragments of verse from the ancient Hebrew and ancient
Irish languages were cited with modulations of voice and
translation of texts by guest to host and by host to guest?
By Stephen: suil, suil, suil arun, suil go siocair agus suil
go cuin (walk, walk, walk your way, walk in safety, walk with
care). By Bloom: kifeloch, harimon rakatejch m'baad l'zamatejch
(thy temple amid thy hair is as a slice of pomegranate). "

There are many recordings of Suil a Run. The best is on the
album All of It by the band Skylark. Instrumentally, the song
is simple and perfect and no one sings it as beautifully as
Len Graham does in this recording. Suil Arun (the spelling
varies) is also a song from Joyce's personal repertoire. Listen
to it if you get the chance. The link above provides a sample
of the song.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tis the Last Rose of Summer

’Tis the Last Rose of Summer

A hauntingly beautiful song written by Thomas
Moore, also used in the opera Martha by Flotow.
One of his most popular songs, ‘Tis the Last
Rose of Summer sold over a million copies -
quite an achievement for a song in the late 1800s.
(Moore will receive a post of his own later on
this blog). More recently, Ken Burns used it as
background music for his documentary “New York”.
I don’t know of Joyce singing this one anywhere
but it certainly seems like one that would be in
his personal repertoire. It’s in his range
and all about loneliness and being left alone....

He used in the Sirens chapter like so:
“Last rose Castille of summer left bloom I feel so
sad alone.”...“Under the sandwichbell lay on a bier
of bread one last, one lonely last sardine of summer.
Bloom alone.”

Here are the lyrics of the first verse:
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

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