Eternal punishment, meant Haines,
is not to know creation joy.
Buck Mulligan described the pains.
You do not need to be a goy
to understand such feelings. Bloom
appreciated them while eating
forbidden food. Eternal doom
can take a lethal beating
if you’re a poet. Ulysses
escaped it and, though late, returned
from near-death on the wine dark seas,
and found no hell where people burned.
Inspired, on the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, by the conversation between Bick Mulligan and Haines in chapter ten of James’ Joyce’s “Ulysses”:
Buck Mulligan bent across the table gravely.
They drove his wits astray, he said, by visions of hell. He will never capture the Attic note. The note of Swinburne, of all poets, the white death and the ruddy birth. That is his tragedy. He can never be a poet. The joy of creation…
Eternal punishment, Haines said, nodding curtly. I see. I tackled him this morning on belief. There was something on his mond. I saw. It’s rather interesting because professor Pokorny of Vienna makes an interesting poet of that.
Buck Mulligan’s watchful eyes saw the waitress come. He helped her to unload her tray.
He can find not trace of hell in ancient Irish myth, Haines said, amid the cheerful cups. The moral idea seems lacking., the sense of destiny, of retribution. Rather strange he should have just that fixed idea.
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