Stepping out of the page
While I was relaxing in Ireland over Christmas, I was blissfully cut off from my usual diet of a constant stream of RSS feeds. I didn’t mind missing the latest news stories, magazine articles and blog entries but I did feel a twinge of guilt when I returned to a backlog of unread pages of Ulysses in its page-a-day XML format.
I was tempted to just carry on without going back to read what I had missed while I was away. In the end, I decided to do the electronic equivalent of flipping back a few pages. I’m glad I did. Otherwise I would have missed this passage describing Leopold Bloom as he sits in Davy Byrne’s pub at lunchtime, finishing a ham and mustard sandwich with a glass of Burgundy wine:
“Stuck on the pane two flies buzzed, stuck.”
“Glowing wine on his palate lingered swallowed. Crushing in the winepress grapes of Burgundy. Sun’s heat it is. Seems to a secret touch telling me memory. Touched his sense moistened remembered. Hidden under wild ferns on Howth below us bay sleeping: sky. No sound. The sky. The bay purple by the Lion’s head. Green by Drumleck. Yellowgreen towards Sutton. Fields of undersea, the lines faint brown in grass, buried cities. Pillowed on my coat she had her hair, earwigs in the heather scrub my hand under her nape, you’ll toss me all. O wonder! Coolsoft with ointments her hand touched me, caressed: her eyes upon me did not turn away. Ravished over her I lay, full lips full open, kissed her mouth. Yum. Softly she gave me in my mouth the seedcake warm and chewed. Mawkish pulp her mouth had mumbled sweetsour of her spittle. Joy: I ate it: joy. Young life, her lips that gave me pouting. Soft warm sticky gumjelly lips. Flowers her eyes were, take me, willing eyes. Pebbles fell. She lay still. A goat. No-one. High on Ben Howth rhododendrons a nannygoat walking surefooted, dropping currants. Screened under ferns she laughed warmfolded. Wildly I lay on her, kissed her: eyes, her lips, her stretched neck beating, woman’s breasts full in her blouse of nun’s veiling, fat nipples upright. Hot I tongued her. She kissed me. I was kissed. All yielding she tossed my hair. Kissed, she kissed me.”
“Me. And me now.”
“Stuck, the flies buzzed.”
The English language doesn’t get much better than that.