Today is Bloomsday and as promised, we have another small selection of poems to mark this occasion written by Hayden Murphy. Two Bloomsday poemshave already appeared on this site, but these three are of an altogether more personal import. ‘Telemachus’ was written to commemorate Bloomsday 100 in 2004 and has appeared in an eighteen poem sequence relating to Joyce’s Ulysses entitled Modalities (Roncadora Press, 2005). ‘A Modest Proposal’ was for Bloomsday 2008 and ‘Second Sight’ for Bloomsday 2013.
Here Hayden himself explains the poems for Bloomsday project which he has been engaged in for over fifty years:
Since June 16th 1969, in Paris, I have attempted to mark Bloomsday with a “word offering”, in a limited edition (50), for distribution among friends. I have always tried to collaborate with a visual artist in these publications. I have been fortunate since 1992 to work with the Scottish artist and publisher Hugh Bryden. In 2014, to mark the 110 commemoration of the events related in James Joyce’s Ulysses, The Consulate of Ireland to Scotland, in Edinburgh, mounted a retrospective exhibition of our work together and a selection of correspondence with recipients down the years including the poets Brendan Kennelly, Edwin Morgan and Seamus Heaney and the dramatist Brian Friel ( Bloomsdays Abroad: June 16th-21st, ).
Edinburgh: April 2020.
In a bright silent instant
Stephen saw his own image in cheapdusty
Mourning between their gay attires.
– It’s a wonderful tale, Haines said,
– Bringing them to a halt again.
Wave shaves wave in the tower shadow. Let
Day begin on this watercolouring trampoline.
Razor sharp summersaulting sentences
Let loose their words. They walk the tight
Rope held by their circus animals half
Tamed. Associate with strangers. Press on.
Recite again. Stop, be slow. Recite
Again until the wordweave’s right. Now
Abandon silence. Sea salmon sirens leap.
Now we are tenderly safe to declare love.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
Say a few simple words
he could twist how he liked
not acting with precipit
precipitancy with equal candour
the greatest earthly happiness
answer to a gentlemans proposal
Take this hand
To tongue and tell
Its palm to salt
The moment for all
It’s worth. A moment
Of much that stills
The mouth until, word
Wise, abandoned silence
Tells of the taste
Of love’s song
Flavouring the air’s
Grace note be born.
The watchman going about
serene with his lamp….
Oh and the sea the sea crimson
sometimes like fire
and the glorious sunsets..where
I was a flower of the mountain yes
The kind of understanding that consists in seeing connections.
Holding fast to the tender contradiction
Between sight and vision. A voyage on water.
Only a heart-beat lies in the eye-blink. The pause.
I hold fast to the words treasured in my tender lies.
Confuse me with brightness, please. Preferably by water.
Now let me leave the Joycewords for another day.
Now let sight associate with sound.
The eyes become curator rather than narrator.
The heart’s perspective, the peripheral slight of echo
In the memory. Nuance’s imperative. The distracting line.
The bird flight heard but unseen. A ship drydocked.
A dream stranded in these nights when eyes are closed.
Sailing towards Ithaca my Third Eye blinked.
The seal cavorting on the seaside of my eyes became
The night’s bat fornicating with the abandoned owl of day.
Holding fast now to the inside vision in this dream
Of this voyage in a returning ship narrated not curated
By my crew composed of my internal bestiary:
Owls, dragons, belfry bats and The Yellow Bittern’s ghost.
I travel only by water.
Now as this poem is ending I am blind
To all but the weight of this poem non-ending.