Happy Bloomsday! Plus New Poetry

Happy Bloomsday! Plus New Poetry

Sunflowers. By Vincent Van Gogh. 1888
Sunflowers. By Vincent Van Gogh. 1888

Nothing was as it seemed, when Van Gogh painted it. Roiling underneath the subject, flying above it, surrounding it, were his passions, his intensity, his flights into realms most of us could only guess at, if we can match him for moral imagination, or imagination period. With Van Gogh, a rose was not a rose was not a rose.

Ray Succre writes poetry along these same lines, or conjunctions, or coincidences, with a mask or two thrown in for good measure. Surreal, meant to be heard, meant to be spoken, they sing the uncanny.

Spinozablue presents two of his poems below.

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In honor of Bloomsday, I wanted to point you in the direction of a fine little essay about the people, real people, and their descendants, who found their way into Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s by Bridget Hourican for the Irish Times.  Click on the title for the link. An excerpt follows:

 

Ulysses in Real Life

IN THE 1940s, after Joyce’s death, BBC researchers arrived in Dublin to find people to interview for a radio programme. They approached Richard Irvine Best, the recently retired director of the National Library, and a gregarious man, well known on the literary social circuit. He wasn’t gregarious on this occasion: “What makes you think I have any connection with this man, Joyce?” The researchers pointed out that he was, after all, a character in Ulysses. Best drew himself up: “I am not a character in fiction. I am a living being.”

Fifty years later, when a friend of mine was asked in Germany what he thought of Ulysses – as all Irish abroad are asked at some point – he admitted that he hadn’t read it yet, but saved his reputation and astounded his questioner by adding that his great-uncle was in it. This great-uncle was Hugh MacNeill (the more disreputable brother of the revolutionary Eoin MacNeill) who appears, with his name cannibalised, as professor McHugh, murmuring “biscuitfully”. In 2004, an online comment, from John Kavanagh in Billericay, to a BBC News piece for Bloomsday bragged that “My great-grandad appears as a character in the book – old Troy of the Dublin Metropolitan Police”.

What was degrading for Richard Best – his appearance in Ulysses – has become a source of pride to future generations. The range of “real-life” historical characters in Ulysses is vast, so the world is full of unsuspecting “descendants” of these characters. Anyone who lives in Dublin gets used to name-checking places in Ulysses , such as the Martello tower, Sandymount Strand, Eccles Street and Davy Byrne’s pub, and Joyce’s boast – “If Dublin were destroyed, it could be reconstructed from my book” – is cited frequently by architects and planners, but Joyce was speaking more than architecturally. The whole cast of Edwardian Dublin, from prostitutes to priests to MPs, can be reassembled from his pages.

 

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