chapter  156
1 Pages

M, Review in Irish Statesman 1927

It is many years now since James Joyce wrote the verses which were published as Chamber Music, verses which had a deliberate, carved, delicate beauty in which the most subtle critic could not have discovered one single phrase suggestive of the terrible realism of Ulysses. The lyrics were so restrained, so delicately fashioned, one felt that the poet would not trust his heart into his poetry. He seemed rather to wish to create images like the finest porcelain and two or three of the lyrics had a light carven beauty as if the transcience of some lovely motion had been stayed so that it might be enjoyed for ever. There is nothing in the new book quite so exquisite as the best lyrics in Chamber Music. The poet seems to have been aware that in his youth he had created something which perhaps became more beautiful in retrospect in his imagination because the full strength of his intellect had since been devoted to writing the most realistic novels of our generation, and his early verse may have littered in memory with the irridescence of a shell if a thought of it had come up when he was writing the meditations of Mrs. Bloom. Nobody likes losing a gift which once was theirs and Joyce seems every now and then to have tried whether he had lost the ancient art and the verses, all but one written between 1912 and 1924 are gathered up in this little volume. It is curious to find in this writer, the most resolute and unabashed explorer of the crypts and sewers of the soul a strain almost of sentimentality every now and then. This might have been written by almost any young versifying sentimentalist.