chapter  161
1 Pages

Robert Hillyer, Comment in New Adelphi 1928

As lyrics merely, some of Mr. Joyce's Pomes Penyeach are among the most memorable of our collection [those being reviewed]. For instance: [quotes 'Bahnhofstrasse'] The exquisite vowel sounds, the half-heard echo from the carol, and the music of the whole poem show an unconscious power that artistry alone can never achieve. And we wonder at these qualities until we notice that the poems were written some years ago, before Mr. Joyce had embarked on his Odyssey, before pedantry had conquered his talents. One critic in America, slavishly devoted to the cult of the later Joyce, praised these lyrics extravagantly, far, far beyond their actual merits which are, indeed, high enough. This is a curious inconsistency explained only by the fact that anything signed by Mr. Joyce is sacrosanct to some. The truth is that one cannot sincerely admire both these simple lyrics and Ulysses: they were written by two opposed personalities, one the sensitive youth who composed the poems, the other, the weary man who bestowed on them the title Pomes Penyeach.