chapter  16
4 Pages

Arthur Symons on Joyce's Poetry 1933

Joyce? Words and cadences must have an intoxication for him, the intoxication of the scholar; and in his own wandering way he has been a wild vagabond, a vagabond of the mind and of the imagination. He knows that words are living things, which we have not created, and which go their way without demanding from us the right to live. He knows that words are suspicious, not without malice, and that they resist mere force with the impalpable resistance of fire or water. They are to be caught only with guile or trust. And his voice can be heard like a wandering music, which comes troublingly into the mind, bringing with it the solace of its old and recaptured melodies. And I am haunted by the strange wild beauty of two of his poems, Flood and Nightpiece. Take, for instance, this stanza:

Saraphim, The lost host awaken To service till In moonless gloom as each lapses muted, dim, Raised when she has and shaken Her thurible.