The Siren Call of Song

Ulysses_SirensAnother chapter read this very morning in two sittings separated by trip to the local store for bread and a newspaper! I find Ulysses less a pea-souper fog to find my way through and more an actual pea-soup to eat  – tasty! I’m not sure where we are in Sirens or what time it is either – however, eventually I do fathom the position of the characters. Initially I mistakenly thought we were in a tea room with all the talk of tea, but it appears we are in a bar and the ladies I thought were taking tea are … what? Barmaids. The bronze and the gold are later joined by several of the men we have met previously and both Simon and then Ben sing a song. The blind guy who has been wandering about turns out to be a piano tuner who has mislaid his tuning fork and is on his to retrieve it.

Well, that’s pretty much it to be honest. Oh, yeah. Bloom is also in the bar, but in an adjoining room, having some lunch (which I thought he’d already had?) with some fellows (who?) and for some reason (what?). I assume he is once more avoiding Blazes who is in the bar with the others listening to the men encouraged to sing. Bloom scribbles something to his pen-pal Martha and leaves.

Of course there are many repetitions of words and thoughts. Bloom continues to brood about Rudy. His mind is, as usual, easily put to thoughts of bodily functions and ideas about the fairer sex. The chapter looks and reads differently to previous chapters but what that might mean I have no idea.

Douce and Kennedy both laugh at the thought of Bloom earlier on and one (gold or bronze) later flirts I think with Ben Dollard. Blazes always gets some attention. He is still on his way to meet Bloom’s wife Molly. I’m not entirely sure whether or not Bloom knows this, suspects it or is completely oblivious to it and whether or not he has other reasons for avoiding Boylan – apart that is from them being polar opposites in character anyway. Thinking: If Ben and Simon are singing surely they are the Sirens, but something tells me, logic perhaps, the Sirens are more likely the Gold and the Bronze?

Not so much to say on this chapter (not being fond of looking an idiot every week) except that I enjoyed reading it (after the usual slow start) and was particularly taken with Pat the Waiter who keeps you waiting while he waits. Ha!

Do let me know what I missed. I’m assuming a great deal – about what I’m reading AND about what I’m missing too!

What’s next? Cyclops!

5 thoughts on “The Siren Call of Song

  1. Dear Sir,

    You are on the North Bank of the Liffey River, along Ormand Quay, perhaps a two to three blocks from the O’Connell Street Bridge. This was a bar, it became the Ormond Hotel, and when I was looking for it this summer, I was unable to identify the building (not being a native, and only in the city for a week). This area of town is called Bachelor’s Walk (I think this is actually mentioned in the text, but I read it some time ago–this summer–and don’t recall), and only runs for three or four blocks to the east of the O’Connell Street Bridge. As to time of day, I can’t advise–I was thinking on the order of 3-4 o’clock, but. . .

    You weren’t asking, but I thought I’d offer.



  2. Dear Blogkeeper,

    I said east above, and I meant to say west. I wrote it checked twice, and still got it wrong. Sorry. According to my reconnaissance, the Ormond Hotel was to be between the Ha’ Penny Bridge and the O’Connell Bridge on the North Bank of the Liffey. I never did find it or even the remnants of it, but perhaps I wasn’t looking properly, because I am assured that it exists or at least existed up until recently. And there are pictures of it to be found on the ‘net.



  3. “Sirens” does read differently. As with most pieces of music, it has verses refrains. In some cases, Joyce varies the refrain each time it comes around – which leads me to Boylan. Bloom knows that Boylan is on his way to his (Bloom’s) house as he is sitting in the Ormond, and Boylan does in fact arrive (in more than one sense) during this chapter. With a cock carra carra…

  4. …this is sort of a backwards way to read the book, but in the case of “Sirens” I often ask myself–if Bloom is Odysseus, what temptation is calling out to him? What does he have to be lashed to the mast to resist? I suppose the barmaids themselves are sirens on some level, but I also think that Boylan’s presence is a kind of temptation. Bloom knows that Boylan’s next stop after the hotel bar is the assignation with Molly. He could do something, he could interfere, but he chooses not to–partly because he knows there’s nothing he can do, of course. I’ve also always thought it was funny that Bloom chooses this moment to write back to Martha Clifford–he has many other opportunities, but chooses to write her when he’s having lunch with Richie Goulding. It’s as if he wants to be caught…

  5. I think Mike’s point about the temptation to stop Boylan is a good one.

    I’ll also throw this idea in: If Odysseus’ (Bloom’s) objective is to get home to banish Penelope’s suitors (Boylan), the music, the food and drink (provided by Bronze and Gold), the warm atmosphere, and the letter to Martha Clifford are the sirens’ song.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *