Sunday, 5 April 2009

Another Finnegans Wake experiment

Bloody wars in Ballyaughacleeaghbally
or a tribute to James Joyce

In the delldale dappling light
nancing by in flags or flitters
cranic heads in proudseye view
and in some greenish distance brum! brum!
tankyou bonnet to busby - the agincourting
tic for tac bissmark Underwetter!

Lord allmarshy! Durblin is sworming -
And so they went on, limelooking horsebags
in plight pledged peace on a tradewinds bay
and I with a big brewer's belch and the dungcart
and grassy ass ego pufflin blowbags behold Him -
as he is cruppin into hiz raw lenguege to loose a laugh.

gw 2009

Is the above a poem? And if it is, the question is: Who wrote it? 80% of the above text is taken from 10 or 12 pages thumbed open at random in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. It is then a series of phrases cobbled together with a few extra linkage words and several substituted words or changes to make some kind of sense or, more correctly, an impression. The whole process took perhaps 15 minutes. Does it make any sense to do this? Is it a complete folly, like Queen Victoria's rocket on Darwen Moor, and therefore a waste of time and effort? Or does it rightly serve to perpetuate Joyce and his creation Finnegans Wake in some small way and to give delighful words and phrases a new lease of life?
And all this by the common man from the tap room! Do it for yourself. Take Joyce's wonderful book with you the next time you go for your quart or half gallon of Guinness. Ponder the text over-hunched the bar or invisible in the sepia corner. Here's the packhorse-bridge reminder:

The critics all laugh
about Finnegans Wake -
the more stout you do quaff
the more sense it do make!



  1. I believe if I drank enough that might make sense!

  2. Cathy, that's the Liffey spirit! Not that I'm seriously recommending that we all turn ourselves into drunkards ...hic!
    It's of course as you probably worked out about a horse drawn dung cart passing by a military parade in Dublin. At the end of the poem the horse stops to crop some grass and about to let rip what is in polite circles know as wind. At the same time as this happens the narrator, the driver of the dung cart, spots James Joyce in the crowd who is passing a comment on the scene in 'raw lenguege'* - as is the horse.
    Nothing like this, as far as I'm aware, actually happens in Finnegans Wake but by bringing diverse strands together we have simply created a new poem and a new situation. Perhaps not a poem worthy of Joyce himself but an amusing anecdote nevertheless.
    *There's a story that Joyce was asked by a reporter or someone of that ilk: What did you do in the war Mr Joyce? - to which he replied: I wrote Ulysees, what did you do?

  3. I have never been able to read Finnegan's Wake in spite of the fact that my son, Dominic, is such a James Joyce fan. But I do love that poem!

  4. Weaver, we are not alone! I think it's true in the normal sense that The Wake is meant or intended to be basically ... well, unreadable.


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