2010 edition FW pages 368-431
1939 edition FW pages 474-554
Intempesta Nox: The Third Watch of the Night
Shaun has metamorphosed into his third phase, Yawn. He has chased after his wind-blown hat as far as the centre or umbilicus of Ireland. He lies sprawled ‘above all other persons’ in semi-consciousness on the ground. X, the four historian-annalists cautiously approach him and, gathering round his prostrate form, squatting on their stools, they put to him an extended series of questions regarding some of the events already narrated with (perhaps) the communication intermediated by an interpreter (a dragoman), the ass. Their role is composite. They are the four kings of a pack of playing cards, one of whom is a coroner (or crowner) sent out to identify the body (whether it is Norman or Saxon) and to seize its belongings (the mailbag). They are the Magi come from afar to worship the infant Yawn (Jesus) in his ‘cubical crib;’. They are fishermen spreading a net over a precious catch, Yawn-Ikthys. They are official haruspicators inspecting Yawn's (spiritual) entrails for divine messages. And they are, inter alia, psychoanalysts, mesmerists, historiographers and so on, down to a bunch of newspaper hacks searching for a scoop.
From out of the sleeping body of Yawn arises, in strict order of appearance, the multiple voices of the principal characters of the Wake. The Four address these spirits, trying to tease out the mysteries of the book. It is as if all the big people in the dream, H.C. Earwicker, Anna Livia, and so on, are innate or immured in Yawn. One voice rises into articulation and falls away to be replaced by another. At the last, we get to hear from HCE himself, who speaks to us at length from the ‘next’ world to protest not only his innocence of the crimes attributed to him but, more positively, to point out the magnificence of his achievements: the building of the city, now Rome, now Carthage, now London, now Dublin, now any other city at any time. It is now intempesta nox, darkest night, starting with the seventh hour.
The episode opens with suspiration: Shaun's (Yawn's) soft and protracted wail. He lies in heart-soul dormancy in shadowed landscape. His arm hangs loose by a path-beaten staff. A sack of letters lies to his side. Shaun's dream monologue of the two previous chapters is over; but this, his broadcast or ‘drama parapolylogic’, is yet to be. Sweetly, softly, lowly so, he sighs, all semi-closing his eyes.
Hither from the four corners of Ireland they have come to him, the four travellers, traipsing along the narrow paths of Ireland by furze and scrub, up mountains and down dales, to the place where he lies, the Hill of Uisneach, with one half of him in Conn's Half but the whole of him nevertheless in Erin's five quarters. When they reach Yawn, he is pinned down by his own inertia in a bed of wild blossoms, among daffodils and poppies, and surrounded by a hedge of flowering potato-plants: epicures, garden-fillers, puritans and Aran chiefs.
To begin with the four speak in rotation in the regular order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but as we read on it becomes increasing difficult to posit convincing correlations between questioner and question. A more discernible breakdown is via Yawn's alter-voice, which does change coherently. The first time he speaks he does so in a triple voice, that of Saint Patrick, Charles Parnell, and Shem. This extends to 377.40 (486.32) where he speaks up in his own voice (Shaun's). At 382.14 (492.13) the voice of ALP takes over. This is repplaced by the clamour of the twelve customers at 386.03 (497.04). At 387.25 (499.04) the self-echoing leap-year girls take the stage. Shortly after, at 387.35 (499.16), Finnegan himself puts a word in. The triple-voice returns when that of Finnegan fades. After the SILENCE at 389.13 (501.06) the articulation becomes that of the eye-witness W.P. After W.P. has had his say, the patrolman Sigurdsson makes an appearance, at 396.38 (510.31). Treacle Tom pipes up at 407.02 (523.21). Issy takes over at 409.35 (527.03) and Sigurdsson returns at 412.27 (530.23). We hear from Kate at 412.39 (530.36) and, lastly, we get to listen to HCE proper, this time at some length, in his magnificent exculpation (III§3B) beginning at 413.34 (532.06).
Within this broad division there are, perhaps, other lesser voices of minor characters. It may be that there is throughout a babbling plurality of voices, all desperate to be listened to, which at specific points is filtered by the four for clarity. One thinks of Odysseus in the underworld. To increase the confusion, many of the answers acoustically echo the questions and vice versa. The communication itself is imperfect throughout. Yawn cannot quite make out what the four are saying to him, nor can they quite catch what he says in response.
The body of D (Shaun) lying at the centre of Ireland represents not only the dump, Kate Strong's midden containing ALP's letter and HCE's tomb, but also a kind of letter-box. Having enveloped and stamped himself at the close of III.2 Shaun now appears to have become his own mailbox, containing himself. The thousands of letters in him are thus the many voices that we hear rise from him.
Swift's traveller may have provided Joyce with a model for Yawn. On awakening in Lilliput on the first morning, Gulliver finds his limbs fastened on each side to the ground, his long, thick hair tied down, with several ligatures spread across his body from arm-pit to thigh, so that he could only gaze upwards at the sky.
III§3A: 368–413.33 (474–532.05)
When the Four arrive at Yawn's restingplace they are entranced, so much so they cannot tell their heels from their stools as they crouch down, the four of them, Matt and Mark and Luke and John, and there is no more of them unless you count the ass. Question time draws nigh. The ‘map of the souls' groupography’ (Shaun's unconscious mind) rises in relief before them. Matt suspects Yawn is dying: ‘he's giving, the wee bairn.’ Luke is of the opinion that he is boozed. John suspects he is rehearsing someone's funeral. Mark, getting to the point, whatever that is, simply wants Yawn to speak up, asking him, do you hear me, you, sir?
They spread a drifter net over him, whispering lest he wakes, enmeshing him in the net held stretched out by the four of them so as they could catch it when he rose to it, Yawn's pneuma, a silvery quivery sigh trapped in a golden mesh.
Hour by hour the postman snores, till finally he speaks:
They have made contact. The first thing the four codgers want to know concerns the historical ground Yawn is lying on. He agrees that it is prehistoric all right, and, yes, it is the same barrow, the self-same original orangery.
— Good, they declare, but has Yawn still got the letters? Are they in there in him? Can he hear them?
Yawn asserts he can and that indeed he has the letters, thousands of letters, millions of letters, for his darling one, his Isolde. His answer isn't good enough. What the interrogators would like to ascertain is the following.
— There is this matter, they say. They are told that there are six hundred and six different words in his language all with precisely the same meaning, isn't that so, but that there is not even one word at all to signify majesty. Are they right in that? And there are no roads, no primrose paths, no Eleusinian Way, no gateways, no sunken routes, no grass-grown treks, no slave-paved causeways, nor no nothing nowhere at all in all the wide valleys of green Erin to lead them to ‘hopenhaven.’ Is that the fact of the matter?
Yawn (it is Shem speaking now) answers in French: Comment? They have no letter ‘O’ in their tongue? He cannot quite hear. Why, he found the key himself, la clee, in a lump of dung, ‘dang les champs’. He found the word they're talking about in a field.
That is all very well, but the four stenographers find this baffling.
— Can he hold hard there a minute? What head in whose legs? And who is he to be talking about the Messiah so cleverly? Who is he himself anyhow?
Yawn is well able for this one and he owns up to being none other than ‘Trinathan Partnick Dieudonnay.’ He is, he says, seeking his darling one. Have they seen her by any chance?
— Is he then, they speculate, in a hat trick of his own making?
Yawn is sure that he is, the same: three persons, yet one and the same one. But, identities aside, he is feeling cold, so terribly cold.
— What's all this about shivering, the four want to know. Is Yawn afraid of wearing fur or what? Is he looking for his fairy godmother?
Yawn (Saint Patrick) cries out in existential despair about the voices of those who were near the woods of Foclut in Mayo, the voices that he dreamed were calling him back to Ireland. John tries to calm him down, reassuring him that he knows that place in Mayo himself, better than anybody.
— Would Yawn happen to know his cousin, Jasper Dougal, Jasper that keeps the public-house down that way, the parson's son?
Yawn says that he knows him well enough; but that is not the issue, the issue is the wolves. He is more afraid of the wolves than anything else. Whatever else, he pleads, don't fling him to the wolves.
This line of questioning is getting the annalists nowhere, so they try now to pin things down a little. He told them, did he not, a moment previously about the mound or barrow. Isn't that right? Now, they put it to him, before there was a plague barrow at all there was first a burial boat, a ship that ne'er returned, the Pourquoi Pas. Would Yawn agree with them about that? Would he agree that before there can be a boat there must be a sailor to sail in it? Isn't that self-evident?
Yawn agrees that this is so. There was this sailor, he says, ‘Magnus Spadebeard’ who offered to let Yawn suckle him, laying bare his paps. The sailor was ‘Hunkalus Childared Easterheld’, the ox-eyed man.
— O Jeyses' fluid!, as the poisoned well said. The four are flabbergasted at HCE's suggested pagan baptismal rite, and at Yawn's identity problems. Did he ever dream, they ask him, that he was eating his own tripe?
Yawn hints that he knows what they mean. He is tied up all right. He is in a fix.
— If he was suckling that old wolf, they suggest, he must have learnt how to howl himself, what? And this ancestor of his (they are getting close to their quest), when did he live, and where? Was it there where no spider ever spun web or when boats plied in the open streets?
Yawn thinks he may be dreaming but he's sure that it was some time before Christ.
— This ‘vulcanised hillsir’ of his, Mr ‘Tupling Toun’, would he be from the city, then, or did he hail from the country, if Yawn knows the difference?
Yawn replies that he is advised he might in a sense be both. And he is afraid to have to tell them one could not lob a stone over a wall in Dublin this October night but it would bounce off the back of one or other of his bastards. HCE is such an old man now he could be all their fathers.
Yawn, told to talk slowly, is now asked the true name of his father.
— Persse O'Reilly, he says. Ireland's Midas, a man with white eyelashes and gold ears! Pig Purssy Riley.
The four of them drift off now to talking among themselves, of John in particular, his hat and the cough that identifies him and the mule that he's pulling along behind him. But coming home to the original hen, they ask Yawn would he know a young schoolboy by the name of Kevin, or as others say, Evan Vaughan, that was shooing a hen that found the document number one. An illegible found by an ineligible, they would suggest.
Yawn does indeed know him, the saintly sage. Sometimes, he recalls, he would keep silent for a few minutes and clasp his forehead as if in prayer and during that time he would be thinking to himself and not mind anybody.
They see. The man who is sick of fate is cured by faith. The man that found the letter is the man, still more learned, that put it there originally. They quite understand. There are causes and effects. Or, if they may take it upon themselves to make the suggestion, the gist is the gist of Shaun but the hand is the hand of Shem, perhaps. But is there not a strong doubt about Kevin? Has Yawn himself reasonable hesitancy in his own mind about him, or is he keeping mum?
Yawn protests. Not at all! What would a wretch like that have to say to him or what would he have to do with him? They were mischievous in the womb and ever alike, presented at birth with match, egg, salt, and bread, talismans to be upright, healthy, safe, and good. God knows, Yawn was altered himself before he altered the other. And if Yawn confessed in full before him and before them, why did they say they would recommend him for the post to Humphrey & Nephew only to then go and canvas the other side to say Yawn was not mere Irish, all the time waiting their chance to run a dagger into him. He himself is just about fed up with the four of them. His caste is a cut above those peregrines. Behold the book of his generations. Has not his master written that the spirit is from the upper circle? Look here at the mark on his brow. Read what is earmarked on his face in the foreign by Pappagallus: Ex quovis ligno non fit mercurius. He can proudly point to his patrician coat of arms, with crest and motto: I serve. And his is the only personal name of any knight ever to be entered in the Doomsday book!
— Misha! What would they be doing looking at his sore toe? Is he speaking English, they want to know, or is he speaking Dutch? Can he not come to the point. Can he tell them about his threepenny bottle-washer of an old fellow? Will he tell them, eh? What about the one-and-only? What about the fat peach-lover, then? What about Esquire Earwicker of Jenkin's Area, bloody curse to him!
Yawn, speaking pidgin now, answers to the effect that he doesn't know the fellow actually, but he knows his own mother.
By now the four have had enough. The pidgin was the last straw.
— That's not Shaun, the postal clerk! Mixing Chinese and Japanese! Will he halt there with his sob story, whoever he is now, till they find out just who he is? They can see through him now. Is he even a Roman Catholic?
A triple-voice comes forth from Yawn in answer. One of the four old men now orders him to peer closely into his eye and follow his little lesson in psychologypsy. Now he is placing a T-shaped jade axe against Yawn's temple for a moment. Does Yawn see anything?
He does. He sees a pastry cook who is carrying on his head a mass of jelly for his Christ! How he is like somebody!
The old man lays a serpent with ram's head, the Urheka, against Yawn's lips. What does he feel?
He feels a fine lady floating on a stream, gold hair, and white arms, O la la!
As pure as the last one was pious, the old man says, knowing that in his trance Yawn has seen and felt Tristan and Isolde. Now he inverts the initial T and signs it on Yawn's breast, completing the Catholic triple crossing. What does Yawn hear?
He hears a hopper behind a door slapping his feet in a pool of bran.
The triptych vision passes.
Bollocks! Yawn is acting like a bollocks! They are delighted nevertheless at how picturesque his images are. Now they feel called upon to ask, did it ever occur to him — qua him for a moment — prior to this by a stretch of his imagination that he might be very largely substituted by a complementary character that is poles apart. Would he ponder this thought for a moment? Put everything else from his mind and just think about it.
Yawn thinks, God be thanked, he was just trying to think when he thought he felt a flea. It might have. He cannot say for it is of no significance at all. Once or twice when it occurred to him as he chanced to be stretching his imagination he felt queer round the middle so that he indicated to himself that he felt he wasn't himself at all. Maybe more often than they realise.
Is that the way it is with him, they ask, the creature! The voice they are hearing, they now fear, is the voice of Jacob. Even so, they want Yawn to identify who it is he is speaking for. Would he mind answering the question?
Yawn says he wouldn't strictly mind answering the question. It would be as unethical of him now not to answer it as it would have been nonsensical for them back then not to have asked it. They might well have known him once, but they won't know him twice.
The Shem-infused personality recedes and that of Shaun re-emerges to inform them that he never dreamed of being a postman, but there you have it. He claims that his brother — the brother that has just escaped him — Mr ‘Negoist Cabler’, a man whom it is better not to name, his deeply beloved brother, is in Australia someplace, the unfortunate scapegoat, having been expelled from Christianity for looking at churches from behind. He, the infamous brother, is the sender of the every-other-night begging telegram, reading Starving today stop play's opening tomorrow stop wire splosh stop Cabler. Surely they remember him, his sad late brother, how he went to Switzerland for the health of his lungs? Won't they join Yawn in a Hail Mary or a bottle of the best, in Cabler's name, the harp that once? And let them all pray that, mourned by those concluding him dead, he may yet escape the gallows and remain forever faithfully deported. Cabler wronged him, Yawn admits, badly wronged him! Still, he would like to learn from anyone on the air if the long lost demon is living someplace in the antipodes of Australia or wherever, safe and sound, or if his dear brother has hopped it for the better life over the great yawning gulf. He would appreciate word from anyone who can throw any light at all on the subject. Good God, how he remembers him when they were twin brothers sitting side by side gobbling their porridge, as alike as two eggs. He can admit he is beholden to him, all right. He is no scholar himself. In the heel of the hunt he loved that man, his brother with the African lips.
The inquisitors are amused at this muddle. It's Shaun speaking, to be sure, of Shem. As he puts it, it's a study. There he goes, talking to his other, writing a letter to himself, penning a diary of and for himself. But one thing bothers them, whence all his anxiety? Would he, Yawn, tell them if this other, this Shem, was ever vanquished?
— He was. A perambulator was rammed squarely into the small of his back one time while he was absorbed in reading a book aloud and he has been ailing of that kick in his pants ever since.
Sweet Madonna and child! An idealist leading a double life! The four annalists can see clearly now that there are two men in Yawn, a Browne and a Nolan: two equals and two opposites, an ipso beside an alio. But, to stretch the point, would Yawn pay them the courtesy of searching through his memory for the name of this impersonating medium. Would it be a doppelgänger much about his weight and size, but with red whiskers?
Yawn persists in being ambiguous: Stauter, he says; it is Stauter of Baggot Street. He passed him recently as Stauter was bringing home the Christmas. It is this Stauter who is doing the dirty on him with his tantrums and all the kilowatts he'd be better off without. Anyhow, what's right to one of him, in Yawn's mind, is left to the other.
— Was this happening at a ball Yawn was attending?
— No, he insists, he was simply attending a funeral.
— And this tryst that he told them of earlier, would they know the name of the street where it took place by any chance, if they heard it? Not that he is being asked to reveal any secrets.
The voice of Hosty the balladeer is up next, bawling out a ghastly distortion of his rann, here called Have You Erred off Van Homper? Hosty has time for one verse only, about Mark, who dropped his drawers in the park and had to borrow the shirt off the archbishop of York.
The Four remember him all right, the Van Homper that Hosty mentions. He was a right chancer, going around pretending to take the average grass temperature, the bloody sweep! And everyone was slapping him on the back about his new-born twin girls. He was resting between sheets, resting and waiting for war, the pro-Boer West Briton! Putting on his trousers and getting up when the bold Irish boys wouldn't join up. Reminiscences aside, what they would like Yawn to tell them is how he lost his voice, how he ‘dropped his Bass's to P flat.’ Was it over that he was laughed at and baited, run through the whole gamut?
ALP's voice rises out of Yawn, begging to ‘traverse same above statement by saxy luters in their back haul of Coalcutter.’ She accuses Sully, Magrath's strong-arm man, as the principal culprit in the saga and, moreover, identifies him (rather bizarrely) as Shem, author of anonymous material, originator of the first riddle of the universe and, as Hosty, composer of the damning ballad. The scandal reflects, she claims, upon her ‘administrants of slow poisoning.’ Her ‘dodear devere revered meinhirr’ was at the time, she understands, when she was taking a bottle to the druggist's to see was her water good, confined to guardroom as surely as Zenaphiah was in the Black Hole of Calcutta. The apothecary Dr Achmet Borumborad, the noted veterinary surgeon, then gave her some laxatives because HCE was forbidden fruit and certified as having functional disorders every inch as chronic as her own and was liable to succumb if served with a subpoena and the priest was on his way to anoint him in extreme unction and he, her lord and master, later took a swig out of the bottle telling her to look at his face in the papers and at that ballad of Persse O'Reilly and he never batted an eyelid, she insists, before he pecked her on the cheek and looked her straight in the mouth, the sunlight soap still glistening on his ruddy cheeks and jaws. He then showed her a poker, a ‘propendiculous loadpoker’ that he produced in a manly way, with the remark Livia, my dear, this is for Sneak!
ALP is happy to confess to all of the sins ascribed to HCE if that is what the four inquirers want, and to blush for him. But to sink to the depth of replying to the libels of those two sluts … well! Enough is enough. Dynamite is too good for them! Two degrading over-thirties in shorts! And that creeping snake, the said Sully, he is a blackguard and a tinker if there ever was one, with his anonymous letters and his scurrilous ballads. Well, Sully, she is pleased to tell them, was simply McGrath's thug and he regularly smells of Power's whiskey and is not fit to fling guts to a bear! They can take her stocking along with them to hang the wretch with. Oh, she would just love to stuff him under her mattress and lie on top of it and make love all night long with her O'Reilly. For their information, she is proud to be able to state that a handsome sovereign was freely pledged along with a basket of fruit to both of the two sluts of actresses by HCE, that noblest of magistrates whose motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense, with also much-admired engravings showing all of his manly parts in the act as required by statute.
The poor misguided woman! For all her university degrees, the four fear she is sadly mistaken about HCE; sure, as is well known, the old bugger was boycotted and his image defaced in unspeakable ways. There was not a man or a woman, young or old, to be found on the whole surface of the earth that would willingly go near him after his tumble, go near Mr Earwicker, Seed and Nursery man, or his gas-lit bungalow. But to change the subject, if he will, and identify himself with the real men in him, would he tell them now was this HCE person heavily into tea before he went on the beer and didn't he have something to do with sugar? His producers, were they not also his consumers?
The composite personality of HCE's twelve habitual customers surfaces to co-testify in unison that throngs were arriving clandestinely — an aggregate of hundreds of years of ages of them — for his embalmment after he was put on the bier: scalp and head-hunters, legates and prelates; hailing from far afield: from Rathgar, Rathanga, Roundtown and Rush; America, Asia, Europe and Africa; New South Wales and the Vico Road, Mespil and Sorrento. They flocked to his saloon, like iron-filings drawn to a magnet, like the cat afraid he was a goner but afraid to stay away. They came from Merrion, Dundrum, Lucan and Ashtown, Battersby and Crumlin, Phibsborough, Cabra and Finglas, Ballymun and Raheny and Clontarf: kings and emperors and shahs and sultans and sahibs and khans and maharajahs and a princess (or two) in her petticoat and queens and newspaper reporters, as many as the elevator in his house of bitters could accommodate, for his five-hundred-and-sixty-sixth birthday, hoping after plenty of fresh stout and balls of malt, helped down with slices of Kennedy's bread, to nobble or salvage their bit of him, the poor old royal basilisk with the arteriosclerosis, king Roderic O'Connor, Rex, a doddering wreck, busted to the world at large, on the round table with the floodlight switched on and thirteen candles in a halo round him, lying high in court dress and mayor's chain, with a smell off him like the accumulation of scents in an Italian whorehouse, bewept by all the angels, by cherubim and seraphim, by the powers and principalities, by virtues, thrones and dominations, by angels and archangels, and his great white arse stuck up, exposed for sale to the highest bidder after inspection. And he was cured and embalmed pending the resurrection of the body and most highly astounded at thus being reduced to nothing.
Mention of mourning elicits the multiple voices of the twenty-nine girls. They bewail Humphrey's passing and cry out the word ‘death’, each in a different language, all twenty-nine of them. Poor old Timothy Finnegan! Propped up like that, for sale, like a second-hand pharaoh! Requiem aeternam donna eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Here the voice of the old offender himself interjects: get on with them! God save the king, the adipose rex, to be sure! Dead? I had four in the morning and a couple more with lunch and three more later on. Your souls to the devil, do you think I'm dead!
Yawn is accused of mouthing an impossible tissue of improbable lies. Does he mean to sit there where he is, coddling his spare leg, tongue in cheek, like a muck in a market, repeating himself, and tell them that!
Yes, Yawn replies: he does mean to sit where he is, on the knoll, replete in himself, for the rest of his natural life in his homespun, like a sleeping dog, with all that is buried inside of him. If he cannot upset this Mount of Olives he can sit on it!
At this, the four suspect that Yawn may be an earth-presence. They hear a groan or something, Quares tristis, O anima mea?, come sighing out from him. Was it the sound of bagpipes?
What they are picking up, their ears to the ground, apart from static, is perhaps the sound of soldiers, the Redshanks, or it is the pounding of horses' hoofs or the footfalls of running deer. But no, it is none of these. It is a telephone conversation between Tristan and Isolde carried on the wires above them or under the ground beneath them. Or is it chattering coming from Yawn's insides? But hear it they do. Or at least they overhear as much of it as they can before disconnection and an ominous
Luke, who is here communicating with Yawn by wireless telephone from Sybil Head in Kerry, having first cleared the lines, attempts to establish certain details concerning the particular midsummer night in which they are interested, the night of the encounter in the Phoenix Park. Was it perchance a fine night?
— It was, the finest mortal ever saw.
— Was there rain by any chance, or mist and dew?
— Plenty, if one went far enough.
— There fell a fall of snow, no, white as ivory?
— Oh yes, snow stones.
— Did it blow a gale or two?
— Out of all jokes it did! Ice cold!
— And would he happen to recollect if the moon was shining at all?
— Sure it was shining, and not one moon but two moons!
— There was frost about? And thick weather and ice, cold and frozen, and a blanket of fog, weather to please nobody?
— There was, a great fall of hail and a smothering fog, weather at its worst.
— One would expect that sort of climate, the month was in it?
— He would expect it.
— And waves, whitecaps, were there any?
— There were waves like Foxrock foam and Finglas flakes. There was rain, sleet, snow, and thunder.
— This place where he was in all this weather, they ask, was it not a common or garden park where under sky-strewn stars broken clay pots lay by rotting vegetables.
— It was simply awful, the dirt. There was an everlasting ash tree there.
— They see. They get it now, the tree. Fair enough so. Does Yawn know at all the well-known kitchen-midden where the ill-assorted pair first met?
— Indeed, Yawn says, indeed he does.
— Well, they ask, to his knowledge was the place open and fairly exposed to the four winds?
— He sincerely believes this was so.
— Is the place, they ask, Stow-on-the-Wold perhaps, or maybe Woeful Dane Bottom?
— It was woeful all right, whatever about anything else in sunless Ireland.
— Was there a sign of warning posted thereabouts?
— There was one, he says, Trespassers will be prosecuted.
— Were there trees about, one in particular, a gigantic tree?
— There was an ash or elm beside the river at the foot of the mountains. It was the grandest, greenest tree ever grown in the rain-drenched history of all Ireland. It had a veritable snow drift on each branch. The wee people fed off it, and clothed themselves with it. They were warmed by it, this king of all trees, this father and mother of all plants.
— What was it doing there?
— It was standing there, in sunshine or in shadow.
— Did he see it clearly from where he was lying in hiding? Did he perhaps jot down whatever it was that he saw take place there?
— He took it down all right, lying down.
— Grand, was it? Just how grand was it, this brute of a bush, this sovereign beanstalk? What else does he know about it?
— It was immense, Yawn replies, it was a wizard tree. There were maids and shop girls and babes in it and madmen swinging out of it and apples hanging down from it and Fenians snoring in its bole and schoolboys crawling up it and schoolgirls crawling down it and pensioners chucking stones and knocking the chestnuts off it and hoydens picking fruit from it and cock robins hatching eggs in nests in it and honeysuckle growing all over and around it and ivies creeping up the heather on it and tits tapping at the tips of its branches and hermits of the desert breaking their shins over the multiple roots of it and acorns and pine corns growing out on all sides of it and the snake whispering down to Eve from it, Wouldn't she love a fashionable satin dress, and its leaves shaded everything under it and its branches interlocked and twisted and it set seed from generation to generation, from the beginning of all time to its end.
— Come now, was it really so exalted and extraordinary as all that?
— Among trees, nobody ever saw anything to equal it.
— Is he telling them the truth?
— Yes, though it's much of a muchness if he is.
— Very well, now, is he derivative of it himself in any way? Of the tree, they mean.
— Well, he had carved his name on it and he had climbed up into it and was called a devil of the deepest dye and told to come down out of that and be ashamed of himself for the rest of his life.
— Good. They are getting somewhere at last. Now then, is he acquainted with a man known as ‘Toucher’ Thom? They suggest Finglas is his habitat. Let him consider himself on the stand and watch his words. A man of around fifty, fond of Lynch's tea with milk and whiskey, who does messages and has more dirt on him than an old dog has fleas, a man who kicks stones into gutters and knocks snow off walls. Has he heard of this old boy, Tom or Tim or whatever his name is, who belongs to Kimmage and is not all there and is all the more himself since he is not so, being most of his time down at The Green Man, who steals, pawns, belches and is a curse, who drinks daily till two hours after closing time with his socks outside his boots and his coat inside out?
— That old fellow, is it him? Of course he knows him. As mad as brambles he is, going around with lawyers dogging his footsteps and forget-me-not pinned to his beret. He has kissed him more than once, he is sorry to say. If he did commit adultery, may the Lord forgive him.
— Good all so. Now, the man they are alluding to is the ‘pater of the present man’, his own father, an early-demented bricklayer. Was this ‘Toucher’ Thom, a Methodist said by some to have quite a different name and who was not a Thom at all, was ‘Toucher’, the hundred-year-old Booterstown resident and wiliest old gaffer that ‘ever hawked crannock’. was he the man who had his teeth shaken out of their sockets by a rabid dog for having six pints of non-Irish blood in him? Was he, to come to the point, wearing a hat and a coat only for the occasion of the wedding?
Yawn tells them that he, Thom, was; but he adds that Thom's clothes were falling down off him in a curious epiphany.
— And were the twin ‘subligate’ sisters in pretty much the same condition? And are these two goddesses liable to sue him, Thom? And were they themselves watching him as he was watching them?
— Sure, Yawn agrees, everyone was watching, watchers and watched alike, watched watching watcher watched.
— And did Yawn gather anything himself from what the man let drop? They are sitting there to learn precisely that.
Yawn repeats himself. ‘Toucher’ was mad, no doubt about it. He was mad about his shapeless hat. He says he was sorry for him.
— Was he, they ask, sorry because he was mad with ‘Toucher?’
— He was, he says, mad with himself rather for being sorry for Thom.
— And would Yawn blame ‘Toucher?’
— Well now, he believes in many an old-timer.
Moving on now from shorthand note-taking to stenography and coming back to the occasion of the wedding, the Four, who are squatting on low stools around Yawn, ask him how many were married on that particular morning.
— He cannot exactly say.
— Well then, was everybody present drunk? And was there not some trouble when a few nasty clubs were produced and some plates were pegged about and glasses were sent flying at that time in Finn's Hotel? Was there a sort of breakfast after this diversion? What about it?
— Naturally there was, he reassures them. The bride and the priest were sober enough. At least he thinks they were.
The Four feel he is wrong about the priest being all that sober. But, coming back to the point, McGrath, they want to know was the said McGrath the best man? Did he catch sight of him?
Yawn thinks that he saw him there. At the stroke of twelve he is sure he's wrong but he heard him, ‘the irreverend Mr Magraw, in search of a stammer’, kicking the bedding out of the old sexton in the sacristy while he himself and another man were tickling the missus to blazes in the hall. It was over a pint of porter, he's sure.
— Oh was it now? And was the father of the bride there?
— He was there, in the pink, squeezing the life out of the Liffey water. They were all dancing.
— And were the queer quartet there, four to the fore, metamorphosed and deciding where and when they would be themselves again, drinking unsteadily, and their ass along with them?
— They were. Then suddenly there was a great deal of kicking and shoving.
— Was it a wake or a wedding he was at? Did the sexton that had the stuffing knocked out of him have anything to say?
— Not a word: damn all: he was a clam.
— Was the poor beggar successful in sublimating his suppressions? How exactly did these funeral games take place?
Yawn is sad to say that he was drunk at the time and cannot say. Asked to go over the whole plan of campaign, he claims to have forgotten it. He does, however, remember one detail: Mister Chairman (Shem) came up to town from the West in his rags and was whistling into a bone and doffing his hat and saying hello to everyone in his usual flea-and-louse-like manner and dragging his feet and later on, while looking at his watch, he kept cursing for the key to the gate to be produced, saying how he was robbed, and he wanted to know who it was that had set fire to the hay. The other party who was raging with the thirst was only standing, an innocent passerby, at a corner of Talbot Street and looking into the window of a pawnshop and preparing to spit wanted to know what he wanted with him.
— In other words, the old men intimate, that was how the string of assaults most originally began? And did one of the two antagonists, on resuming the war after stopping it to say the Angelus, not there and then call to the other that he was a pig-headed Swede and tell him he needed to go and see a doctor?
— It was a turnip-headed dunce he called him and he said that he would happily blow him off the green.
— Would this have been about half past twelve by the clock?
Would it? Yawn has no idea of the time.
— And would he, Yawn, swear to it that he subsequently saw their shadows struggling and a cloud of dust being kicked up.
He would. There was. He swears.
— A weapon, an illegal-looking range or fender, alias turfing-iron, alias briar (pipe), changed hands several times during the affray: would they be correct in thinking that?
— Neither of the two men knew that the war was over, Yawn explains, and they were only being traditional and hammering one another with stout-bottles.
— And this typical putsch — did it go on night after night, endlessly, for years and years?
— It did.
The four jurists now query the logic of some of his responses. Does he mean to lie there and tell them on oath and expect them to believe him when he insists that the moon was shining, as he earlier claimed it was, and that there was not one moon but two moons, and that the wind was blowing, night after night, when he was after swearing a short while back that there was rain, teems of rain, all the time?
He is sure that he never really thought about it, faith. He was informed that rain was anticipated and was also told by the same individual, Tarpey, a friend of his, that he, Tarpey, was strolling through the park when he met Father Michael Clery who said that Father MacGregor was concerned at the way the public convenience was locked up simply because it had been frequented of late by loose stragglers that abused the apparatus and that Tarpey was to pull himself together, slap on his hat and go and see Father MacGregor and he was to tell him the whole truth about the three shillings and explain, if he could, how Mrs Lyons, the invalid, who was expecting the rain he (Yawn) was told about, had promised to post it (the three shillings off her dowry) from Paraguay to Father MacGregor to say mass for all the crimes committed by the non-behaviourists and for the Blessed Virgin to send more rain.
The questioners are confused. What on earth is he jabbering about? Will he, they press on regardless, will he now affirm that all he earlier professed to affirm was all Paddy Flaherty.
— Yes, he affirms it, it was all untrue.
— What, they wonder, is it that he receives for his false swearing all the time?
He tells them that he gets nothing for it. It amounts to nothing in pounds or pence; not as much as the price of a drink or the cost of a pair of trousers.
The four find this a little hard to swallow. Was he not at least promised some booze, surely, draught or in bottles, at the Raven and Sugarloaf?
— He was. He admits it.
— Well then, is he aware now or was he then aware that one of the two men involved in the wedding-day struggle he has just described was accused of a certain offence or offences? Does he know that he, the self-same man, had an ancestor who hailed from the North of Ireland?
Yawn is noncommittal.
The gospellers remind him that this is no laughing matter: can he not distinguish right from wrong, truth and untruth? Perhaps he is suffering from homosexual cathexis of empathy between narcissism of the extrovert and steatopygic invertedness? Maybe it's time he had himself psychoanalysed?
Yawn assures them that he can psychoanalyse himself any time he wants to. He needs no nurse's sympathy from them.
Asked for a sample, he says that it is a possible reflection that the evil that is chosen may perhaps lead somehow to good towards the generality.
But he is avoiding the issue. They ask him if it has dawned on him that the deponent, Humphrey, may have been as much sinned against as sinning.
Speaking now as a pseudo-logician and Kantian (as Treacle Tom, one of the tramps already encountered in Part I) Yawn explains that he, Tom, and Frisky Shorty, an intimate of his, were, along with a couple of others, just arguing friendly-like down at the local and having a natter with Hosty about the bisexualism of the particular old party (HCE) and about the two maids he was implicated with and the three troopers and all that when someone sagely pointed out that odd behaviour of that class is nothing if not the norm among fishes of all sorts.
All this talk of fishes and copulation irritates the irascible interrogators. To Hell and Barbados with Yawn and his herrings! He is obsessed, they tell him, so he is. But one of them hasn't quite caught Yawn's drift: was it — the fish he was speaking of — was it a pike (esox lucius) or a salmon (salmo ferax)? This Persse O'Reilly, was he not spawning ova and fry all over the place; nothing short of a bloody fish himself?
The four encourage Hosty, who has emerged once again from Yawn, to sing again his well-known rann about O'Reilly, the human thunder-fish. This version of the ballad is similar in intent, though considerably shorter in extent, than its prototype, and its recitation promotes in the old voyeurs a kind of glee as they picture themselves as four fishermen, a box of anglers, on the bank of the Liffey eagerly, if not frantically, trying to land the eely Earwicker.
To revert to their questions, who were these three troopers or guards of whom Yawn spoke? Were they coexistent and co-present with or without their tertium quid?
— They were, Yawn particularises, three in one, one and three: Shem, Shaun, and the shame that sunders them.
— Indeed; but what about the two girls?
— HCE was larking about in the park, Yawn says, the old offender, with two barmaids that time, as he is given to understand. One of the pretty pair was lost in self-admiration and mesmerised by her reflection in the brook.
Mention of Isolde compels her voice(s) to surface in the medium. She is, characteristically, talking to herself.
— Listen, dearest! Of course I know, you're a very wicked girl. Still you do look lovely. My, you do. Listen, sweet; there's only the two of us. Of course it was downright wicked of him, now, really it was. Still, listen, me and you will make it up. To forgive is divine. Nobody will ever know. So dearest, be free with me, you wicked beauty you, and I'll be true to you.
The four are nonplussed. One moment now! How is this at all at all? This young lady, is she by herself? What exactly is she doing? Is she having a conversation with the apparition of herself?
The interlocutor is taxed with talking out of turn. There are more pressing questions to be asked and answered. For example, did the inspector find more than sixteen percent of chalk in the pure flour of HCE's host-body? They are here to find out. Have the two generals, who were getting the nose-money and stirring up public opinion, have they got their service books in order and duly signed after leaving their last station? How did McGrath and the man charging him come into lawful possession of the barrel of wash? Where were the three doughboys making for with their hands in their pockets, contrary to military rules, when they were confronted by the life-size obstruction of Earwicker carrying the coffin on his back? And with regard to the suspicious-looking parcel, why was HCE carrying it, his ark, an egg-shaped fuselage, on his back in the first place instead of sitting in it? Is it a fact that HCE is the owner of a circus? And has he really made vehement complaints to the police barracks and applied for an order of certiorari to the effect that he had been molested by offers of vacancies inside of a week from females in the city, chasing after him since they first saw his photograph in the newspapers? And was it truly he that made his son to go out in his bare feet to buy a jar of porter and put it down before his missus with the fireman's helmet on her, telling her HCE said she was to have that and to mind the house while he himself was out with his lager-loving cronies rampaging along the roads?
The four, fed up with ambiguous answers, demand to speak with the constable or auxiliary policeman that saw the whole occurrence, Sigurdsson. The cop's voice duly sounds, quoting a fragment of Ibsen, but he is not very informative.
The frustrated questioners therefore decide that enough is enough and ask instead for Kate the Swab, cantankerous Kitty the Beads, the char of Castleknock, who speaks through Yawn to say that, among other things, she massaged HCE's mussels for him on the kitchen table, prepared his meals for him, kneaded his dough and baked his bread, and, after doing all this and more again, didn't she go and dance for him at his woebegone wake.
By now, however, the four old men have heard quite enough about the elusive Earwicker. What they want at this exhausted point is a final word to remove all doubt. They want to hear from the old man himself. So they call down into the prostrate Yawn:
— Ho! Speak, evildoer! Arise, ghost! As long as you live there'll be no other! Doff your mask!
III§3B: Haveth Childers Everywhere, 413.34–431 (532.06–554)
We get at last to hear directly from the old bugger himself. His voice, which had been lying at the bottom of the pool of voices inside Yawn, has been called forth by the four interrogators anxious to hear him explain himself, which he does at length and in detail in his greatest single declaration in Finnegans Wake, with only a few, very brief interruptions by the Four.
Joyce's seed idea for the passage derived from Hester Travers Smith's Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde, a collection of ‘trance-done scripts’ purportedly originating in (the defunct) Oscar Wilde. (Joyce of course casts Wilde as HCE.) Wilde is the ‘Communicator’ who, aided by a ‘Control’, another spirit by whose agency the ‘transmission’ is effected, has returned to communicate with the living to offer wisdom and to beg for sympathy. He writes:
— Pity Oscar Wilde — one who in the world was a king of life dear lady Oscar is speaking again I am infinitely amused by the remarks you all make.
— Old Whitehowth he is speaking again. Ope Eustace tube. Pity poor Whiteoath! Dear gone mumum mummeries, goby! Tell the woyld I have livet through thousand hells. Pity, please, lady, for poor O.W. in this profundust snobbing I have caught dear lady Pity poor Haveth Childers Everywhere with Mudder!
Wilde is also credited (in this spiritualist's discourse) with the following comment on Joyce's Ulysses:
— Shame upon Joyce, shame on his work, shame on his lying soul.
HCE changes this a little, calling for the shame to be transferred to one of the three troopers in the park:
— Shame upon pipip Private M –! Shames on his foulsomeness! Shamus on his atkinscum's lulul lying suulen for an outcast mastiff littered in blood currish!
HCE's remarks about telephone communications with the departed also derive from Smith, who suggests that the substitution of a suitable ‘telephone’ link between this world and the next would eliminate the need for a medium and would result in a clearer line.
Earwicker opens his defence by asserting candidly that he is known throughout the whole English-speaking world as a clean-living man. He flatly denies that he is guilty of criminal conversation (rape) with a young woman named Apples. He has, surely, he begs them realise, no such need, no requirement to act with such cupidity, such lechery — has he not got at home in his own bed the nicest little wife, a woman remarkable in more ways than one, not to mention her physical attractions? Did she not win a consolation prize in a breast contest? He is sorely distressed that the allegations were ever allowed to be made in the first place. Let him assure whoever is out there listening in that there are many today still unclaimed by death who can and will speak out and profess to his cleanest of clean characters. Why, as a boy, a mere school-boy, one of his burning ambitions was to be a priest! Both before and after being born his life was exemplary. Let them know that.
Each of the Four comment briefly
HCE return as a very very calm British Broadcasting Company announcer, ‘Big Big Calm’, and protests that there is literally not as much as a spoonful of real evidence at the bottom of it to his bad. His sole slanderer, the private, is a barefaced liar to be scorned for the saurian he is. May he never set eyes on his scrawny-looking face again! Why doesn't someone pierce him with a lance or hang him? Was it not he, Humphrey, he and no other, who was granted the extraordinary supererogatory privilege of presenting to the king, as his majesty sat calmly on his big big horse, the keys of the city with the simple plain words:
— Shake hands! Congratulations, Majesty!
He puts it to them: is it not incredible that a man of his social status should have to put up with the likes of it? The whole rat's nest of slander is surely barely conceivable. It is too low, the lowest, surely to God, in all recorded history.
The Four interrupt again to ask him who he is and what's wrong with him and pass the fish for God's sake.
He pipes up to say that he is currently the disembodied spirit of Old Whitehead. Oscar Wilde. He implores their pity, bemoaning his inability any longer to engage passionately with the living world, he of all people, Greeker than the Greeks, once such a lover of the flesh, a sybarite, an aesthete among aesthetes, now alas no more than a shifting, bodiless, bloodless wraith. Do they not understand? He urges them to tell the whole world that he has lived through a thousand hells. Dear lady, he addresses them, begging their commiseration, behold: his hair has gone grey, he is an ancient at thirty-nine years of age, his memory fails him, he is feeble in limb, deaf as an adder. He implores them to judge a tree by its fruit, not by its leaf. Pity me!
A new voice beams in to report that the last speaker was Communicator and that we can expect at any moment quite another voice to telephone through with messages from the departed. Chuckling, he offers to cheer up old passed-on Oscar.
— Hello, Communicator? How's the body?
The poor man, the interloper explains in reference to Oscar's misfortunes, he was stricken with indigestion. Bad food, you know. One simply must have sympathy: one day dining with the toffs, the following day bronchial in an almshouse. But despite all his travails, does the old familiar Communicator not still retain the musical ring in his voice, what, and do the lips not hold still their once-scarlet tint? It's just that the hair has turned silver. The root cause of his trouble, the voice explains, was his having had to be sent to prison on account of what he did.
Speaking more or less directly as HCE, Yawn abruptly and disjointedly confesses. He admits to openly baring his background, his whole. If given the opportunity he would be only too happy to protest in a court of law. Whatever happened, it happened during the merest fraction of a second of weakness. It cannot and will not recur. He is man enough to take it on the chin, pay and pay in full whatever is the legal price for his conduct. Here! (He extends a signed cheque as a token of his sincerity.) But, sinner as he may well seem to be, he refuses to countenance the vile suggestion that he ever bought or sold, alone or with others, a black female slave. Good heavens! The very idea! Perfectly abominable! He would not stoop that low, by God. Not even for cash. So help him, Christ, he means it.
He asks the four prosecutors to act like the gentlemen they are and acknowledge the sheer absurdity of the imputations. He would not know the two girls from Adam. How could he? If they insist he will put himself on oath and publicly testify to his clear conscience. He has learned his lesson and, honestly, is now doing his level best. Has he not said that he abhors himself vastly? That he repents. And, whether or not there is any truth in it, can they not see that he had to do it and that he did it in that understanding.
The remainder of the section is given over to HCE's beautiful and extended description of the evolution of the metropolis of Dublin. Whatever his failings, his all-too-human failings, did he not built a city for her, for his beloved wife. What further justification need he offer?
He ends on a high, boasting of horses and jockeys and riding sidesaddle and ladies behind till the ass gets excited and kicks up and brays to the four of them:
— Mattahah! Marahah! Luahah! Joahanahanahana!