Morning with the Dead of North Dublin

Morning with the Dead of North Dublin

Some scattered thoughts:

I don’t know whether all boys have the same liking for horrors which I am conscious of having possessed—I only know that I liked the churchyard, and deciphering tombstones, and watching the labours of the sexton, and hearing the old world village talk that often got up over the relics.

–Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu,
The House by the Churchyard (1863), “Prologue”


The dead of Dublin #cemetery #Dublin

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On my first morning in Dublin,
I went to meet the dead.
On the day before Walpurgisnacht,
I heard rain fall on slabs on stone.
I smelled the grass of Glasnevin,
And from the cooing of pigeons nestled among the crypts
I heard the ghosts cry out.
The nearby magpies, meanwhile, seemed to mock me,
Or were they mocking the dead who dared reach out
And communicate with cowboy Chris?
De Valera is there, still stoic and serious,
And Michael Collins is still smiling as wide as the day he died.
And those who fell when famine came gave their thanks
By sending me sunny days in merry May
That made my journey all the more joyous.

Look about you, and say what is it you see that does not foretel famine—famine—famine! Doesn’t the dark wet day, an’ the rain, rain, rain, foretel it? Doesn’t the rotten’ crops, the unhealthy air, an’ the green damp foretel it? Doesn’t the sky without a sun, the heavy clouds, an’ the angry fire of the West, foretel it? Isn’t the airth a page of prophecy, an’ the sky a page of prophecy, where every man may read of famine, pestilence, an’ death? The airth is softened for the grave, an’ in the black clouds of heaven you may see the death-hearses movin’ slowly along—funeral afther funeral—funeral afther funeral—an’ nothing to folly them but lamentation an’ wo, by the widow an’ orphan—the fatherless, the motherless, an’ the childless—wo an’ lamentation—lamentation an’ wo.”

William Carleton,
The Black Prophet: a Tale of Irish Famine (1847), Ch. II.


Sun and rain among the dead, #Cemetery #Ireland #Dublin

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Thrice Joyce: A Third Reading of “Dubliners”

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This was my third time to do so, and it’s probably been five or more years since the last reading. The first two times were bittersweet, except for “The Dead,” which is, of course, perfect.

As a reader trying to be a writer, I was particularly drawn this time around to “A Little Cloud” with its themes of paralysis and procrastination and daydreaming reminiscent of Thurber’s “Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

“A Painful Case” also struck me, particularly that last paragraph, and that line “He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him.” To me this means that, by the end of the story, for Duffy, Mrs. Emily Sinico, the woman who has died, has now become the memory of a memory for him.


Slick Phrases from Joyce that caught my eyes and ears:

“glad of the dark stupor that would cover his folly” (After the Race)

“Deep energetic gallantries” (Two Gallants)

“bet your bottom dollar” (A Little Cloud)

“slake the thirst” (Counterparts)

“the inane expression of sympathy” (A Painful Case)

“keen pang of lust” (The Dead)

“heliotrope envelope” (The Dead)