Sunday, November 1, 2015

"End here."

(627.4-628.16)  After noticing HCE's change, ALP knows that her time is up.  Just as he is being replaced by the sons, she is being replaced by her daughter.  "Be happy, dear ones!" she says.  "May I be wrong!  For she'll be sweet for you as I was sweet when I came down out of me mother."  ALP, the great river-mother, could have stayed in her childhood bedroom in the sky, yet she dropped down to earth for us.  "First we feel," she says.  "Then we fall."  

"And let her rain now if she likes," ALP goes on, granting her royal crown to Isabel, who will now reign.  "Gently or strongly as she likes.  Anyway let her rain for my time is come.  I done me best when I was let."  ALP has grown weary of the world and her planet of children, who she says are "becoming lothed to me."  HCE, she says, is not the regal man she once thought she was, but rather a bumpkin.  "I thought you the great in all things, in guilt and in glory," she tells him.  "You're but a puny."  Worn out from bearing her burden, she is "[l]oonely in me loneness."  She'll slip away before the children wake up.  "They'll never see," she says.  "Nor know.  Nor miss me."

As we turn to the final page of Finnegans Wake, it is time for ALP to return to her "cold mad feary father," the great sea.  She only has one leaf left from those that fell on her from the trees (the last leaf, or page, of the Wake, McHugh notes).  She'll carry that leaf to remind her of everything that we've seen pass.  Perhaps she'll see HCE, the great father, appear "under whitespread wings like he'd come from Arkangels."  If he did, she says, "I sink I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup" on the shore.

"End here," says ALP in the book's final lines.  "Us then.  Finn, again!"  As she dissolves into the sea, she is given the "keys," both to her heart and to heaven, and sings a song of her (and our) travels:  "A way a lone a last a loved a long the"

And with those words, the journey has ended.  I can now say that I've read Finnegans Wake.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"How glad you'll be I waked you!"

(625.8-627.4)  And so I've reached the penultimate passage of this project.  ALP's monologue becomes clearer as the day grows brighter.  Outside, she can see "the muchrooms, come up during the night."  Dublin ("Eblanamagna") can be seen "loomening up out of the dumblynass," although it's "still sama sitta" (the same city, and, as Tindall points out, the same shit).  McHugh notes that the Liffey went completely dry for a minute or two in 1452, a fact that gives added dimension to ALP's instruction to HCE:  "If I lose my breath for a minute or two don't speak, remember!  Once it happened, so it may again."  

Looking back on her life, ALP has had her share of suffering and sadness, and she mourns the dead.  "Why I'm all these years within years in soffran, allbeleaved," she says.  "To hide away the tear, the parted.  It's thinking of all.  The brave that gave their.  The fair that wore.  All them that's gunne."  But, she says, "I'll begin again in a jiffey."  And when her life and her river begin to flow again, HCE will be rejuvenated as well:  "My!  How well you'll feel!  For ever after."

As the wind blows outside ("Wrhps, that wind as if out of norewere!"), ALP once again thinks about the past, when she met HCE as a child and they began their courtship.  "How you said how you'd give me the keys of me heart," she remembers.  "And we'd be married till delth to uspart.  And though dev do espart.  O mine!"  She senses, that HCE is changing now, though.  For a moment, she thinks it might be her that's changing ("I'm getting mixed," she says), but then it becomes clear:  "Yes, you're changing, sonhusband, and you're turning, I can feel you, for a daughterwife from the hills again."  HCE, whose position is being replaced by his sons, is undergoing another metamorphosis, and it's just in time for the Wake to conclude (and begin again).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Ourselves, oursouls alone."

(623.3-625.8)  A quick note on the title of this post:  Throughout the Wake, Joyce makes frequent reference to (and parody of) the slogan of Sinn Féin (and the movement), which is popularly translated as "Ourselves Alone" (but perhaps is more accurately translated as just "Ourselves").  It's used in a variety of contexts, but I particularly like this one, which applies it in a way that illustrates the depth and us-against-the-world nature of the marriage of HCE and ALP:  "Ourselves, oursouls alone."

Today's reading continues in the same tone and manner as the previous two.  Thinking about what she and HCE could do today, ALP imagines that they could go to Howth Castle (where the book begins!) to see the king, or "the Old Lord."  He has been well-received by the Earwickers before, so he's likely to greet them warmly.  She tells the still-sleeping HCE that if he behaves himself and if ALP is successful in her role as a polite Prankquean, the king might "knight you an Armor elsor daub you the first cheap magyerstrape."  But she recognizes that these are "[p]lain fancies" from a brain "full of sillymottocraft."  "Aloof is anoof," she says.  "We can take or leave."

Instead, the two can go to the coast and wait for ALP's letter (now stuffed in a bottle and cast into the water) to arrive ashore.  This thought prompts her to remember her youthful days, before she met HCE, when she wrote this version of the letter and dreamed of meeting the man of her dreams (the "mains of me draims").  She wrote about these hopes in the letter, but "buried the page" when she met HCE.  Now, she is merely content as they "cohabit respectable."  She kind of gives HCE a hard time, telling him to complete the Tower of Babel that this master-builder has always said he'd complete.  "Tilltop, bigmaster!" she teases.  "Scale the summit!  You're not so giddy any more.  All your graundplotting and the little it brought!"  She's made a home on this "limpidy marge" in Chapelizod.  "Park and a pub for me," she says, summing up her life.

She then goes back to the days of their courtship.  "You will always call me Leafiest, won't you, dowling?" she remembers telling HCE, her "Wordherfhull Ohldhbhoy!"  He may come from dubious origins (she herself doesn't seem entirely sure of his past), but she tells him that "you done me fine!"  After all, he's "[t]he only man was ever known could eat the crushts of lobsters."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"I could lead you there and I still by you in bed."

(621.8-623.3)  "It is the softest morning that ever I can ever remember me," says ALP as her final monologue resumes in today's reading.  Her speech proceeds in the same relaxed, meandering tone that it began with in the previous two pages.  This is beautiful prose, and it's shaping up to be a fitting ending for the Wake (a book for which I had been thinking it might be impossible to write a good ending).

The rain for the day will not begin, ALP says, until the proper time has come.  She looks forward to breakfast ("The trout will be so fine at brookfisht.") just as she imagines how well the fish will be doing at a certain point in the river.  She has a list of things for HCE to take care of in this new day (for instance, he has to buy her a new girdle when he goes to the market).  For now, though, she's content to let him sleep beside her in bed (where she notably reaches down for a moment to grab his penis).  "One time you told you'd been burnt in ice," she remembers as she thinks about the trials HCE has endured, including a Tim Finnegan-esque fall from a ladder.  "And one time it was chemicalled after you taking a lifeness.  Maybe that's why you hold your hodd as if.  And people thinks you missed the scaffold.  Of fell design."  Despite his scars, ALP still remembers HCE as a young man, and she treasures the youth that remains in him, or at least exists in the past.  "I'll close me eyes," she says.  "So not to see.  Or see only a youth in his florizel, a boy in innocence, peeling a twig, a child beside a weenywhite steed.  The child we all love to place our hope in forever."  She chooses to focus on these good moments of HCE's life, rather than the bad, for, as she says, "All men has done something."

As she imagines taking a morning walk with her husband, ALP can see the birds wishing HCE "sweet good luck."  She believes that in the next election, HCE will be redeemed ("elicted") and that his enemies will "never reduce me."  Going back to the thought of the walk ("A gentle motion all around.  As leisure paces."), she recalls previous times of happiness from before the previous dark night/era of their lives.  "It seems so long since, ages since," she says.  "As if you had been long far away.  Afartodays, afeartonights, and me as with you in thadark."  But even as they rest in bed, she will return him to those good times, at least until the enemies come attacking again, pursuing HCE, as they did once before, like a fox in a fox hunt with "his three poach dogs" (the three soldiers) "aleashing him."  But ALP concludes today's reading by noting that HCE "came safe through" that attack, and she implies that he will do the same again today.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"I am leafy speafing."

(619.20-621.8)  I've now officially hit the home stretch in this project.  The final paragraph of Finnegans Wake begins on page 619 and stretches almost nine full pages to the book's end.  I've got a busy week coming up here, so I may not be able to meet my goal of finishing by the end of the month.  If I don't, though, I'll finish for sure on Sunday, which is November 1.  I think Joyce would be pleased with me finishing the Wake either on Halloween or All Saints' Day.

On to the text.  The final paragraph begins with light finally shining down on Dublin:  "Soft morning, city!"  Our narrator for the rest of the book is ALP, who tells us, "I am leafy speafing" (she's both Anna Livia and the River Liffey).  It is silent around the house and city.  "Not a sound, falling," she says.  "Lispn!  No wind no word.  Only a leaf, just a leaf and then leaves."

She tells HCE, who is on the bed beside her, to wake up:  "Rise up, man of the hooths, you have slept so long!  Or is it only so mesleems?  On your pondered palm.  Reclined from cape to pede."  ALP says that there's "a great poet" in HCE, but lately he has "bored me to slump."  Still, they're both "good and rested."  She gathers his clothes, which have freshly arrived from the laundry and once again urges him to wake up:  "And stand up tall!  Straight.  I want to see you looking fine for me."  She says that HCE reminds her "of a wonderdecker I once," a man who was perhaps one of her old lovers or someone who featured prominently in her dream of the previous evening (she calls back to figures featured throughout the Wake, like Wellington, "the Iren duke's").  The children are still sleeping, for there's "no school today."  The boys are "so contrairy," and take too much after HCE, it seems:  "When one of him sighs or one of him cries 'tis you all over.  No peace at all."  We learn that HCE desperately wanted a daughter:  "[W]hat you wouldn't give to have a girl!  Your wish was mewill.  And, lo, out of a sky!"  ALP says that her and HCE won't "disturb their sleeping duties," but it's time for them to journey into the day.  "Come!" she says.  "Step out of your shell!"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"erect, confident and heroic"

(617.30-619.19)  Much of the last half of ALP's letter is devoted to bringing us up to speed on what's happening in her part of Dublin and to correcting misconceptions.  A woman named Lily Kinsella has married a man named Mr. Sneakers.  She bought a bottle of medicine, which may or may not have been used to poison HCE.  "We are advised the waxy is at present in the Sweeps hospital and that he may never come out!" ALP notes.  If we look through our "leatherbox," we will one day see a postcard depicting the scene, with Lily on a sofa as HCE would "begin to jump a little bit to find out what goes on when love walks in besides the solicitous bussness by kissing and looking into a mirror."

ALP asserts that she was not treated poorly by the police when they investigated HCE's death.  The family was never "chained to a chair," and she says that "no widower whother soever followed us about with a fork on Yankskilling Day."  She would, however, like to lodge a complaint against a seargeant Laraseny that would cause his health to be "constably broken into potter's pance."  

After crediting "Adam, our former first Finnlatter" for "his beautiful crossmess parzel," which contained cakes, ALP concludes her letter on a hopeful note.  "Hence we've lived in two worlds," she says.  In one world, a version of HCE is buried under the Hill of Howth:  "He is another he what stays under the himp of holth."  In the other world, the legitimate (and perhaps new) HCE will wake:  "The herewaker of our hameframe is his real namesame who will get himself up and erect, confident and heroic when but, young as of old, for my daily comfreshenall, a wee one of woos."

ALP signs her letter "Alma Luvia, Pollabella."  In a postscript, she notes that she's "about fetted up now" and "[w]orns out."  Apparently the night in the Wake has not fully refreshed her.  I, however, am fairly well refreshed, and excited to tackle the final ten pages of the Wake beginning tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Kingen will commen. Allso brewbeer."

(615.11-617.29)  Consistent with what we've seen before, this version of ALP's letter can be rambling, and shifts direction many times throughout the course of today's passage.  Campbell and Robinson do a nice job of listing out the various subjects covered in the letter, so I won't try to replicate their work here.  

The letter, which is addressed to "Reverend," finds ALP at "Dirtdump" (both the dump near Phoenix Park and "Dear Dirty Dublin") and often seems to be about the Wake itself.  She says that "we have frankly enjoyed more than anything these secret workings of natures" and "was really so denighted of this lights time."  Like the night, the Wake is soon to be over:  "Yon clouds will soon disappear looking forwards at a fine day."  She remembers her time with HCE, such as when they rode "on the top of the longcar, as merrily we rolled along," and she pictures him now "looking at us yet as if to pass away in a cloud."

She warns off HCE's detractors and attackers multiple times, like when she says, "Sneakers in the grass, keep off!"  Past moments from the book are hinted at, and HCE's demise is doubly traced to the pipe-smoking Cad's attack and Buckley's shot:  "For a pipe of twist or a slug of Hibernia metal we could let out and, by jings, someone would make a carpus of somebody with the greatest of pleasure by private shootings."  Now that HCE is dead, he is invulnerable to both physical and lyrical attacks:  "Once you are balladproof you are unperceable to haily, icy and missilethroes."

Over the course of the evening, ALP explains, the sons have changed roles.  "Tomothy and Lorcan, the bucket Toolers, both are Timsons now they've changed their characticuls during their blackout."  As they ascend to their new roles in the family and world, music is prepared for HCE's "fooneral," which "will sneak pleace by creeps o'clock toosday."  It will be a grand affair:  "Kingen will commen.  Allso brewbeer."  Among the attendees will be Isabel's 28 classmates and the 12 patrons of HCE's pub ("from twentyeight to twelve," a phrase which doubles as the time the ceremonies will commence).  "Don't forget!" emphasizes ALP.  "The grand fooneral will now shortly occur.  Remember.  The remains must be removed before eaght hours shorp.  With earnestly conceived hopes.  So help us to witness to this day to hand in sleep."