Monday, 28 January 2019

James Joyce (1882 - 1941) - Irish writer and poet

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce  was born in Dublin on 2nd February 1882.  He was educated at a school run by the Christian Brothers and then attended the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere. He then studied at University College Dublin.

James, who was a pacifist, spent the First World War in Switzerland, where he wrote this poem which was inspired by ‘Mr. Martin J. Dooley’, a satirical literary personage invented by the American journalist, Chicago-born Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936). 


Who is the man when all the gallant nations run to war
Goes home to have his dinner by the very first cablecar
And as he eats his cantelope contorts himself in mirth
To read the blatant bulletins of the rulers of the earth?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The coolest chap our country ever knew
‘They are out to collar
The dime and dollar’
Says Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the funny fellow who declines to go to church
Since pope and priest and parson left the poor man in the lurch
And taught their flocks the only way to save all human souls
Was piercing human bodies through with dumdum bulletholes?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The mildest man our country ever knew
‘Who will release us
From jingo Jesus’
Prays Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the meek philosopher who doesn’t care a damn
About the yellow peril or problem of Siam
And disbelieves that British Tar is water from life’s fount
And will not gulp the gospel of the German on the Mount?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The broadest brain our country ever knew
‘The curse of Moses
On both your houses’
Cries Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the cheerful imbecile who lights his long chibouk
With pages of the pandect, penal code and Doomsday Book
And wonders why bald justices are bound by law to wear
A toga and a wig made out of someone else’s hair?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The finest fool our country ever knew
‘They took that toilette
From Pontius Pilate’
Thinks Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the man who says he’ll go the whole and perfect hog
Before he pays the income tax or license for a dog
And when he licks a postage stamp regards with smiling scorn
The face of king or emperor or snout of unicorn?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The wildest wag our country ever knew
‘O my poor tummy
His backside gummy!’
Moans Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the tranquil gentleman who won’t salute the State
Or serve Nebuchadnezzar or proletariat
But thinks that every son of man has quite enough to do
To paddle down the stream of life his personal canoe?
It’s Mr Dooley,
Mr Dooley,
The wisest wight our country ever knew
‘Poor Europe ambles
Like sheep to shambles’
Sighs Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.

James Joyce, 1916.

James Joyce died on 13th January 1941.

Source:  Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p.183.  According to Reilly, James Joyce’s “Critical Writings” edited by Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellman and published by Faber & Faber in 1959, included the poem “Dooleysprudence”, written in 1916 when James Joyce was in Switzerland ‘offensively neutral’.  The poem reflects his pacifist irritation with both sides in the war.  This poem was not included in his “Collected Poems” published in 1936.

Photograph of James Joyce in 1918 - photographer unknown.