The Annotated "Ulysses"/Page 005

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Scutter, he cried thickly.

He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into Stephen’s upper
pocket, said:

Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.

Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a
dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then,
gazing over the handkerchief, he said:

The bard’s noserag. A new art colour for our Irish poets : snotgreen.
You can almost taste it, can’t you?

He mounted to the parapet again and gazed out over Dublin bay, his fair
oakpale hair stirring slightly.

God, he said quietly. Isn’t the sea what Algy calls it : a great sweet
mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton.
Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks. I must teach you. You must read them in the
original. Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet mother. Come and look.

Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet. Leaning on it he looked down
on the water and on the mailboat clearing the harbour mouth of Kingstown.

Our mighty mother, Buck Mulligan said.

He turned abruptly his great searching eyes from the sea to Stephen’s face.

The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said. That’s why she
won’t let me have anything to do with you.

Someone killed her, Stephen said gloomily.

You could have knelt down, damn it, Kinch, when your dying mother
asked you, Buck Mulligan said. I’m hyperborean as much as you. But to
think of your mother begging you with her last breath to kneel down and pray
for her. And you refused. There is something sinister in you…

He broke off and lathered again lightly his farther cheek. A tolerant
smile curled his lips.

But a lovely mummer, he murmured to himself. Kinch, the loveliest
mummer of them all.

He shaved evenly and with care, in silence, seriously.

Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against
his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coatsleeve. Pain,
that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she
had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown
graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had
bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the



Swinburne, who calls the sea this in his poem The Triumph of Time

Epi oinopa ponton

Greek: Over the wine-dark sea, a phrase from Homer's Odyssey.

Thalatta! Thalatta!

Greek: The sea! The sea!. The cry of the 10,000 greeks when they see the sea again after a march, from Xenophon's Anabasis.


In Greek mythology the Hyperboreans were a mythical people who lived far to the north.