Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't you play the giddy ox with me! (Joyce, King)

One of the ways I am trying to trick myself into finally reading James Joyce's Great Modern Novel Ulysses all the way through is by imaging that I will later score selections of it.

You know, the good parts. The parts, that is, that are good in isolation. Or would make good rock lyrics.

Here is one bit. On the page, this passage is two paragraphs. I will punctuate it like a lyric sheet.

And to think of your having to beg
from these swine. I'm the only one
that knows what you are.
Why don't you trust me more?
What have you up your nose against me?
Is it Haines? If he makes any noise here
I'll bring down Seymour
and we'll give him a ragging
worse than they gave Clive Kempthorpe.

Young shouts of moneyed voices
in Clive Kempthorpe's rooms.
Palefaces: they hold their ribs with laughter,
one clasping another
O, I shall expire!
Break the news to her gently,
Aubrey! I shall die

With slit ribbons of his shirt
whipping the air he hops
and hobbles round the table,
with trousers down at heels,
chased by Ades of Magdalen
with the tailor's shears

A sacred calf's face
gilded with marmalade
I don't want to be debagged!
Don't you play the giddy ox with me!

Half of this is Buck Mulligan bellowing at Stephen Dedalus, and the other half Dedalus' memories of (apparently) boys shouting. All that shouting begs to be shouted out in a rock song. I expect I'll use that last line as an outro refrain, then make that the song title: "Don't you play the giddy ox with me!"

My friend and songwriting partner Tim McAvin has a great song with "ox" in the title. Meghan Gohil recorded Tim playing it many years ago at The Senate apartment building in St. Louis, when we recorded Tim's contributions to the Blind Cat Black poetry score.

Tim told me the imagery in this song is based (if I recall correctly) on a Longfellow poem, so it, too, is a poetry score!

Free mp3

"The Ox"
(Tim McAvin)
Tim McAvin


Ox image from somebody's blog.

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