Chapter 8

 

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Pages: 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216

 

In which two washerwomen, washing clothes in the Liffey, discuss the fall of HCE and the origins of Anna in a gossip-style narrative. The story also incorporates a description the River Liffey beginning in the mountains, its descent (or fall) down onto the plain and then to Dublin, where it gives the gift of life (and presents from the past) to the inhabitants. The chapter contains many references to other parts FW, and also suggests that the two women in the Park were sent to HCE by Anna, that she herself was first made love to by a cleric, the Father Michael of others parts of the Wake, and explains the connection between the older Anna and Kate.

 

P. 196

 

O tell me about Anna Livia Plurabelle [a junior washer woman speaking to an older – it’s sometimes difficult to determine which is which…].

 

Older: Well you know when HCE did ‘you know what’…

Younger: Yes, go on, start talking.

Older: Or whatever it was the three [soldiers] tried to say he did to the two girls in Phoenix Park. He has a terrible reputation, Look at the dirt on his shirt! My washing water has gone black. So many times have I washed it. I know by heart where it will be soiled, the dirty devil! Burning my hands and starching myself cleaning his linen.

Younger: What was it he did Holy Sunday? And how long was he under lock and key?

Older: It was in the news, the Crown vs Humphrey, for illicit distilling. O, the rough old rope! Mixing marriage and making love.

 

P. 197

 

The court stewards were confused by him [?]. And the cut of his clothes! And his strutting! How he used to hold his head as high as Howth, the famous old duke, with a hump of grandeur much like the arch of a weasel’s back. His accent was from Derry but his blather was from Cork, but his stutter was from Dublin, and his swank came from Galway.

Younger: And what did they call him?

Older: Huge Caput Earlyfouler [HCE, also refers to early kings]

Younger: Where did he come from?

Older: Ireland or Scandinavia. Or from the Huns. 

Younger: Was he her blacksmith or just filled her pail? Were their marriage bans not published in Adam and Eve’s church, or were they married by a ship’s captain?

Older: For my other half I thee take, like a river and a mountain together they lived, hoping for a happy Christmas. She has her license to play [in bed] and if they don’t be merry, that you and I may. Pass me another [item of clothing] and ask me another question!

Younger: Was he insured against burglars, two and three parties risk? [Two girls and three soldiers]  I heard he ransomed Anna in Dublin, where he captured her, raped and kept her in a parakeet’s cage, playing cat and mouse all along the river (if only a policeman had been there to shoot him!).

Older: Who told you that tale? In a boat he set out across the Hibernian Ocean till he saw land [like Tristan?] and let out two birds [like Noah], like a Phoenician sailor. Guided by the smell of the kelp the birds found the Liffey mouth [Pigeonhouse]. The merchant seaman followed them, his cloak flying in the breeze, until his prow burst through the sand bar. That’s when the whale began chasing his fish! Tune…

 

P. 198

 

.. your pipes and start humming [washing]!

Younger: Well, tell me soon and stop the frothing.   

Older: When they saw him shooting up the Liffey, the bulls began roaring. He hard-earned his wife, this trader, with the sweat of his brow. He was called a child of the sea, Waterbourne, the water baby [Moses]. HCE has a codfish eye [Bloom, roaming eye]. She was nearly as bad as him herself.

Younger: Who? Anna Livia?

Older: Anna Livia. Did you know she was calling water-girls to go to him and tickle him, easy over? [two girls in Phoenix Park]

Younger: She was? Isn’t that just the limit! Tell me all, I want to hear how she was left to one side.

Older: In a rabbit’s wink, after he fell [for the girls]. Letting on she didn’t care, that she was absent and he a man with passions, she was like a ‘proxinette’.

Younger: And what is that? None of your Russian or Hindu jargon! Tell us in plain language.

Older: Did they not teach you at school? It is if I was to go by telekinesis and impersonate you [proxy, approximate – sends the girls in her place].

Younger: Is that what she is? I didn’t think she was that low.

Older: Did you see her in her window in her chair, pretending to play a fiddle? She can’t play a fiddle.

Younger: Tell me more!

Older: Well old Humphrey was as glum as a grandpa, with the weeds at the door, and plague, and no-one daring to showing a lamp in a kitchen or a church, and holes appearing in the street, and deadly mushrooms appearing on the hero’s tomb, and weeds growing on the great tribune’s grave mound, sitting on his seat, dreaming away, questioning himself, and checking for…

 

P. 199

 

…births and deaths in the papers, not defending himself as the guttersnipes worked on him, not eating, fearing his fate, dreaming into the night in his black stockings and wide breeches and with the birds and pests [?] about him, wondering whether Dublin was worth the bother. You would think he was extinct, such was his trance. And there was Anna Livia, not sleeping at all, prowling around like a child in a summer dress with her damsel-fair cheeks, to say hello to him. With chips and salt from his girlfriends. She would cook him fish and eggs and bacon on toast, serve him a cup of tea or coffee, black with sugar, or a pewter of ale, and rye bread with ham, and in pleasing him, her health began to fail, her joints shook with gout, and as fast as she’d rush with her armload of victuals, he’d cast them away with scorn, as much as to say ‘you so and so’, but the only harm he could do her was if he let the plate drop on her toes. Then she’d whistle a hymn. But she sounded like a hen on the Tower of Babel. And not a word from Humphrey.

Younger: Is that a fact?

Older: It is. Then writing the right and royal romance [also a sense of ‘riding’ HCE after he’s ‘entranced’ – Osiris/III.4], it was Anna, born aristocrat, Livia, daughter of Sense and Art, with her sparkling fan and frost-covered tresses speckled with fireflies…

 

P. 200

 

…in a jade gown that would cover two chairs.

Younger: Blazes Kate! These purple patches!

Older: And lowing to him down his feed pipe [coming out of his tomb?] ‘Please don’t die’! Do you know what she started asking him? You’ll never guess. ‘Tell me, O tell me, as I loved you better than you could know.’ And he replied, ‘I do like those younger girls’, and so on, in a sonorous tone, so thin in his sandy cloak and deaf as a post.

Younger: Go away! You are only teasing! Anna Livia?

Older: As god is my judge! And didn’t she go and stand in her door, puffing a pipe, and every servant or winsome farmer’s wife [seven rainbow girls] walking on the road she made a sign to slip inside through the door?

Younger: You don’t say?

Older: But I do! She called them in one by one and showed them how to dance suggestively and what a maid does with a man, offering them money.

Younger:  Lordy, did she do that? Throwing all the whores in the world at him!

Older: To have any of the captured wenches he wanted, to have two inside his bed!

Younger: And what was the rhyme she made [the romance she wrote?]! Tell me while I’m lathering the underwear. I dying on my feet until I learn Anna Livia’s rhyme…

 

P. 201

 

which was written by one and read by two and found by a hen in the park!

Older: I can see that you are [dying on your feet].

Younger: How does it turn out?

Older: Are you listening?

Younger: Yes! I am!

Older: This is it…

 

“By earth’s end I need a brand new backside, and a plumper one at that.

 

For mine is worn out waiting for my old Dane, my lifelong companion, the key to our larder, with his camel’s hump hunched-back, for him to wake from his winter’s hibernation and bear down upon me as he used to.

 

Is there another lord of the manor or knight who would slip me some cash for washing and darning his socks now that we’ve run out of oatmeal and milk?

If not for my bed so snug I’d leap out and go visit the beach and taste the salt of the sea wind in my mouth.”

 

Younger: Go on, go on! Tell me every tiny detail.

Older: If the man of the house heard me! It would be like gun-boy meets warrior-girl.

Younger: How many children did she have in tow?

Older: I can’t rightly say. Some say it was in the three figures [Shem, Shaun and Issy] and she had confined herself to 111, one by one by one.

Younger: We won’t have enough room in the church-yard.

Older: She can’t remember half the names she gave them as she smacked them with her slipper. They did well to call her ‘Plurabelle’. But it’s on the cards she’ll have…

 

P. 202

 

more, twins, triplets, even eight or nine to a litter.

Younger: She must have got about in her day, more than most.

Older: Sure she did. She had a few men of her own, before a fall scared that lass!

Younger: Tell me how she went through the fellows, the tease that she was?

Older: She cast herself [pearls] before the lads from one town to another [i.e. as a river]. Linking arms with one and knocking back the next, tapping a flank [dancing, flowing] until she petered out.

Younger: Who was her first lover?

Older: Someone, whether by tactics or combat. Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, pieman [Shem?] or policeman [Shaun?]. That what I ask myself. Work that laundry hard, push harder!

Younger: What are you sighing for? Answer! Untie the knots in the clothes.

Older: As to the first, she can’t place him. Such a long way back to remember [i.e. upstream]. She said herself she hardly knows who laid her first upon the gravel [as rain?], or what he did or who it was gave her away. She was just a slip of a thing then, and he was a lurching layabout, as tough as oak trees, who used to wrestle in Kildare, who first fell for her. She nearly died with shame when he gave her a tiger eye [stone]!

Younger: Oh I wish it was he, but you’re wrong! It was before then, in county…

 

P. 203

 

…Wicklow, the Garden of Eden, she worked for better or worse for all her life in Humphrey’s Dublin. Alas, the last of her girlhood!

Older: Are you certain? Where then does Finn fit in the picture, or where does the Norse [Ship’s captain?] come in. Or where does Shem [donkey?] divert the fairer sex, or where was it she couldn’t make up her mind between Cullin and Conn and Cunn and Collin [Shem/Shaun]? Or Tristan in his boat, or where the three lean [soldiers] bumped up against the two girls?    

Younger: Then where was it in Ire? Was it east or west or where no man has been? Tell me where it happened then, the very first time!

Older: I will if you will listen. Do you know Luggalaw? Well, there once dwelt a hermit, Michael Arklow was this reverend’s name (with many a sigh I’ve washed his lovely bibs), and on one Friday in June or July, when she looked so sweet and limber, with curves you couldn’t stop touching, he plunged his two anointed hands into the saffron-coloured strands of her hair [either head or pubic] as dark and deep as a red bog. The heavenly arches of a rainbow cast an orange light over her. [rain…] Her beautiful blue eyes goading him on to the verge of violation. Make a wish! He could not help himself, he had to forget that he was a monk, rubbing her up and smoothing her down, and he kissed her over and over (as he had warned her never to do), with Anna and her…

 

P. 204

 

freckled forehead. She rose in her own estimation and stepped as though on stilts ever since. [Also a discussion of the source of the Liffey…]

Younger: Wasn’t he the bold priest? And wasn’t she the naughty Livvy?

Two lads in scouts’ breeches went through her before that, Barefoot Burn and William Wade, Wicklow’s noble warriors, before she had a hint of hair on her fanny or a bosom to tempt anyone. And before that again, she was licked by a hound while peeing, but first of all, when very small she slipped away while nurse was asleep and wriggled in all the stagnant black pools of rain and laughed in her innocence, while a row of pale, pink hawthorns looked askance at her.

Younger: Tell the name of the first man’s name, surely somebody knows this. And tell me why was she freckled? And how was her hair done, or was it a wig she wore? Did they drop their gloves in their hurry? Are you in the know or not? O go on, about what you know.

Older: I know what you mean. You like to wash the coifs and veils, and for me to clean old Veronica’s greasy wiping rags.

Younger: What am I rinsing now? Is it a pinny or a surplice?

Older: Where’s your nose?

Younger: And where’s the starch?

Older: That’s not the smell of benediction. I can tell from here that’s the smell of Mrs Magrath [Anna Livia]. They must have come straight off her. She has sinned!

 

P. 205

 

She freed them from her hips easily enough. She’s the only one with frills around here.

Younger: So they are, I declare!

Older: If tomorrow is fine, guess who’ll come sightseeing?

Younger: Who?

Older: The college boys, in their caps and rowing club colours. And here are [Mrs Magrath’s sewn] initials too. L and K [or L and P, Livia Plurabelle] in scarlet thread. And an X [or Anna] after it show they’re not Laura Keown’s. Oh the devil take this safety pin [in the clothes]! You child of Mammon, Lilith Kinsella! Now who would have torn the leg of her drawers?

Younger: Which leg is it?

Older: The one with bells on it.

Younger: Rinse them out and hurry up! [with the story of ALP]

Older: Where did I stop?

Younger: Never stop! Continue! Go on!

 

Older: Well, after it [the sin] was put in the newspaper, the Merry Friendly Mendicant’s Weekly (which everyone read for once, soiling their white gloves, saying ‘show us it here’ and asking when others would be finished), even the snow that fell on HCE’s white hair hated him. Everywhere you went, every pub and tavern, in city and suburb, you found his icon drawn [or turned] upside down, or boys on the corner hitting his effigy, and a pantomime figure of Turko the Terrible [middle eastern god?] (Adam come this way, Fatima take a turn!) now reeled and railed round the local pubs with accompanying pipers and men in tiaras ringing round him eager for his scalp. And…

 

P. 206

 

the rabble around him made a great fracas. Saying, ‘Think of your father! Think of your mother! [Stephen in U?] Hang him!’ Anna swore she’d get even with them all.

Younger: By the pregnant Virgin Mary!

So, she made a plan, the mischief maker, the like of which never has been heard.

Younger: What plan? Tell me quick!

Older: Well, she borrowed a sack, a mailbag, and borrowed a lamp from one of sons, Shaun the Post, then went and consulted her books on history, geometry and fashion, and made herself up to join the masquerade. I can’t begin to tell you, it’s such a laugh!

Younger: But you must! Make me laugh! I swear I’d pledge my chance of getting to heaven to hear it all, every word!

Older: O leave me my senses for a while!

Younger: If you don’t like storytelling [you shouldn’t be telling one…]

Older: Have it your own way.

Younger: Now sit here and do as you’re told. Take your time now. Breathe deep. That’s the way. Lend me your ashes while I scrub the canon’s underpants. Now let it flow.

 

Older: First she let her hair down and let its winding coils fall to her feet. Naked, she shampooed herself. Then greased herself with butterscotch and turpentine and serpent thyme, and with leaf mould drew around her eyes, her sides and body. She put golden wax on her belly [?] and…

 

P. 207

 

…incense. She wove a garland into her hair. She pleated and plaited it from meadow grass and water iris, bulrushes and water plants and weeping willow. She made bracelets, anklet and armlets, with an amulet for a necklace of cobbles and pebbles of Irish runestones, and made shell bangles. That done, with a dab of something to her eyes, she became ‘Annushka Lutetiavitch Pufflovah’, and after applying lipstick and painting her cheeks with strawberry reds and violets, she sent her boudoir maids, two cousins named the Grand Cherry and the Real Kirsch, to see His Affluence [HCE], where they passed on her respects and a request that she might leave him for a few minutes. She said she was going to light a taper in a church and would be back in a moment. The clock struck nine and she said somebody would be waiting for her. Then as soon as HCE’s hunch back was turned, she left with her bag slung over her shoulder.

 

Younger: Describe her! Hurry, why can’t you? Spit on the iron while it’s hot! I must hear! Her calamity electrifies me.

 

Older: No electricity at all, but old Mother Necessity, the mother of engines. Will you sit still and listen to what I’m going to say? It was about 20 to one o’clock on the ninth [?] of April when the door of her house opened and out stepped a bushman woman, the dearest momma you ever saw, nodding and smiling, like a Punch and Judy queen, barely up to your…

 

P. 208

 

…elbow. Picture her and seize her quick for the longer she lives the more slippery she becomes.

Younger: No more? [to tell]

Older: I’m apt to forget. She wore a ploughboy’s nail-studded clogs, with a sugarloaf hat that has a band of gorse for an ornament and a hundred streamers and a gilded pin; she wore thick glasses; and a fishnet veil shaded her from the sun; earrings were buckled to her ears; her skin-toned stockings were spotted; [etc] ; a four penny bit [horse bit?] in each side pocket made sure her coat didn’t blow open in the wind; she had a clothes peg on her nose, and she was chewing something [gum?] and the tail of her drab skirt trailed fifty Irish miles behind her [i.e. as a river].

 

Younger: Hell’s bells, I’m sorry I missed her! But in which of her mouths? Was her nose alright?

 

Older: Everyone who saw her thought she looked a bit queer. They told her to ‘mind out for that puddle’ and ‘missus, don’t fall into the sea!’ A funny poor witch she must have seemed. Making fish eyes at her boy’s Dublin. And they crowned her as their charity queen.

Younger: Queen of the May?

Older: Just as well she couldn’t see herself. I reckon she lost her mirror.

Younger: She did? Mercy!

Older: There was a group of …

 

P. 209

 

…men contemplating the river [ALP], lolling on a wall, and as soon as they saw her meander by in her widows’ weeds and recognised who was under her bonnet, one said to another: either she has had a facelift or Anna is high on dope!  

 

Younger: But what saw she doing with her mail bag? Was it just for the pepper in her pepper pot?

Older: Time and teas and special spices.

Younger: Where did she plunder them from? Was it in the battle or after the ball? I want it from the source. I promise I’ll make it worth your while.

Older: In a wavy line she walked and sidled, dragging her boulder bag through the narrow passes, amongst the seaweed and weeds, not knowing which way to go, like Santa Claus but pale and puny looking for her children, and her arms encircled Issy and running to the reconciled twins Shaun and Shem, with a Christmas present for each of her children, the birthday gifts they dreamt of, the spoiled presents [spoils] she laid at out door! On doormats, by the porch and in cellars. Everyone ran out to see. All about her, girls and boys, from their slums and artisan dwellings. Long live Anna! Thanks Anna for the high life! We cheered…

 

P. 210

 

… or jeered every time she dived into her mail sack and held out the merchandise, some souvenir or keepsake and for reminding us [of times past], wishing all of her children, tinkers and healers, her sons and daughters good luck all 1001 of them. A barrow for Gipsy Lee, a can of soup for Tommy the soldier, some peppermint drops for Pender’s nephew, [a long list of presents from a rubbish heap continues]…

 

P. 211

 

 for Shaun, thought of as little, a crown he considers big; a wooden cross on the back for Sunny Jim [Joyce]… a letter to last a lifetime for the two Maggies by the ashpit [wash pit]…a sunless map of the month with a sword and stamps for Shem and Shaun the Post [stamp of Irish Free State]… whatever you like to swill…

 

P. 212

 

… Guinness or Hennessey, for Festy King, Roaring Peter, Frisky Shorty, Treacle Tom, Behan, Sully the Thug, Master Magrath, Peter Cloran, Delawarr Rossa and whoever else you meet knocking around… But what did she give to Pruda Brosna…Flora Ferns, Fauna Fox-Goodman… Lezba Licking… [27 girls + Issy = 28] She gave each a moonflower and bloodstone. So when Anna looked on Issy, love shone in her tears, as with Shem, the penman, whose past life had befouled him in his prime.

 

Younger: My word, what a sackfull of things! A baker’s dozen and more. A Hibernian market! All that and more in one envelope, if you dare break the seal [because the gifts are not always good?] No wonder they run from her poison plague [river water?]. Throw me your soap and I’ll give it back in the morning. You have all the eddies on your side of the river.

Older: Well, am I to blame?

Younger: You’re on the sharp side. I’m on the wide. Only snuff wrappers drift my way, emptied out of the mad priest’s cassock [Michael arklow?]. Strips of his foreign bible, dead disgusting but with funny titles drawn on the title page… the Lake Windermere

 

P. 213

 

..poet, Sheridan’s ‘House by the Churchyard’, Mill’s ‘On the Subjection of Women’ and ‘Mill on the Floss’. I know how those racy titles move him.

Older: My hands are blue from the cold, like that piece of patterned china lying below.

Younger: Oh, where is it?

Older: Lying beside the edge I saw it. Uh oh, I’ve lost it!

Younger: In the turbulent water who could see it? But I could listen to more and more. This is the life for me.

 

Older: Well, do you know that every tale has its way of telling. The dusk is falling! My branches are taking root.

Younger: And my skin has turned ash grey. What time is it?

Older: It’s getting late.

Younger: It’s a long time since anyone has seen see the Waterhouse clock.

Older: They took it asunder I heard them say…Wring out the clothes! Bring them in from the dew! God above avert the showers!

Younger: Will we spread the clothes here?

Older: Ay, we will. You spread on your bank and I’ll do the same on mine…

Younger: Where are all Anna’s children now?

Older: Here and there, some no more, or left to become strangers. Some ended up in Amercia [Vinland] and some in China. One of Biddy’s…

 

P. 214

 

…beads [her presents from 210.29] went bobbing away and ended up in a side drain off a public toilet. All that’s left of the Meaghers’ is one kneebuckle and the hooks [of his breeches present 211.11].

Younger: Do you tell me that only now?

Older: I do.

Younger: We’re just shadows!

Older: Haven’t you heard [the story] over and over, many times? You did!

Younger: I need to hear it again. It’s all the wadding I’ve put in my ears. It’s cut out the sound.

Older: What’s your problem?

Younger: Is that there the great Finnegan himself in his kimono [Giacomo Joyce], riding high on his statue? It that him there on the Common?

Older: Clear your eyes of cobwebs and spread your washing! [flapping of washing] Ireland sober is Ireland stiff, Lord help you.

Younger: I thought so! Were you lifting your elbow [drinking] in Conway’s canteen?

Older: Was I what, hobbledy hips? Am I not up in the damp dawn, by the saints, with my poor pulse and varicose veins, my daughter [Issy] in decline and my one-eyed mongrel run over twice now, up soaking, bleaching and boiling rags, a widow like me, all to fund my tennis champion son.

Younger: You got your limp from the hussahs [three solders theme] on their visit to Dublin with Duke ‘Collars and Cuffs’, and your behaviour gave a smell to Carlow. Holy Salamader [?] I saw the statue of Humphrey again. Near the Golden Falls. See there!

Older: Keep quiet, you humble creature! It’s a blackberry bush, or the grey ass those four codgers own [i.e. four historians and ass].

Younger: You mean Tarpey, Lyons and Gregory? [Matthew, Mark, Luke - new testament]

Older: I mean all four of them, that wander in the mist, and old Johnny MacDougal [John, new testament] along with…

 

P. 215

 

…them.

Younger: Is that the Poolbeg lighthouse, or my Garry coming back from the Indies?

Older: Wait until the moon changes my love. We’ll meet again, we’ll part once more [like witches in Macbeth]

Younger: The spot I’ll find, if you say the hour.

Older: Forgive me, I am fading. Bye bye!

Younger: I go home slowly now by my own way.

Older: I too.

 

Older: Ah Anna Livia was a dear old friend. Dear Dirty Dublin, a foster-father of Finns and daughter ghillies.

Younger: Where are all their descendents? Hadn’t he seven women as wives?

Older: And every one had a clutch of seven. And every one of those had it’s seven too [seven hues: rainbow of humanity]. He married his Maggies, cheap and foul [or cheek by jowl], with their pinks and lemons, cream, yellow and turquoise, indigo and mauve [i.e. rainbow colours].

Younger: But just who was their spouse?

Older: You may as well ask about fairyland! But time and time over he returns. The same anew [& happy returns – Christmas presents]. Anna was, is and will be. Northmen came and took the southerners place, and how many met each plurabelle in person? [? Invaders intermingle?]. But HCE has two nipples, and has a soft place for orphans. His boys, and Issy, and all men.

 

Younger: I can’t hear you with these waters chattering, and the flittering of the bats and field mice. Have you not gone home?

Older: What? Thom Malone?

Younger: Can’t hear you, with all the bats, and the noise of the Liffey. [Washer women are on opposite sides of Liffey]

Older: My foot won’t move.I feel as old as yonder elm.

Younger: A tale told of Shaun or Shem?

Older: All Anna Livia’s daughters and sons.

Younger: I feel…

 

P. 216

 

as heavy as yonder stone.

Older: Tell me of John or Shaun?

Younger: Tell me, elm!

Older: Night, night!

Younger: Tell me of Tree [Shem] and Stone [Shaun] beside the waters of [the Liffey]

Older: Goodnight!