The Voice of Lament in Joyce's Poetic Consciousness
This essay argues that the dominant poetic voice in Joyce's works is Orphic, characterized by a wistful sense of loss, lament, and sorrow. Joyce's Orphic poetic consciousness develops from his early juvenilia, into Stephen Hero, Portrait, Ulysses, and finally Finnegans Wake. The essay argues that from its outset Joyce's poetry emerges from the exigencies of the absence of love and foreshadows its loss. Through this oscillating reading of Joyce's early and later work, this mood and voice of lament, loss, and remorse continues throughout Joyce's career: the son's lament for his father in “Ecce Puer,” the lament for lost youth in “Bahnofstrasse,” the father mourning the loss of his son in Ulysses, the longing for youthful love in Exiles, and the multiple laments that dominate Dubliners, reaching a climax in Gabriel's Orphic lament at the close of “The Dead.” This Orphic voice of lament finds its full expression in Finnegans Wake in the voice of Shem; yet this is finally overcome by the apocalyptic anticipation of renewed hope that transforms the past through the different voice of ALP.
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