Quarter to

In Brief

At the end of Telemachus Stephen recalls words from the prayer for the dying in a peculiar way. Three phrases are excerpted from the prayer and arranged on separate lines of text: "Liliata rutilantium. / Turma circumdet. / Iubilantium te virginum." At the end of Calypso Bloom does something very similar, repeating a phrase three times on separate lines of text: "Heigho! Heigho! / Heigho! Heigho! / Heigho! Heigho!" In the second of these instances, Joyce makes clear what is happening: Bloom is hearing "The bells of George's church" tolling the time of day: "Quarter to." An observant reader could reasonably infer that Stephen too is hearing bells ringing out from some nearby building, fixing the end of Telemachus too at 8:45. This inference is confirmed in Ithaca.

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As Stephen prepares to leave the garden behind Bloom's house in Ithaca, both men hear the bells of St. George's ringing once more, and perceive dissimilar "echoes." Stephen recalls words from the prayer for the dying: "Liliata rutilantium. Turma circumdet. / Iubilantium te virginum. Chorus excipiat." Bloom again recalls the nursery rhyme refrain: "Heigho, heigho, / Heigho, heigho." The fact that Bloom now hears only two four-syllable lines fixes the time at 1:30 AM—and, significantly, Stephen too hears only two lines of text, not three as before. Joyce disjoins his protagonists at the end of the day in the same way that he joined them at the beginning of the day, as each left their domiciles and headed off into the world.

JH 2017
Bells in St. Mary's Church, Felmersham, Bedfordshire. Source: www.felmersham.net.