High tide

High tide

In Brief

In Telemachus the "boatman" who is looking out over the water where a man drowned nine days earlier comments that the body "will be swept up that way when the tide comes in about one"—an expectation repeated in Lotus Eaters when M'Coy begs off of attending Paddy Dignam's 11:00-12:00 funeral because "There's a drowning case at Sandycove may turn up and then the coroner and myself would have to go down if the body is found." Joyce had consulted his tide tables: on June 16 the high tide occurred at 12:42 PM. The slow rolling in of the tide also figures in Proteus and Nausicaa. 

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As the noon hour approaches in Proteus, Stephen is on Sandymount Strand, not far from the Pigeon House. At the beginning of the chapter he can see "the nearing tide," and later he watches “the tide flowing quickly in on all sides, sheeting the lows of sand.” At the end of the chapter, as water starts to pool near him, he thinks "At one, he said" and imagines the "corpse rising saltwhite from the undertow, bobbing landward."

The novel returns to the same scene on Sandymount Strand in Nausicaa, and again the tide is rising, but now the water is much farther from shore. On any coast, high tides occur every 12 hours and 25 minutes. On 17 June 1904 this would have been a little after 1:00 AM. Nausicaa takes place between 8 and 9 in the evening, so more than four hours remain until high tide. In this context, the babysitters' alarm is greatly exaggerated when "Jacky threw the ball out towards the sea and they both ran after it. . . . And Cissy and Edy shouted after them to come back because they were afraid the tide might come in on them and be drowned." The spot where the women are sitting will eventually be under water (later in the chapter Bloom thinks, "Tide comes here. Saw a pool near her foot"), but at the moment the waves are very far away.

JH 2017
View across Sandymount Strand to the Poolbeg Generating Station, next to the now-decommissioned Pigeon House generating station of Joyce's day. Source: lostchildreninthewilderness.wordpress.com.