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." Joyce had consulted his tide tables: on June 16 the high tide occurred at 12:42 PM. Proteus is set on the tide flats of Dublin Bay as the tide rolls in, several hours later. In Nausicaa, when the novel returns to the same scene, the situation in Telemachus is repeated: the tide is again rising, but there are several hours to go until high tide.

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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.”

The situation is very different in Nausicaa. 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.