Co-ome thou lost one
thou lost one
Figure of speech. In Aeolus Bloom thinks of
a pair of lines from the opera Martha that later, in Sirens,
he will hear sung: "Co-ome thou lost one, / Co-ome
thou dear one." The division of the vowel reflects the
fact that it straddles more than one note in the song, an
effect known in musical theory as melisma. But the division
also embodies the rhetorical principle of diaeresis, a
sub-type of metaplasm in which a syllable
is added to the pronunciation of a word.
Diaeresis or dieresis (dye-AIR-uh-sis) is Greek for
separation (dia- = apart + hairein = to take).
Among other meanings, it can refer to "taking apart" adjacent
vowels, pronouncing them as two syllables. The word can also
denote a diacritical mark placed over the second vowel to
indicate the start of a new syllable, like the strange one (not
an umlaut) used by The New Yorker to spell words like
"naïve," "reëlect," and "zoölogy." Alternatively, words that
have been compounded from a prefix and a stem will sometimes
be printed with hyphens as in Joyce's text––"co-operate,"
"re-elect"––to indicate that two syllables should be
Joyce's use in Aeolus apparently differs from the
standard rhetorical meaning, as "come" contains only one "o."
Nevertheless, diaeresis seems like a valid principle to apply
to it. The ancient rhetoricians presumably came up with the
term to indicate that in certain circumstances an orator might
wish to take a word normally pronounced with one undivided
syllable and deliver it with two. Gideon Burton
(rhetoric.byu.edu) gives as an example the sentence, "The
professor's self-importance could be measured by the way he
pronounced 'medieval' as 'medi-eval'." It is difficult to
imagine situations where such mincing articulation would be an
oratorical asset, but the effect must have been comparable to
the one encountered frequently (and quite naturally) in vocal
music, where melodic needs often demand that a syllable be
prolonged across notes.
As a professional singer Molly is intimately familiar with
this melismatic extension of syllables. In Penelope
she thinks repeatedly of "the end of Loves
old sweeeetsonnnng." The final line of the refrain
requires the singer to think about how she will deliver not
only those final two words but also "looooves old." Molly
thinks too of melisma in the song's opening line: "dear deaead
days beyond recall." In Aeolus, Joyce brings these
musical considerations into the realm of rhetoric, adding
diaeresis to his bag of verbal tricks.