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Thread: Rather confused when reading a poem by Joyce

  1. #1
    Registered User Gibran's Avatar
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    Rather confused when reading a poem by Joyce

    Hi everyone, I came across a poem today by James Joyce, below is one passage of the poem All day I hear the noise of waters.

    All day I hear the noise of waters
    Making moan,
    Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
    Forth alone,
    He hears the winds cry to the water's
    Monotone.


    I'm a bit confused by the plural "waters", what does it mean here? I looked up my dictionary and find several meanings, but I'm not sure which one fits this. Or it just stands for something flowing (a symbol of "mind") here?

    Many thanks.
    Last edited by Gibran; 08-18-2009 at 04:49 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Maybe he liked the sibilance at the end of the line, grammar be damned. That would be my guess.

  3. #3
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Waters and water are sort of interchangeable - when you are personifying the water here, as making moans, it works better to use the plural - so a sailor would say something like, "These are rough waters" whereas water as a singular refers to water in general, the plural refers to a part of the whole, a section, that is moaning. Notice the switch to the singular - that is because he is talking about a general thing - water in general, whereas before, by personifying the water, he made it plural - just a weird English convention I guess.

  4. #4
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    That would be a poem from Joyce's Chamber Music. Since he claimed that the title was a pun about urinating against the side of a chamber pot, the use of words such as waters, moan, and going may have hidden ribald connotations.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
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  5. #5
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    can anyone help me with ullyses i have read it and have certain understanding problems in some places..........thank you

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    I might think that could be the sound of the sea.

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