Cuthbert

Cuthbert the Wanderer

 

Stuart Gilbert describes the language of Bloom’s entrance to the Holles Maternity Hospital, and his conversation with nurse Callan, as “a hotchpotch of early Anglo-Saxon”, which indeed it is. It has often, as in Gifford, been compared to the Old English poem, The Wanderer. But a more definite source, substantiated by Cuthbert’s name and other entries in the notesheets, is an excerpt from Ælfric’s life of St. Cuthbert, in George Saintsbury’s History of English Prose Rhythm (1912) (a copy of which formed part of Joyce’s personal library in Trieste):

The aforesaid holy man was wonted that he would go at night to the sea, and stand on the salt brim up to his swire [neck] singing his beads. Then on a certain night waited another monk his faring; and with slack stalking his footswathes followed till that they both to sea came. Then did Cuthbert as his wont was; sang his beads in the sea-like ooze, standing up to the swire, and sithence his knees on the chesil bowed, with outstretched handbreadths to the heavenly firmament. Lo! then came twey seals from the sea-ground, and they with their flix his feet dried, and with their breath his limbs warmed, and sithence with beckonings his blessing bade, lying at his feet on the fallow chesil.

(parallel text: translation, p. 33)


    Cuthbert goes “at night to the sea”; Bloom, who “over land and seafloor nine year had long outwandered” (U 14.87-8), comes “at night’s oncoming” (U 14.71-2) to the hospital. 

    Another monk waits Cuthbert’s “faring”; nurse Callan greets Bloom, “Some man that wayfaring was […] that on earth wandering far had fared” (U 14.71-3). 

    Cuthbert stands “up to his swire”; nurse Callan rises “with swire ywimpled” (U 14.81). 

    “Twey seals” come up from the sea to greet Cuthbert; “Watchers tway”, nurses Callan and Quigley, walk the wards in the hospital (U 14.76). 

    The seals warm Cuthbert’s limbs with their breath; Doctor O’Hare, receiving the last sacraments, has “sick men’s oil to his limbs” (U 14.100).

    In another excerpt from Ælfric, the New Testament story of the centurion, appears the following passage:

 Much belief he had in that he quoth,"Lord! speak thy word, and my knight shall be whole." Soothly he manifested mickle humility in this, that he said,"Lord, not am I worthy that thou infare under my thatch." He had mickle wisdom in that he understood that Christ is eachwhere present: through his god-kindness – he who once bodily betwixt men seeably yode.

(parallel text: translation, p. 32)

    Although Joyce did not copy from this on the notesheets, a parallel sentence does appear in “Oxen”: “Christ’s rood made she on breastbone and him drew that he would rathe infare under her thatch” (U 14.83-5). Literally, ‘to infare under a thatch’ means the same in both sentences: to enter a building. The statement of the centurion, however, as Joyce would well have known, is the source for the prayer “Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea” in the Tridentine Mass, said by the communicant before receiving the host: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed.”  In “Oxen” it may be a description of another sort of communion, the meeting of the egg and sperm in the Fallopian tube [see notesheet 2.106: Fallopian tube (hall); or, more accurately, see notesheet 18.12: Meetpoint, ovary, tube, womb, which Udo Benzenhöfer has traced to Giulio Valentis’ Lezioni Elementari di Embriologia (1893): “L'incontro dell'uovo con il nemasperma puo avvenire in punti molto vari del canale genitale: Sull'ovaja, nella tuba, nella cavita uterina” (ch. 5, p. 21) in Udo Benzenhöfer Medizin und Literatur, Inaugural-Dissertation (1983)] and, at another level, the entrance of the penis into the vagina.

    The following list gives the relevant Ælfric notesheet entries and sources in Saintsbury:

U 14.73:  till that house

NS 13.16 till that they both to sea came

Ælfric/Saintsbury 33 Then on a certain night waited another monk his faring; and with slack stalking his footswathes followed till that they both to sea came.


U 14.75:  are wont that

NS 13.17  Then did Cuthbert as his wont was

Aelfric/Saintsbury 33  Then did Cuthbert as his wont was;

NS 13.15 was wont that he would go on night to sea [not crossed off]

Ælfric/Saintsbury 33  The aforesaid holy man was wonted that he would go at night to the sea, and stand on the salt brim up to his swire [neck] singing his beads.


U 14.76:  tway

NS 13.18 twey seals

Ælfric/Saintsbury 33 Lo! then came twey seals from the sea-ground, and they with their flix his feet dried, and with their breath his limbs warmed, and sithence with beckonings his blessing bade, lying at his feet on the fallow chesil.


U 14.84-5: infare under her thatch

(no:NS entry)

Ælfric/Saintsbury 32 Lord, not am I worthy that thou infare under my thatch. 

    Two items appear in Saintsbury’s version of Ethebalds’s grant of remission of port-dues on two ships to the Bishop of Worcester:

U 14.86:  stow

(no NS entry)

Ethelbald/Saintsbury 16 in the stow that men hight Worcester


U 14.88:  townhithe

NS 13.37 Dublin townhithe

Ethelbald/Saintsbury 17 in London town-hithe

   

    Joyce also used words beyond the Saintsbury excerpts in this section:

U 14.74-5:  teeming mothers

NS 4.107 teeming earth

Izaak Walton/Peacock 72 upon the teeming earth [identified by Philip Herring, Joyce’s Ulysses Notesheets in the British Museum (Viking, 1972)]


U 14.76-7: white sisters in ward sleepless

NS ?

See Ovid Metamorphosis 2.349 candida  [R. J. Schork, Latin and Roman Culture in Joyce  164: When the two sisters of the Sun appear in Ovid’s Metamorphosis at Phaeton’s tomb, Lampetie (“Shining” in Greek) is modified  by the Latin adjective candida (M 2.349).  This word can be translated as “shining white” or “gleaming in white”.]


U 14.94:  adread

NS 7.125 adread

Mandeville/Barnett 1 he would ben a drede


U 14.96-7:  that him so heavied

NS 2.68 it shall so heavy me

MaIory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte d'Arthur (New York: University Books, 1961)   235 it shall so heavy me


U 14.100:  shriven

NS 7.126 they shriven him

Mandeville/ Barnett 1 thei wil first schryven hem

 

Robert Janusko


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Much of the above information first appeared in:

Janusko, Robert.  The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen” (UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan:1983)
Janusko, Robert.  "Another Anthology in the 'Oxen': Barnett and Dale's Anthology of English Prose", in James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Winter, 1990), pp. 257-81