Observing from his
Joyce’s early poem Et Tu, Healy, written at the age of nine after the death of Parnell
in October 1891, survives only in three lines remembered by his brother
think it was in verse because of the rhythm of bits of it that I remember. One
line is a pentameter. At the end of the piece the dead Chief [Parnell] is
likened to an eagle, looking down on the grovelling mass of Irish politicians
His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time
Where the rude din of this … century
Can trouble him no more.
Many years ago Fritz Senn warned against
accepting this verselet as evidence of the original poet in Joyce:
Someone has yet to
tell us where Joyce, incipient poet at the age of almost ten, cribbed that
metaphorical eagle from, "His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time". The
source must have been well-known once; a writer hardly ever compared to Joyce,
P. G. Wodehouse, played with the same phrase [in
Leave It To Psmith
It seems that the young Joyce had been
reading Jerome K. Jerome’s Three men in a
boat, published two years earlier in 1889 (and not an unlikely read for the
precocious Joyce). Jerome writes:
I agreed with George,
and suggested that we should seek out some retired and old-world spot, far from
the madding crowd, and dream away a sunny week among its drowsy lanes – some
half-forgotten nook, hidden away by the fairies, out of reach of the noisy
some quaint-perched eyrie on the
cliffs of Time, from whence the surging waves of the nineteenth century would
sound far-off and faint
is an established variant spelling of Jerome’s eyrie.
In fact, credit for first spotting this correspondence,
over fifty years ago, should go to the German author and translator Arno
Schmidt in his essay Das Geheimnis von
Finnegans Wake (1960).4
Joyce My brother's keeper: James Joyce's early
years (London: Faber, 1958), p. 46.
2 Fritz Senn "Trivia
Ulysseana" IV in James Joyce
Quarterly (1982), Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter, p. 177.
3 Jerome K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat (1889), ch. 1, p. 9.
4 Arno Schmidt Essays und Aufsätze:
Bargfelder Ausgabe. Werkgruppe 3, Essays und Biografisches (Arno-Schmidt-Stiftung
im Haffmans Verlag, 1995), Volume 3, Pt. 4, p. 53; Schmidt’s essay was
originally published in the German weekly Die
Zeit on 16 December 1960.