Orphans in the Underworld

U 15.1889-91:


You hig, you hog, you dirty dog!

You think the ladies love you!

Bloom is pictured with asses’ ears, arms crossed, sitting in a pillory. The Prison Gate girls caper round him in a circle one way, and the orphans from the Christian Brothers’ Institute for Destitute Children (at Artane, north-east of Dublin) caper round the other way. The Artane orphans taunt and jeer at Bloom pitilessly. Somehow they seem to know that Bloom would like to regard himself as a ladykiller:

You hig, you hog, you dirty dog!

You think the ladies love you!

The couplet is a puzzling one. Gifford notes that “The source of this street rhyme is unknown”. More recently, and from a non-Joycean angle, the verse has attracted further interest:1

I'm trying to track down what I expect is a very old, probably Irish, song. A guitarist I played with long ago wrote a song that quoted a song that his Grandmother used to sing. The part that I remember went like this....

You pig, you hog, you dirty dog

Ya think the girls all love ya

Grand as you think yerself to be

I think myself above ya

When the rhyme does surface - as it does occasionally - it has an unexpected context, but one to which Bloom has alluded earlier in Circe.

On Valentine’s Day, 1849 Betsy Pumpkin writes a letter to her sister Kitty Cucumber, one of a series of her letters written for the benefit of readers of Bell’s Life in Sydney. As well as describing a court case that Doodle Pumpkin, of the Artificial Flower Manufactory, Sydney, has become involved in, she tells her sister of Doodle’s growing correspondence:2

Its [sic] useless for one to relate the whole of the Valentines that my poor Doodle has received, - one of which, for I'll not trouble you with any more, shows with what scorn and contempt he has been treated, after putting us to the expense of the postage, the following Morceaux we have received: -

You pig, you hog, you ugly dog,

You think the girls all love you;

You ugly beast, not fit for a feast,

For the New Zealanders to eat you.

Your beautiful locks, it every one shocks;

Dont you think that you're a beauty;

Your mistaken my dear, in your seventeenth year,

To tell you your faults, it's my duty.

I would give all the world to find out who wrote this, but I suppose it was one of Doodles old favorites.

The final comment seems rather confusing, until one realises that this is a rather special kind of Valentine anti-message, lovingly pouring vituperation and scorn upon the object of one’s affections.

Fifty years later the same verse is used in another mock-insulting message from a wife to her husband, recording in the typescript Diary of Josiah Cocking:3

This is a copy of Mrs. Reed’s letter in reply to that of W. Reed […]:

"Camperdown, Sep. 27, 1892. Dirty old Reed, I got your insulting ignorant note, & it is like your impertinant [sic] ignorance to address me in the manner you have. […] I am going to be married to a proper husband soon. An old, bad brute like you is not fit for my company. […] With hatred to you for ever. You pig, you hog, you dirty dog, you think that I do love you; I sent you this to let you know I think myself far above you."

The rhyme is not restricted to Ireland and Australia. As Joyce was completing Ulysses the following story was told in the (Hull) Daily Mail, summing up an earlier discussion in the newspaper:4

The elegant tone affected by the – er – third sex in their epistles favouring “A Male” with their opinions of him reminds me of a valentine I once saw in a back-street shop window. It was a coloured picture of something between a monkey and a man, and the letterpress beneath it read: -

"You pig, you hog;

You nasty, dirty, dog;

Do you think the ladies love you?

I am, Sir, etc.,

Squibs and Crackers

Hull, Dec. 3rd, 1921

Although the Artane orphans are made to taunt Joyce with this aggressive verse wrested from another context, Bloom is perhaps reminded of his lusty wanderings earlier:

You know I had a soft corner for you. (Gloomily.) ’Twas I sent you that valentine of the dear gazelle. (U 15.435)

John Simpson


1 http://www.irishgaelictranslator.com/translation/topic78585.html (accessed 1 May 2015; link no longer live). Original contribution dated 6 December 2008.

2 Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (Sydney, New South Wales) (1849), 24 February, p. 1.

3 Diary of Josiah Cocking (1892) (University of Newcastle library, New South Wales) (https://downloads.newcastle.edu.au/library/cultural%20collections/pdf/Cocking-A-1884-1893.pdf) p. 90.

4 Daily Mail (Hull) (1921), 5 December, p. 7. A similar rhyme is recorded in Northwest Folklore (University of Oregon), vol 6 (1987), p. 27:

You pig, you hog, You dirty dog

You think your Mother loves you.

She sent this note, Just to denote

She thinks herself above you.

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