17 November 2006

Hellfire and the Tree of Life

joyce revered dante's inferno
beyond all other art
for reasons i'm sorry to admit
i still can't entirely fathom

but dante at least invented
the genre of cruci-fiction
nailing his parochial enemies
to an eternity of earthly contempt

which surely appealed
to the youthful Stephen Dedalus
of silence-exile-and-cunning fame

but joyce also recognised from the first
that precision was a better revenge
than exaggeration

and by finnegans wake it seems
his ultimate target
has become himself
splayed and vivisected

incarnating all sins

in ulysses though
we face the test case
of gogarty/mulligan
still beloved of critics
for his exuberance

but likely doomed
like dante's nemeses
to cruci-fiction

once we resolve the riddle
of the midnight fistfight [notes]
and the morning rage [etext] [notes]

and i'm certain joyce
would have relished the prospect
of crucifying all the world's villains

on the Tree of Life