527 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 54 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H3'ed 1/11/18

"Tilly", a poem by James Joyce

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   6 comments

Gary Lindorff
Message Gary Lindorff
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)

Free photo Herd Mist Water Haze Fog Buffalo Bison Walking - Max Pixel960 Ã-- 602 - 149k - jpg
Free photo Herd Mist Water Haze Fog Buffalo Bison Walking - Max Pixel960 Ã-- 602 - 149k - jpg
(Image by maxpixel.freegreatpict...)
  Details   DMCA

He travels after a winter sun,
Urging the cattle along a cold red road,
Calling to them, a voice they know,
He drives his beasts above Cabra.

The voice tells them home is warm.
They moo and make brute music with their hoofs.
He drives them with a flowering branch before him,
Smoke pluming their foreheads.

Boor, bond of the herd,
Tonight stretch full by the fire!
I bleed by the black stream
For my torn bough!

Reflections: (Spoiler: This is a plug for lucidity.) This was a very poignant poem for me, and I'm glad I chanced to find it. (I was reading Patti Smith's memoir, "Just Kids" and she mentioned a collection of Joyce's poems, Pomes Penyeach [1927]. "Tilly" is the first poem in this book.) Several of the images pulled me right in, like a dream. The images, all by themselves, spoke to me. I could identify with the herdsmen on the red clay road driving his cows to the music of their plodding progress, the steam from their breathing enveloping their heads. The third and last stanza introduces an outside voice with a bitter message that casts a shadow over the first two stanzas in which "he" (the herdsman) is at one with the herd and content with his work. By contrast, the third stanza is spoken in the first person, which I assume is the voice of the poet, or even Joyce himself. The poet cannot be the romantic who is content to stay with the herd and sleep on the ground by the fire at night. For the poet, the flowering bough that the herdsman uses to guide the cows, is the "torn bough". The stream is black and he himself is bleeding, as if he identifies with the torn branch. The poet feels the pain of the world whereas his counterpart, the herdsman, is part of nature and lacks this awareness. This poem reenacts the fall, the exile from paradise, but not necessarily in the Christian sense of the fall. What it depicts for me is the fall into lucidity from which all meaningful living proceeds. In other words, the poet, we, are the bough torn from the tree of life, and with that revelation of separateness begins our long journey home again, a journey of healing on multiple levels via lucidity.

(Article changed on January 11, 2018 at 18:54)

Well Said 1   Touching 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Gary Lindorff Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

Related Topic(s): Poetry, Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Eating Healthy is Do-able / Eating healthily on the fly (plus thoughts on hypoglycemia)

Waking from the dream of causality

More soul-retrieval: Trees in the silo

We must be more than prophets -- a prose poem

Your conscience

Truth was everywhere

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend