James Joyce playing the guitar in Trieste, 1915 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems

James Joyce Quote
Sing a song of shillings
A guinea cannot buy,
Thirteen tiny pomikens
Bobbing in a pie.
James Joyce Unquote

[ James Joyce ]

Chamber Music
see also
Chamber Music

Musical Settings of Pomes Penyeach

Pomes Penyeach

Published in 1927, this slim volume of 13 poems reveals a greater intensity, directness, and economy of language than the verse of Joyce's youth, Chamber Music. They are at once more concrete in their imagery and impressionistic in their feeling.

Unlike the previous collection, not much about these poem is overtly "musical" — yet by the time Pomes Penyeach was published, Joyce was famous, and his social circle in Paris had expanded to include artists of every stripe, including (not surprisingly) many in the music business. Two of his friends, Herbert Hughes and Arthur Bliss, conscripted 11 other composers to create a book of 13 songs, with each one to write an original setting for one of the poems. The Joyce Book, as it was called, was published in 1933 as a tribute to the author in a limited edition of 500 copies.

The following table lists the composers and the respective poems they set to music.

E.J. Moeran: "Tilly"
Arnold Bax: "Watching the Needleboats at San Sabba"
Albert Roussel: "A Flower Given to My Daughter"
Herbert Hughes: "She Weeps Over Rahoon"
John Ireland: "Tutto è Sciolto"
Roger Sessions: "On the Beach at Fontana"
Arthur Bliss: "Simples"
Herbert Howells: "Flood"
George Antheil: "Nightpiece"
Edgardo Carducci: "Alone"
Eugene Goossens: "A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight"
C.W. Orr: "Bahnhofstrasse"
Bernard Van Dieren: "A Prayer"

This edition also included a portrait of Joyce by Augustus John; a prologue to the poems and settings by James Stephens; an essay on "Joyce as Poet" by Padraic Colum; and an epilogue by Arthur Symons.

The Joyce Book Portrait of Joyce by Augustus John
The Joyce Book
Herbert Hughes, ed.;
designed by Hubert Foss
London: Sylvan Press (1933)
Source: University of Tulsa Special Collections
Portrait of James Joyce
by Augustus John

Source: Portraits of the Artist in Exile: Recollections of James Joyce by Europeans, Willard Potts, ed., University of Washington Press, Seattle (1979)

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