Click to view the track list for CD #2
James Joyce at the Piano in Paris, 1939 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
CD #2 Song List
Artwork for CD #2 cover

James Joyce Quote
I am operating all this trunk line.
James Joyce Unquote

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Oh Twine Me a Bower

Music by Hon. D. Roche;
words by Thomas Crofton Croker, Esq.

Liner Notes

A Portrait of the Artist

This song (along with the song performed on Track #3, "The Groves of Blarney") comes from the repertoire of Uncle Charles; in Portrait he sings them while banished to an outhouse in the back garden. Dapper in his old-fashioned tall hat, self-possessed Uncle Charles may be seen as a type of the unspoiled, rural, pre-famine Irishman now trapped in the squalor and confusion of an urban and alien environment, a change he accepts with equanimity.

Joyce's care in apportioning appropriate musical materials to his characters is on display here: the songs mentioned are those of Charles' youth in the 1830s and have strong connections to the south of Ireland. Their respective authors were Corkonians, both of whom devoted a good part of their lives to collecting folk traditions among the peasantry. The resemblance, however, stops there; the contrast between these writers' approaches to Ireland's traditions and past may well be part of Joyce's decision to pair their songs.

T. Crofton Croker (1798-1854) was an early and sympathetic collector of folk material, the source of a number of Thomas Moore's melodies, and the author of song collections championing Ireland's glorious past. His "Oh Twine Me a Bower" can be accepted as straightforward praise of the simple, but important, things in life — the only irony provided by the decidedly non-bucolic surroundings.

"The Groves of Blarney" is quite the other thing. [more...]
[CD liner notes by Kevin McDermott]

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