Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Episode Eleven: “Sirens”

Ben Dollard sings “Love and War,” and Bloom recognizes it from the dining room. He thinks of the night that Dollard borrowed evening wear from Molly’s shop. In the saloon, Dedalus is encouraged to sing “M’appari,” the tenor’s song from Martha.

Goulding reminisces about opera performances. Bloom thinks sympathetically about Goulding’s chronic back pain and unsympathetically about Goulding’s tendency to lie. In the saloon, Dedalus begins to sing “M’appari.” Goulding recognizes Dedalus singing. Bloom thinks of Dedalus’s vocal talent, wasted by drinking. Bloom realizes the song is from Martha—a coincidence, as he was just about to write to Martha Clifford. Touched by the music, Bloom reminisces about his first fateful meeting with Molly. The song ends to applause. Tom Kernan enters the bar.

Bloom muses on the Dedalus-Goulding falling-out. Ruminating on the melancholy lyrics of “M’appari,” Bloom thinks about death and Dignam’s funeral this morning. Bloom thinks to himself about the mathematics of music, and how Milly has no taste in music.

Bloom begins writing a letter to Martha. He covers the page with his newspaper and tells Goulding he is answering an advertisement. Bloom writes flirtatious lines and encloses a half-crown. Bloom feels bored with the correspondence.

A recurring “tap” begins here—it is the tap of the blind piano tuner’s walking stick. He is returning to retrieve his tuning fork.

Bloom watches Miss Douce flirt at the bar. Cowley plays the minuet of Don Giovanni. Bloom thinks about the omnipresence of music in the world, women’s singing voices, and the eroticism of acoustic music. He imagines that Boylan is just arriving to meet Molly. Indeed, Boylan is now knocking on the Blooms’ door.