The Snow Is General

Happy Groundhog Day (El Día de la Marmota–hadn’t thought about or encountered the Spanish before). Happy 129th birthday to the guy who wrote this (and who, despite appearances, was not referring to meteorological current events):

“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”


James Joyce’s birthday. He was born in 1882. In Dublin. He’s allegedly hard to read. I’ve never tried “Finnegan’s Wake” because of the difficulty others have reported. The reading equivalent of getting lost in the Amazon jungle, or perhaps climbing Everest. Those Joyce works I have dared crack have been undaunting. No: entertaining. Obligatory Joyce quote:

Lean out of the window,


I hear you singing

A pretty air.

My book is closed,

I read no more,

Watching the fire dance

On the floor.

I have left my book:

I have left my room:

For I hear you singing

Through the gloom,

Singing and singing

A merry air.

Lean out of the window,


–“Chamber Music, V” (1907)

That’s not so hard.

Happy Groundhog, Happy Jim

If there were any groundhogs in these parts, they’d be able to see their shadows today, whatever that portends in this Mediterranean climate of ours.

Meantime, it’s James Joyce’s birthday (1882, in Dublin). By way of The Writer’s Almanac, a couple of quotes:

To a publisher who objected to the vulgarity of some of his writing in “Dubliners”:

“It is not my fault that the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories. I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilization [sic] in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking-glass.”

A life observation:

“Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.”