On this day…1 January

On 1 January 1932 Joyce wrote to TS Eliot and Ezra Pound about his father’s death.

On the day on which John Joyce was being buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Joyce wrote to TS Eliot and Ezra Pound about his father’s death. The fact that Joyce had not gone to see him or to attend the funeral was weighing heavily on him.

Joyce had organised for a wreath bearing the message ‘With Sorrow and Love’ to be sent in time for his father’s funeral, but did not go to Dublin himself. Affairs there were being looked after by Constantine Curran, a university friend of Joyce’s, but Joyce felt guilty about not having gone to see his father in the last few years.

In the letter to TS Eliot Joyce apologised for being behind with his work, attributing it to his father’s illness and death. Joyce told Eliot that his father had always had an intense love for him, ‘and it adds anew to my grief and remorse that I did not go to Dublin to see him for so many years.’ Joyce went on to justify his decision not to return to Dublin in recent years, and said ‘…I feel that a poor heart which was true and faithful to me is no more.’

Writing to Ezra Pound, Joyce started out by transcribing the lyrics of The Groves of Blarney and provided what little information he had about the Blarney Stone, including the fact that it was not phallic! He only made a brief reference to his father’s death at the end of the letter saying ‘He loved me deeply…but in spite of my own deep feeling for him I never dared to trust myself into the power of my enemies.’


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I edited by Stuart Gilbert, vol. III edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1957, 1966.