With all of the talk about Hamlet and Gogarty and Irish history and Dublin, etc. etc., it’s easy to lose track of the power that this blasphemous little verse can have. As we were saying about Mulligan’s parody of the mass at the beginnng of this episode, the blasphemy here would have been fairly shocking to pious people.
Does the song make sense to you so far? If you haven’t had a lot of churchin’, it might not. On the last page, for instance, when Mulligan sings “My mother’s a jew, my father’s a bird,” he’s referring to the story of the Annunciation
So Jesus’ mother Mary was a Jew. We can start with that. And Jesus’ father… well… our future friend Leopold Bloom will have some theories about that in episode 12 (“Cyclops”), but suffice it to say that Jesus came into human form through the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is often represented as a bird. A dove, I think. Well, at the risk of killing all the jokes in such a clever way, you can just go here to learn more about the Annunciation.
In this panel — I’ll just assume that you know already that Jesus is described turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. “Plain” in this context means plain stout, as in a “pint of plain.” And yeah, it’s gross, but the joke here is that Jesus says “If you don’t think I’m the Messiah, you aren’t getting any of the wine I make–you’ll have to wait until I have to piss & hope it comes out beer.” Which isn’t going to win you any points with the churchgoers. There’s more to come.