50 Quotes From Ulysses To Celebrate Bloomsday

50 Quotes From Ulysses To Celebrate Bloomsday

Literary nerds rejoice! If you've been looking for a chance to share some of the most iconic quotes from Ulysses, today is your day.

Since the first Bloomsday, people have celebrated the life and journey of Leopold Bloom, the main character in James Joyce's Ulysses. 

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What is Bloomsday?

The Irish holiday lasts from 8 am June 16th through the early hours of the next morning, the same time that the novel follows the main character Bloom in the year 1904.

Bloomsday celebrations come with festival-goers dressing up like the characters from the time period of the tale. They also wear the traditional straw boater hat that is a major icon for the novel. 

People celebrate this 800-plus-page novel through readings, performances, re-enactments, and visiting the places referenced in the novel.

The novel Ulysses was first published in 1922, the first major celebration of Bloomsday followed in 1929. Ireland adopted the holiday in 1954 and it continues today.

Bloomsday Celebrations

This year's celebration may be looking very different thanks to the lingering COVID-19 restrictions, but that is not stopping the celebration of Bloomsday. People are celebrating online with others throughout the world.

Throughout the world, people are contributing pieces of the normal celebration. Like in Brazil and France, they are doing theatrical re-enactments of the novel. In Toronto, they are doing virtual readings. Symphony Space is hosting a virtual Bloomsday on Broadway with a reading of Telemachus with the guests Fiona Shaw, Claire Danes, and Brain Cox. Author James Joyce's famous breakfast restaurant will serve Joyce's favorite breakfast platter, accompanied by live shows and music. 

They also are putting on a workshop to build the traditional straw boaters hat made famous in the novel while also hosting children's activities, cooking classes, online readings, lectures, maps, fashion tips from the era, music, and theater. 

And don't forget that the artists that were supposed to originally appear at the festival, Colum McCann, Aidan Gillen, and Caitriona Balfe, will be appearing on Youtube at 7 pm to read (or sing) the novel. 

To get in the Bloomsday spirit, here are some quotes from the novel Ulysses to get you familiar with the novel and the wonderful ideas that still reasonate within the world today.

Quotes from Ulysses

1. “We can't change the world, but we can change the subject.”

2. “Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”

3. "They call them stupid. They understand what we say better than we understand them. She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too. Cruel. Her nature.”

4. “Heavenly weather really. If life was always like that. Cricket weather. Sit around under sunshades. Over after over. Out. They can't play it here. Duck for six wickets. Still Captain Culler broke a window in the Kildare street club with a slog to square leg. Donnybrook fair more in their line. And the skulls we were a-cracking when M'Carthy took the floor. Heatwave. Won't last. Always passing, the stream of life, which in the stream of life we trace is dearer than them all.”

5. “And when all was said and done the lies a fellow told about himself couldn't probably hold a proverbial candle to the wholesale whoppers other fellows coined about him.”

6. “Stephen picks up on Armstrong's pier, and calls Kingstown pier "a disappointed bridge" (2.22). He's joking about the fact that Ireland wanted to be connected to continental Europe but ended up being extremely isolated.”

7. “Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”

8. “Each imagining himself to be the first last and only alone, whereas he is neither first last nor last nor only not alone in a series originating in and repeated to infinity.”

9. “Be just before you are generous.”

10. “Horseness is the whatness of all horse. Streams of tendency and eons they worship. God: noise in the street: very peripatetic.”

11. “Beauty: it curves, curves are beauty. Shapely goddesses, Venus, Juno: curves the world admires.”

12. “Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all too fleeting day lingered lovingly on sea and strand, on the proud promontory of dear old Howth guarding as ever the waters of the bay, on the weedgrown rocks along Sandymount shore and, last but not least, on the quiet church whence there streamed forth at times upon the stillness the voice of prayer to her who is in her pure radiance a beacon ever to the storm-tossed heart of man, Mary, star of the sea.”

13. “The sacred pint alone can unbind the tongue...”

14. "The voices blend and fuse in clouded silence: silence that is infinite of space: and swiftly, silently the sound is wafted over regions of cycles of cycles of generations that have lived." 

15. “He laughed to free his mind from his mind's bondage.”

16. "You cruel creature, little mite of a thing with a heart the size of a fullstop.”

17. "Come what might, she would be wild, untrammeled, free." 

18. “Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.”

19. "Every life is in 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." 

20. “The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.”

21. “I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

22. “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”

23. “The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”

24. “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

25. “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”

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26. “God made food; the devil the cooks.”

27. “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

28. “Let my country die for me.”

29. “What incensed him the most was the blatant jokes of the ones that passed it all off as a jest, pretending to understand everything and in reality not knowing their own minds.”

30. “Love loves to love love.”

31. “It is as painful perhaps to be awakened from a vision as to be born.”

32. “If Socrates leaves his house today he will find the sage seated on his doorstep. If Judas go forth tonight it is to Judas his steps will tend.’ Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-law. But always meeting ourselves.”

33. “As you are now so once were we.”

34. “Drugs age you after mental excitement. Lethargy then. Why? Reaction. A lifetime in a night. Gradually changes your character.”

35. “Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.”

36. “Open your eyes now. I will. One moment. Has all vanished since? If I open and am for ever in the black adiaphane. Basta! I will see if I can see.
See now. There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world without end.”

37. “The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant's heart on the hillside.”

38. “When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once…”

39. “What's in a name? That is what we ask ourselves in childhood when we write the name that we are told is ours.”

40. “Me. And me now.”

41. “Touch me. Soft eyes. Soft soft soft hand. I am lonely here. O, touch me soon, now. What is that word known to all men? I am quiet here alone. Sad too. Touch, touch me.”

42. “If he had smiled why would he have smiled? To reflect that each one who enters imagines himself to be the first to enter whereas he is always the last term of a preceding series even if the first term of a succeeding one, each imagining himself to be first, last, only and alone whereas he is neither first nor last nor only nor alone in a series originating in and repeated to infinity.”

43. “People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep.”

44. “Bury the dead. Say Robinson Crusoe was true to life. Well then Friday buried him. Every Friday buries a Thursday if you come to look at it.”

45. “What's yours is mine and what's mine is my own.”

46. “You behold in me, Stephen said with grim displeasure, a horrible example of free thought.”

47. “Can't bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.”

48. “I was happier then. Or was that I? Or am I now I? Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand. Would you go back to then? Just beginning then. Would you?”

49. “I think of you so often you have no idea.”

50. “Beware the horns of a bull, the heels of the horse, and the smile of an Englishman.”

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Emily Francos is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.