James Joyce

James Joyce Poems

James Joyce was an incredibly important Irish writer. He completed short stories, novels, and poetry throughout his life. He also worked as a literary critic and teacher. His best-known work is Ulysses. Other well-known novels are Finnegans Wake and A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. Read more about James Joyce.

The twilight turns from amethyst

by James Joyce

‘The twilight turns from amethyst’ by James Joyce is a poignant piece of vibrant and romantic poetry by the modernist Irish novelist.

This poem by James Joyce illustrates a scene of loving intimacy, one encompassed by the evening's deepening dark and the sound of a solitary woman at the piano. It's also the second poem that appears in 'Chamber Music' — the collection in which it was first published — as well as introducing the object of the speaker's amorous emotions.

The twilight turns from amethyst

    To deep and deeper blue,

The lamp fills with a pale green glow

    The trees of the avenue.

At that hour when all things have repose

by James Joyce

‘At that hour when all things have repose’ by James Joyce is a lyrical poem that explores themes of lovelorn solitude and the sublime beauty of music.

This poem by James Joyce conjures up a scene characterized by both romantic yearning and an overbearing loneliness. It was first published in his debut poetry collection 'Chamber Music,' a collection of 36 love poems told from the perspective of a speaker gripped by love. Here, the speaker addresses the "lonely watcher of the skies" as they observe a lonely personification of love.

At that hour when all things have repose,

O lonely watcher of the skies,

Do you hear the night wind and the sighs

Of harps playing unto Love to unclose

Strings in the earth and air

by James Joyce

‘Strings in the earth and air’ by James Joyce is a romantic poem that imagines love as a youth playing sweetly enchanting music.

This poem by James Joyce is the first one found within his 1907 collection 'Chamber Music.' One that introduces the titular motif of music that echoes throughout as an enchanting symbol of love's beauty. Like so many of the poems in the collection, it reveals the Irish writer's talent for conjuring poignant scenes of romance and passion.

Strings in the earth and air

Make music sweet;

Strings by the river where

The willows meet.

Dear heart, why will you use me so

by James Joyce

‘Dear heart, why will you use me so’ by James Joyce both revels and despairs the rapturous reign and inevitable sundering that love delivers.

This poem by James Joyce appears in his first poetry collection, 'Chamber Music,' and it represents one of the more lamentable love poems in the book. Here, the speaker wrestles with their heart and eyes, struggling to reconcile their intense passion with an equally rampant sadness. Both of these emotions are inspired by their love for a woman beyond their reach.

Dear heart, why will you use me so?

Dear eyes that gently me upbraid,

Still are you beautiful—but O,

How is your beauty raimented!

Ecce Puer

by James Joyce

‘Ecce Puer’ was published in 1932 and it is featured in Collected Poems. Joyce wrote this poem in order to mourn the recent death of his father, John Stanislaus Joyce.

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