My dark-blue rain-drenched flower


My darling I ought to begin by begging your pardon, perhaps, for the extraordinary letter I wrote you last night. While I was writing it your letter was lying in front of me and my eyes were fixed, as they are even now, on a certain word in it. There is something obscene and lecherous in the very look of the letters. The sound of it too is like the act in itself, brief, brutal, irresistible and devilish.

Richard Ellmann. Selected Letters of James Joyce (Page 180)

Joyce loved coincidences and anniversaries and 105 years ago today he wrote to Nora Barnacle from 44 Fontenoy Street. The letter that he had written to Nora the night before and which he refers to in the opening lines quoted above, does not survive. The opening lines of the letter show his romantic side but the letter quickly turns to include salacious and scatalogical elements. The letter then repeatedly shifts dramatically between tone between the two sides. The following quotes are not for anyone of a sensitive disposition.

My love for you allows me to pray to the spirit of eternal beauty and tenderness mirrored in your eyes or to fling you down under me on that soft belly of yours and fuck you up behind, like a hog riding a sow, glorying in the very stink and sweat that rises from your arse, glorying in the open shame of your upturned dress and white girlish drawers and in the confusion of your flushed cheeks and tangled hair.

Richard Ellmann. Selected Letters of James Joyce (Page 181)

Joyce seems satisfied that Nora did not sleep with Vincent Cosgrave when she was at Finn’s Hotel as he ends the letter by calling her his faithful darling. But he was to return to the subject of exactly what Cosgrave may have done in the letters written in the coming days.The letter ends;

    Nora, my faithful darling, my sweet-eyed blackguard schoolgirl, be my whore, my mistress, as much as you like (my little frigging mistress! my little fucking whore!) you are always my beautiful wild flower of the hedges, my dark-blue rain-drenched flower.”

Richard Ellmann. Selected Letters of James Joyce (Page 181)


Joyce, J. (1992) Selected Letters of James Joyce. Edited by Richard Ellmann. London, England: Faber & Faber.

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