Bloomsday 2011 . . .
Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday, the date into which all the Dublin world of the character Leopold Bloom was condensed in the novel Ulysses by James Joyce.
Last year I wrote an extensive essay that ties together all the threads of meaning this literary holiday holds for me as a writer. Here is the link for further reading:
During my years in Philadelphia, I spent Bloomsday in and around the Rosenbach Museum & Library, which has the original handwritten manuscript of the novel in its extensive holdings. Every June 16th, rain or shine, the 2000 block of Delancey Place becomes a gentile gathering place for fans, and lovers, of the novel. There, on the Rosenbach’s stoop, the novel is read aloud with musical interludes culled from the text. Various celebrities, literary and otherwise, take turns reading passages from the big good book. I had the pleasure to do so on the 100th anniversary year, 2004. The placard placed in front of the microphone as I read my script listed me as:
ron P. swegman
Angler & Author
This moment in the literary limelight still makes me smile. Squeezed between Mister Mayor and Madame University President was this “Angler & Author” fellow who read the “Proteus” section of Ulysses with an ear for the complex cadence of Joyce’s prose. Who was he? Well, at that time, he was the author of the forthcoming collection of stories Philadelphia on the Fly.
This year, as a New Yorker, the “work-in-progress” is Wildflowers of the West Village. I spent this Bloomsday to that end in Central Park. I first fly fished at Harlem Meer where the purple pickerel weed was in full flower. I next hiked through the North Woods, down through the heart of the park, around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, finishing up at Columbus Circle. Seven plus hours of shoe leather in total; kind of like Joyce’s own epic wanderer.
The star bloom on this day turned out to be Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, a member of the family Ranunculaceae (Joyce would probably appreciate my generous use of the Latin). This pretty flower is a native perennial, fond of woodlands (where I found the plants I photographed), and one of the more delicate red wildflowers to be found near the cusp of spring and summer.
Happy Bloomsday . . .
– rPs 06 16 2011
Postscript: Visit the Rosenbach Museum & Library online here: http://www.rosenbach.org/