All Day I Hear The Noise Of Waters

All day I hear the noise of waters
Making moan,
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
Forth alone,
He hears the winds cry to the water’s

The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.

– James Joyce

The thing that struck me about the poem was the unevenness of the lines, and how it broke up the way you would read the poem in an unexpected place. I kept hitting a pattern of 8 and 3, with the lines with 3 syllables give me a sense of pulling up short each time.
Then there’s the rhyme scheme of abcbab cdadcd – the first and second stanza seem to flow into one another for this reason. This is something that happens a fair bit in some poetic structures – villanelles, pantoums, sestinas – because of repetition of the lines or certain words or rhyme schemes. One of my favourite poems is The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina, which is very poignant and compelling because of the way the form has been used.
About Joyce himself, what can I say? In the fine tradition that Ireland has of producing mad, gifted Irishmen, he stands head and shoulder above in the reckoning of most people. You can read about him here and visit a website dedicated to his life and works
here. The man also has a day dedicated to celebrating Leopold Bloom, from Ulysses – you can read more about Bloomsday here.
You can read his works which are in the public domain here on Project Gutenburg, a site dedicated to digitizing out of copyright works and making them available to the public for free.

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