Tuesday, 24 March 2015

St Patrick and the Druid in Pictures

'Much more is intended in the colloquy between Berkeley the arch druid and his pidgin speech and Patrick the [?] and his Nippon English. It is also the defence and indictment of the book itself, B's theory of colours and Patrick's practical solution of the problem. hence the phrase in the preceding Mutt and Jeff banter 'Dies is Dorminus master' = Deus est Dominus noster plus the day is Lord over sleep, i.e. when it days.'  

Joyce to Frank Budgen, 20 August 1939, Letters I p 406

It struck me that this St Patrick and the Druid piece is so visual that it calls out to be illustrated. So, inspired by Clinton Cahill, Stephen Crowe and John Vernon Lord, I've made my first attempt to illustrate Finnegans Wake.

The first picture shows the night world of the book, defended by the Archdruid Balkelly, who is wearing a 'heptachromatic sevenhued septicoloured roranyellgreenlindigan mantle'.  

Saint Patrick, on the right, is dressed as a Japanese Buddhist bonze (monk). He is the messenger of the dawn, and Japan is the land of the Rising Sun ('the messanger of the risen sun...shall give to every seeable a hue and to every hearable a cry)'. At his first appearance, Patrick is called 'the Chrystanthemlander with his porters of bonzos' (609.32): 'Chrystanthemlander' combines the Japanese chrysanthemum with Christ, anthem and lander. Joyce has him talking Japanese.

In the middle is High King Leary, who is also HCE and Finn, buried in the book's opening chapter, but who now 'rearrexes from undernearth the memorialorum.' (610.03)

The sky is covered with a thick black cloud because, in their encounter with St Patrick, 'the druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse than Egyptian darkness.' (The Catholic Encyclopedia). This was miraculously dispelled by the saint.

The druid is claiming, in pidgin English, that the daytime visible world of colour is an illusion. When we see a coloured object, we are seeing the one colour it has reflected, rather than the six colours of the spectrum it has absorbed. But a true seer, like the druid, can see the 'sextuple glory of the light actually retained...inside them.'

Pointing at High King Leary, he explains that his red hair, orange kilt, yellow breasttorc, green mantle, blue eyes, indigo gem on his ring and violet warwon bruises on his face are all really various shades of green! 

A green-coloured resurrected king reminds me of Osiris - 'Pu Nuseht [the sun up] lord of risings in the yonderworld' 593.23

Patrick is not impressed at all by the druid's argument, and accuses him of being colour-blind: 'you pore shiroskuro blackinwhitepaddynger'. You poor chiaroscuro black and white Irishman. 'Shiro' is Japanese for white and 'kuro' for black. 

The sun rises, dispelling the black clouds of the Book of the Night, and Patrick kneels in worship before the rainbow. Daytime colours are visible, and the furious druid is defeated.

Patrick and the Druid are opposites in every way. The druid is dressed in rainbow colours but only sees green. Patrick is dressed in black and white ('niggerblonker'), but can see the rainbow.  But each will have their turn as day and night alternate.

'Yet is no body present here which was not there before. Only is order othered. Nought is nulled. Fuit fiat!' 613.13


  1. This is fantastic!!!

    Great work, I'm glad you shared it with us. You've got a great artistic stroke. Very funny, too.