(FW) Finnegans Wake: Throwing Whimsey around Like Blazes pp 94.04 – 95.02



  • Campbell and Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake
  • Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake
  • Combined Lexicon and Occasional Summaries from Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com) and Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake 

100 Words

[Note: My speculation will always appear in brackets so that you can easily ignore it.]


Pages 94.04 [Beginning of Sentence] -95.02 [End of Sentence]


Campbell and Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake

The Campbell and Robinson version: The story [is] the solid man saved by his sillied woman, crackajoking away like a hearse on fire. The elm that whimperers at the top, told the stone, that moans when stricken. Wind broke it, wave bore it, reed wrote it, Syce ran with it, 18 hand tore it and wild went war. Hen trieved it and plate pledged peace.19 it was folded with cunning, sealed with crime, uptied by a harlot, undone by a child. It was life, but was it fair? It was free, but was it art? It made Ma make merry and Sissie so shy and rubbed some shine off Shem and put some shame on Shaun. Yet there is woe in it. The two girls together spell, famine and drought. The king spells tribulation on his throne. Are, fear, fruits, thou timid Danaïdes! 20  Eenie, meenie, miney, moe, one and two and two and three, eenie, meenie, woe is me! A pair of fig-leaf panties with almond eyes, one old lumpy lobster pumpkin, and three meddlers on the sly; Finfin funfun. And that is Hell from sin from son, a city arose. Now, tell me, tell me, tell me then. 21 What was it?

  [And the answer runs:] From Alpha to Omega!

18 Play on the child conundrum: “ A was an apple pie; B bought it; C caught it, etc. etc. What was it?”
19 Refers forward to the hen and the manuscript of the next chapter.
20 Daughters of Danaus; all slew their bridegrooms the night of the wedding.
21 leading forward to the  “Tell me all about Anna Livia” of Bk. I, chap. 8

William York Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake

Tindall begins by exploring the letter’s author: “But what is this letter, and what is it about? “Of eyebrow pencilled, by lipstipple penned,” it seems the work of a woman; yet “Wind broke it [H.C. E. breaking wind]. Wave bore it [A.L.P.]. Reed wrote of it [Shem the Penman]. Syce ran with it [Shaun the Post].” Plainly the letter affects each member of the family that is responsible for it. Maybe breaking into rhyme – a parody of “Tea for Two,” that domestic song – is the best way of getting at the matter, but the best is not good enough. What is it then it is everything from A to O – from Alpha to Omega – like the Wake itself ( 94.10-22).

Preceding these terminal letters for the letter are four lines (94.16-19) that exhibit with exemplary concentration Joyce’s use of interwoven motif. The three girls and the two soldiers, here again, Carrie new – or, rather, old – loads. As “a pair of sycopanties,” (almond) eyes suggest Mary Magdalene. As “three  meddlers,” the soldiers combine meddling with apples, no less appropriate to the fall then fig leaves. The faller is Humpty Dumpty. But from his happy fall “acity arose… A sitting arrows.” “Finfin funfun,” the motif for the Magazine wall, includes falling Finnegan and the fun at his wake. Renewal is promised, and old scandal, uncovered by the refrain of the washer woman colon “Now, tell me, tell me, tell me then!” This compendious arrangement of motifs is a summary of the Wake. The rest of the book is their rearrangement in other patterns of rhythm, meaning, and sound. Joyce disordered and ordered his limited materials endlessly. (Tindall 91-92)

[Tindall follows with more exploration of this page.]


Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com)
Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake [Entries below introduced by line numbers “l n.nn” and italicized]



l. 4-5 In 1717 or 1718, Swift, walking with others in the evening, stopped & looked up at an elm: ” I shall be like that tree. I shall die at the top.”; Lia Fáil: monolith at Tara that shrieked at the coronation of rightful high kings
crackajolking = crackajack – a thing of highest exellence + [crack a yolk + crack a joke]
a hearse on fire = go like house on fire – (of an event, meeting etc.) to go very well + get along like a house on fire – (of two or more people) to enjoy each other’s companionship very much, often just after meeting.


l. 6 Urdu syce: groom
Syce = a groom or attendant esp. in India.

[trieved = retrieved =  thieved]
plight  =  sin, offence; guilt, blame (obs.); peril, danger, risk (obs.)
pledge = to deliver, deposit, or assign as security for the repayment of a loan or the performance of some action; to pawn.

uptie =  to enclose or confine, to tie up, to connect closely, link, hinder


L 10 perlectio: a reading through
hunks – a term of obloquy for a surly, crusty, cross-grained old person, a miser + Hunks, Old – baited, blind bear, contemporary of Shakespeare’s.
perlection  =  the action of reading through

l. 12 I úna: famine; I íde:thirst; St. Ita’searly Ir religious poetry
Una – according to Mr O Hehir, Irish una = “famine,” personified by a woman, typical mother of a family + Una (l) – one.
Ita = ita – Irish “thirst” + ita (l) – thus, so, in this way.
spill – to let out; to perish + still

l. 13 Cornelius Agrippa, Platonist, ‘natural magician’; tripudiary: Roman divination by behavior of sacred chickens when fed tribulations
drought = thirst
Aprippa  =  Agrippa I (“Herod Agrippa”) – king of Judaea a.d. 41-44
propastored = pro – – earlier than, prior to + pastor – to serve as pastor + propastor (l) – substitute shepherd
tripulations = tribulation – a condition of great affliction, oppression, or misery + [troubles in threes like Shem, Shaun and Issy]

l. 14 threne: dirge, lamentation; G fürdite Früchte: fear fruits; 49 of the Danaides, daughters of Aegyptus killed their husbands
threne = a song of lamentation + [about his troubles three]
furcht (ger) = fear + Frucht (ger) – fruit + furchte Fruchte (ger) – fear fruits; Aeneid II.49: ‘ Tineo Danaos et dona ferentes(I fear the Greeks, though they bring gifts); Gr nr ‘ ena melo, melo mou’ (one apple, my apple’)
Danaides = Danaids – 50 daughters of Danaus. Danaus commanded each daughter to slay her husband on the marriage night. They all obeyed except Hypermestra, who spared Lynceus. In punishment for their crime the Danaïds were condemned to the endless task of filling with water a vessel that had no bottom + Vergil, Aeneid II. 49.: timeo Danaos [et dona ferentes] (l) – “I fear the Greeks [when they bear gifts]”.
milo = Greek nursery rhyme: ‘ena mêlo, mêlo mou’: ‘one apple, my apple’

l. 15 s Tea for Two; two is three
frai = frei (ger) – free
Frau (ger) = woman

l. 16 L malum: bad; apple; ‘sycophant’ derived from Gr syko, fig; amygdalon
ana = Ana, Anu – earth goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, identical, Standish O’Grady says, with Dana, called in Cormack’s glossary mater deorum hibernensium. In Gaelic ana means “riches,” in Greek ana means, among other things, “back again, anew” + ana (one) (gael) – plenty, prosperity.
mala = mala (male) (gael) – bag, sack + mala (Serbian) – little; missy + malum (l) – bad; apple.
synchopanties = sycophant – informer + sykophantes (gr) – “fig-informer” (one who informed against illegal exporters of figs from Attica).+ [ undergarments]
amygdaleine = amygdaline – resembling an almond +[ almond=shaped section of the brain, the right amygdala is the source of fear and sadness, the left is the reward system]

l. 17 G Obst:fruit; Humpty Dumpty; medlar fruit
lumpkey = lucky + nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty
pumpkin = a stupid self important person

l. 18 Da fra sin fromme; søn: from his pious son; G fromme: pious; a city
slies = on the sly – secretly
Sin = Babylonian moon-god
fromm (ger) = pious + fra sin fromme søn (Danish) – from his pious son.

upin … in = upon – in + FDV: So there you are now they were, the four of them, sitting in their judge’s chambers around their old traditional tables of the law under the auspices of Lolly to talk it all over & over again. Festy and hyacinth and gentian and & not to forget a’duna o’darnel. That was four of them and thank Court now there were no more of them. So pass the push for port sake. Be it now soon. Ah ho! And I knew do you remember his father the same [in his monapoleums] behind the war of the two roses, old Minster York before he got his [paper] dispensation from the poke. I mind the smell of him like the vitriol vetriol works of a windy day & The O’Brine O’Briny rossies, the O’Moyly gracies chaffing his him redface bluchface & playing him pranks. How do you do, North Mister? Get into my way! till they had him the mon timed to the hifork pitch of fit to be tried. Ah, dearo me forsale forsailorshe! Yerra, why’d she heed that old gasometer & his hooping coffin [& his dying boosy cough] & all the boys birds of the south side after her, [[Minxy Cunningham,] jimmies & johnnies to be her jo]? Sure, I well remember him H2CE3, that’d take your breath away. Gob, I knew him well as meself too. Coming heaving up the east-end Kay Wall by the 32 to 11 with his limelooking horses bags, Old Whitehorse the Whiteside Kaffir with his painted voice puffing [out] brown cabbage. [Thaw him a gull, me pawsdeen fiunn!] Gomorro, says ses he, Lankyshy Lankyshies! Bugger ye! ses I, O breezes west! When I had her first when I was in my grandfather & that was up Sycomore Lane. Arrah Nick, ses she, you have the nock, ses she, with your poyhn, ses she, yerynn & I’d sooner sip to yr. mountain dew to kiss me than that old brewer’s belch.
muniment room = a storage room for preservation of family or sometimes official or parochial records, papers, notebooks + The Muniment Room of City Hall, Dublin contains municipal archives going back to the 12th century.
marshalsea – name of 2 Dublin jails, the City Marshalsea (dating from 1704) and the Four Courts Marshalsea (dating from 1580), both for petty debtors.

l. 21  auspices; alpha
suspices = auspices  – patronage and kindly guidance, protection + suspicio (l) – to mistrust.

Solans = Solon (638-558 B.C) – wise Athenian who replaced the severe Draconian laws. The solans are the Four as judges + Solanus (l) – the east wind

thesameagain =the same again – another drink of the same kind as the last

druly = truly
dry – impassive, unemotional, having clear impartial judgement
dring = on the drink – a time or occasion of drinking + dring- (ger) – press, penetrate.
accounting = accourt – to court + according
king’s evelyns = king’s evidence – one who gives evidence for the crown in british criminal proceedings [(notebook 1924): ‘King’s evidence’] + king’s evil – scrofula, tuberculosis of the lymph glands (formerly believed to be curable by royal touch).

kiss the bouc = to kiss the book – i.e. the Bible, New Testament, or Gospels, in taking an oath + bouc (fr) – goat.

l.30 gentian; beetroot; Betsy Ross: Am. woman reputed to have made first Am. flag; petticoat
beetyrossy = rossy (Anglo-Irish) – brazen woman


o’darnel = Dan O’Connell + darnel – a deleterious grass

l.32 pass the port; be it so
were no more of them = song One More Drink for the Four of Us: ‘Glory be to God that there are no more of us / For one of us could drink it all alone’.
push = fish


l.35 monopoly
pantaloons = trousers + pantaloon – the Venetian character in Italian comedy, represented as a lean and foolish old man, wearing spectacles, pantaloons, and slippers.
monopoleums = mono- (gr) – one-, single- + polemos (gr) – war

l. 36  War of the Roses; seamen’s; G PPriester: priest
sheemen = shaman – a priest or priest-doctor among various northern peoples of Asia.
preester = Priester (German) = priester (Dutch) – priest


Page 95

l. 1 papal dispensation; pope; Minos; menace

dispillsation = dispensation – Theol. A religious order or system, conceived as divinely instituted, or as a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs of a particular nation or period of time, as the patriarchal, Mosaic (or Jewish) dispensation, the Christian dispensation.
poke = an annoyingly stupid individual + pope
Minace = Minos – Cretan king, son of Zeus, husband of Pasiphaë, father of Ariadne and Phaedra, patron of Daedalus, who built the labyrinth for him, in which was housed the Minotaur. After death, Minos became a judge in the underworld with Aeacus and Rhadamanthus.

l. 2 York Minster (Cathedral) (Lancashire in .18); Ballybough, district of D (had vitriol works); bock: he-goat
YORK = City, Yorkshire, North England. The archdiocese of York is 2nd only to Canterbury in the hierarchy of the Church of England. St Peter’s Cathedral is usually called the Minster, or York Minster. In the Wars of the Roses, the Anglo-Irish replicated the controversy, with the Butlers (Ormond) supporting York, and the rest of Ireland, led by the Geraldines, supporting Lancaster.


End (end of sentence “York?”) 95.02


100 Words: A few words about the personal exploration of this month’s text 

[These entries are somewhat random, thoughts that arise from reading the text and brief research about the page. These are hardly intended to be academic criticism.]

“Wind broke it. Wave bore it. Reed wrote of it. Syce ran with it. Hand tore it and wild went war.”

There is a children’s riddle about an apple pie. In 1808 “Z” published a version that said, “B bit it, C cried for it, D danced for it, E eyed it, F fiddled for it, G gobbled it, H hid it,….” There are many versions but one by the McLoughlin Brothers is notable because it  

departs from the emphasis on a single noun, focusing on verbs (e.g., give, bit, cut, eat, vow, hate), spiced with a few lines of adjective intent like “dry” and “good and great.” 

Campbell suggests that the Joyce adaptation reveals how the characters will react to the pie-letter: ALP attempting to carry it away, Issy blushing, Shem losing his luster, and Shaun acknowledging his shame. The world will erupt in a conflagration. The tale of the hen and the letter lies just ahead for us. For Joyce, it’s more about the effects of the accusation than about the dubious sin it reveals.


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