Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The Heroics of Mind and Space

...His mother said:

-O, Stephen will apologise.

Dante said:

-O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.

This capsule of utterance, which comes at the climax of the short first passage (or first independent "poem" of the book, as Fisher might assert) that Joyce presents to us, defines the heroic quest that "Stephen Hero" (and/or his latent identity as mythic Daedalus) must undertake. He is, in this instance, bound by a strict commandment from "above" (from the towering grown-ups above him, from the air-borne, attacking eagles), from the poets of the past , and - most superficially from his elders, to perform an act of "apology". Stephen seals this cosmic agreement with his little song:

Pull out his eyes,



Pull out his eyes.


Pull out his eyes,

Pull out his eyes,


Stephen internalizes his predicament or legacy - by chanting the words that descend to him from layers of higher authority. He shapes the received words with his own voice (whether it be "out loud" or only inside his head), compresses /extractions phrases from the longer syntax, and utilizes rhyme in a patterned repetition. (In short, he has applied a "craft".)

If his...

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