THE HOLY OFFICE by James Joyce (1904) Myself unto myself will give This name Katharsis-Purgative. I, who dishevelled ways forsook To hold the poets' grammar-book, Bringing to tavern and to brothel The mind of witty Aristotle, Lest bards in the attempt should err Must here be my interpreter: Wherefore receive now from my lip Peripatetic scholarship. To enter heaven, travel hell, Be piteous or terrible One positively needs the ease, Of plenary indulgences. For every true-born mysticist A Dante is, unprejudiced, Who safe at ingle-nook, by proxy, Hazards extremes of heterodoxy Like him who finds a joy at table, Pondering the uncomfortable. Ruling one's life by common sense How can one fail to be intense? But I must not accounted be One of that mumming company-- With him who hies him to appease His giddy dames' frivolities While they console him when be whinges With gold-embroidered Celtic fringes-- Or him who sober all the day Mixes a naggin in his play - Or him whose conduct 'seems to own', His preference for a man of 'tone'-- Or him who plays the rugged patch To millionaires in Hazelhatch But weeping after holy fast Confesses all his pagan past-- Or him who will his hat unfix Neither to malt nor crucifix But show to all that poor-dressed be His high Castilian courtesy-- Or him who loves his Master dear-- Or him who drinks his pint in fear-- Or him who once when snug abed Saw Jesus Christ without his head And tried so hard to win for us The long-lost works of Eschylus. But all these men of whom I speak Make me the sewer of their clique. That they may dream their dreamy dreams I carry off their filthy streams For I can do those things for them Through which I lost my diadem, Those things for which Grandmother Church Left me severely in the lurch. Thus I relieve their timid arses, Perform my office of Katharsis. My scarlet leaves them white as wool Through me they purge a bellyful. To sister mummers one and all I act as vicar-general And for each maiden, shy and nervous, I do a similar kind service. For I detect without surprise That shadowy beauty in her eyes, The 'dare not' of sweet maidenhood That answers my corruptive 'would'. Whenever publicly we meet She never seems to think of it; At night when close in bed she lies And feels my hand between her thighs My little love in light attire Knows the soft flame that is desire. But Mammon places under ban The uses of Leviathan And that high spirit ever wars On Mammon's countless servitors Nor can they ever be exempt From his taxation of contempt. So distantly I turn to view The shamblings of that motley crew, Those souls that hate the strength that mine has Steeled in the school of old Aquinas. Where they have crouched and crawled and prayed I stand the self-doomed, unafraid, Unfellowed, friendless and alone, Indifferent as the herring-bone, Firm as the mountain-ridges where I flash my antlers on the air. Let them continue as is meet To adequate the balance-sheet. Though they may labour to the grave My spirit shall they never have Nor make my soul with theirs at one Till the Mahamanvantara be done: And though they spurn me from their door My soul shall spurn them evermore.