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 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.