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Poem of the week: Ecce Puer by James Joyce

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The death of his father and birth of his grandson prompted a return to poetry for Joyce and perhaps his finest work in the medium

Bloomsday is 16 June, and what better poem to bring to a celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses, with its son-haunted protagonist Leopold Bloom, than Joyce's powerful lyric, Ecce Puer?

Though a collection of romantic, song-like short poems, Chamber Music (1907), was Joyce's first published book, he soon rejected poetry's sentimental temptations in favour of the objective prose style of Dubliners. Chamber Music, he rightly declared, was a young man's book. There was a later collection, Pomes Penyeach, after which Joyce published only occasional poems; many of them comic or satirical, some touched by a cruder form of the exuberant wordplay associated with his mature fiction. Ecce Puer, written in February 1932, is the outstanding achievement among them.

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