Poetry: “Simples” by James Joyce

Reading. Writing. Literature. Blogging. James Joyce.

I am trying to focus on the idea of simplicity this week, because so many of my favorite writers write simply, from Kurt Vonnegut, jr. to Ernest Hemingway (I know, the cliched lot), but other authors I like do, too, including Chuck Palahniuk and J.K. Rowling and Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams…and a lot of others.

It is also important that I focus on simplicity this week because writing simply is not easy, and it is not something somebody does willy-nilly either. It takes a long time to learn this, I assure you. To write simply is to write concisely and that is a skill you must develop over time. I never seem to write as simply as I want because I spend more time trying to write quickly—but I am working on it (always), as you should, too.

Today, we are going to look at a poem by James Joyce that discusses a different kind of “simple,” and how he thinks about it in the context of nature and on a particular moonlit eve.

“Simples” by James Joyce

O bella, bionda

Sei come l’onda

Of cool sweet dew and radiance mild

The moon a web of silence weaves

In the still garden where a child

Gathers the simple salad leaves.

A moondew stars her hanging hair

And moonlight kisses her young brow

And, gathering, she sings an air:

Fair as the wave is, fair, art thou!

Be mine, I pray, a waxen ear

To shield me from her childish croon

And mine a shielded heart for her

Who gathers simples of the moon.

Works Cited

Joyce, James. “Simples by James Joyce | Tutto  Sciolto by James… | Poetry Magazine.” Poetry Magazine, 12 Sept. 2021, poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=13689.