As Open Culture explains, this rare 1924 recording of Joyce reading from the Aeolus episode of the novel was arranged and financed by his friend and publisher Sylvia Beach, who brought him by taxi to the HMV (His Master’s Voice) gramophone studio in the Paris suburb of Billancourt. She writes in her memoir, Shakespeare & Company:
Joyce had chosen the speech in the Aeolus episode, the only passage that could be lifted out of Ulysses, he said, and the only one that was “declamatory” and therefore suitable for recital. He had made up his mind, he told me, that this would be his only reading from Ulysses.
I have an idea that it was not for declamatory reasons alone that he chose this passage from Aeolus. I believe that it expressed something he wanted said and preserved in his own voice. As it rings out–”he lifted his voice above it boldly”–it is more, one feels, than mere oratory.
Pair with these rare 1935 illustrations for Ulysses by none other than Henri Matisse.
A rain there fell upon the sea,
And I, a drop, went heavily,
The others angled past his shore,
Found his body, escaped the moor.
I cast down beside a tree
That leaned and asked me tenderly,
If I could see him reaching out,
His bole not wavering with doubt.
Most of the rain is drunk by the sea,
But what comes near I take for me,
To feed my boughs and deepen my roots,
For I know what plays on history’s flutes,
That while man plays upon the sea,
When he longs, he longs for me.