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This selection of the major poems James Joyce published in his lifetime is accompanied by his only surviving play, Exiles.
Joyce is most celebrated for his remarkable novel Ulysses, and yet he was also a highly accomplished poet. Chamber Music is his debut collection of lyrical love poems, which he intended to be set to music; in it, he enlivens the styles of the Celtic Revival with his own brand of playful irony. Pomes Penyeach, a collection written while Joyce was working on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, sounds intimately autobiographical notes of passion and betrayal that would go on to resonate through the rest of his work. Joyce’s other poems include the moving “Ecce Puer,” written on the birth of his grandson, and his fiery satires “The Holy Office” and “Gas from a Burner.”
Exiles was written after Joyce had left Ireland, never to return; it is a richly nuanced drama that reflects a grappling with the state of his own marriage and career as he was about to embark on the writing of Ulysses. In its tale of an unconventional couple involved in a love triangle, Exiles engages Joycean themes of envy and jealousy, freedom and love, men and women, and the complicated relationship between an artist and his homeland.