James Joyce


Literary Tattoos: Ulysses James Joyce

“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

- Molly Bloom in Ulysses by James Joyce


  1. Elliott batTzedek says

    this is so damn beautiful it nearly makes me cry. The quote, the placement, thinking about what it means to go in the world everyday wearing this front and center. Wow.

  2. drunkkidcatholic says

    i LOVE the placement. i wish i was brave enough to get a tattoo there. ive been toying with the idea of getting "well-behaved women seldom make history" across my chest. :sigh: someday. maybe.

  3. says

    This is incredible, truly.

    I adore your tattoo, it is timeless and beautiful.

    Even to someone who has not yet read Ulysses, the words are infinitely gorgeous. Inspiring beyond belief.

  4. Molly says

    It's sad you think you have to use a tattoo to become more interesting/beautiful. Tattoos seem like permanent scars reminding you of what you thought you wanted for a very brief period of your life…

    Oh well…as long as you're happy in your small-minded sad little world :)

  5. jennifer says

    wow molly. Even I(someone who would probably never get a tattoo) can appreciate the beauty .

    Maybe if you read the book you'd understand or maybe you should try getting out of your own "“small-minded sad little world” and respected people's differences.

  6. says

    Whilst prominent when taken in context, I feel that the words lose their meaning here.

    To keep this short, I find that it has purpose, but the actual result is borderline tacky by way of its application.

    That is a shame. And whilst I respect the intended aim, and the views of those who like it, for me it seems a little lost.

    • me says

      I’m with you. If you don’t know Joyce, this reads really, well, wrong. I can only imagine how people would read it in the country where I live–Joyce isn’t very well know here and people would see this as a sexual come on.

  7. anti-molly says

    I typed out a long derisive comment on the idiocy of Molly's response. But I have decided not to feed the troll.

    This tattoo is beautiful. Giving life to the words we love is one of the the most important acts any human can take part in.

  8. Some honkey says

    Sadly, poetry often escapes me. I don't understand the deeper meaning behind this passage (probably rightly so, since I haven't read the book). What is the purpose of the improper syntax and lack of punctuation? And why is the word "yes" sporadically strewn throughout the sentence?

  9. Mergatroid says

    That will look great when you are about 70.

    While we can all agree Joyce is an amazing writer, tattoos are a just SO contrived. They aren't original or unique anymore…they really aren't and they are mostly done by middle class white people to give them some idea of an identity or sense of importance…..Do we have to steal everything from indigenous populations of the world!? I don't think Joyce would be impressed one bit. He would probably think just one more lemming…..

  10. says

    @ some honky–

    This passage is a love-making scene, Joyce wrote it with this strange syntax to capture the breathless feeling of the truly joyful sexual experience.

  11. Amy says

    I love this. I absolutely fucking love it. I have six tattoos but don't have it in me to get a chest piece. But if I did … it would be just like this. And I haven't read this, but the words are gorgeous. Breathtaking. Color me jealous.

  12. S-not-green says

    anonymous, I should point out that the lady in question is not engaging in sexual intercourse. She is, er, wanking. It is beautifully rendered by the greatest novelist of the 20thC. But love-making it is not, in any conventional sense, unless self-love.

  13. jess says

    this. this is so, so beautiful. I've been wanting to read Ulysses for a long time, wow, i love this quote.

  14. Brendan says

    In response to "Some Honkey" who asked what the passage means, and why the syntax… it's a mix of things. On a basic level, it's emulating the stream of Molly Bloom's thought. More deeply, it is predictive of hypertext, it is a new way of writing and reading/receiving words, where we see that the meaning can be shifted based upon placement of punctuation, which can change the entire sentiment and feeling. Finally, though, the final "Yes" here ends with a period, making it unquestionably definitive.

    Why Yes? Because in this final chapter of the book, after men and women have been running around Dublin on June 16th, 1904 attempting to be metaphysicians who know the way behind all things and will compete in the human world to prove it, Molly puts a cap on it all by simply saying "Fuck an answer to your question 'Why?'" The answer to Why? can only be "Yes." The previous chapter showed her husband's brilliant take on the universe, which brings empiricism and beauty to new lengths and heights, and so this final chapter is the only possible way it could have gone.

  15. kiki says

    this is one of my favorite passages of all time. the font of this tattoo is beautiful. i'm not exactly a fan of the placement, but i still love it!

  16. russhorn says

    wonderful tattoo. were there other quotes in the running from Ulysses and have you read it? i would presume so….

  17. Finn. Again! says

    @S-not-green. Lady Bloom is not wanking. She has been woken by her husband as he came to bed (sleeping head to feet I might add) and she is recalling when she said Yes to his proposal of marriage. If you don't know what you are talking about keep your mouth shut (and clearly you need to read the book again (or did you just by the cliff's notes?)). The tat is beautiful and inspiring just as the book is.


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