In Westland row he halted before the window of the Belfast and Oriental Tea Company and read the legends of leadpapered packets: choice blend, finest quality, family tea. Rather warm. Tea. Must get some from Tom Kernan. Couldn’t ask him at a funeral, though. While his eyes still read blandly he took off his hat quietly inhaling his hairoil and sent his right hand with slow grace over his brow and hair. Very warm morning. Under their dropped lids his eyes found the tiny bow of the leather headband inside his high grade ha. Just there. His right hand came down into the bowl of his hat. His fingers found quickly a card behind the headband and transferred it to his waistcoat pocket.
So warm. His right hand once more more slowly went over his brow and hair. Then he put on his hat again, relieved: and read again: choice blend, made of the finest Ceylon brands. The far east. Lovely spot it must be: the garden of the world, big lazy leaves to float about on, cactuses, flowery meads, snaky lianas they call them. Wonder is it like that. Those Cinghalese lobbing about in the sun in dolce far niente, not doing a hand’s turn all day. Sleep six months out of twelve. Too hot to quarrel. Influence of the climate. Lethargy. Flowers of idleness. The air feeds most. Azotes. Hothouse in Botanic gardens. Sensitive plants. Waterlilies. Petals too tired to. Sleeping sickness in the air. Walk on roseleaves. Imagine trying to eat tripe and cowheel. Where was the chap I saw in that picture somewhere? Ah yes, in the dead sea floating on his back, reading a book with a parasol open. Couldn’t sink if you tried: so thick with salt. Because the weight of the water, no, the weight of the body in the water is equal to the weight of the what? Or is it the volume is equal to the weight? It’s a law something like that. Vance in High school cracking his fingerjoints, teaching. The college curriculum. Cracking curriculum. What is weight really when you say the weight? Thirtytwo feet per second per second. Law of falling bodies: per second per second. They all fall to the ground. The earth. It’s the force of gravity of the earth is the weight.
There is a lot of chatter about tea in the first paragraph. Joyce seems to be wanting to make the reader hungry or thirsty at least once per page. I looked up the Belfast and Oriental Tea Company and found a site that finds illustrations for the book similar to what I’m doing, but they are pulling their images from different historical photographs, and illustrations. (source) The picture they had for that particular passage is actually St Andrews Church on Westland Row (img source), the street Bloom is on when he passes the tea shop. I found it interesting that Joyce refers to Blooms hat as his “high grade ha”. There is a compelling article that states he might be refering to the novel itself, “high grade” because of its deft use of phrasing and several differnt languages and “ha” because of the trivial nature of the prose. (source) The whole second paragraph is devoted to the concept of “dolce far niente” which means “pleasant idleness”. Bloom indulges himself in the thought, although he seems to be a little put off by the fact that he wouldn’t be able to keep up his heavy diet in a tropical climate. The imagery of the man floating in the Dead Sea is a compelling image, so that’s what I chose to draw.