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Music in Ulysses’ Sirens-chapter In James Joyce’s masterpiece ‛Ulysses&­#82­17; the topic of music is present throughout the book, yet the Sirens chapter represents the greatest concentration of music, which is why I want to focus on the music in this chapter only. In Sirens Joyce tried to combine literature and music to one greater art. Music can be found as action, as theme and topic for discussion or thoughts, as musical lyrics and noises. In my essay I want to look at the structure of the chapter, with a special…
Ulysses by James Joyce Analysis PUBLICATION : Ulysses is a novel by the Irish authorJames Joyce. It is an experimental novel in the modernist tradition. It was first serialised in parts in an American journal in 1920, but it was censored because of obscenity. Then the ban was lifted and it was published in its entirety in February 1922, in Paris. TITLE : Ulysses is the latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homers poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between its characters and events and those of the poem. Joyce makes…

 “Ulysses by the Merlion”: The Nation-Building

Singapore society is very well-known for its multiculturalism and the Merlion, its tourism symbol. These two things are related well in the context of nation-building, a nationalism movement in postcolonial society. Edwin Thumboo, a famous Singaporean poet, wrote a poem, “Ulysses by the Merlion”, bonding the nation with its people in order to evoke the nationalism movement in 1979.

Edwin Thumboo is a Singaporean, a mixed of Tamil – Chinese – Peranakan, born in 1933. Thumboo is an unofficial poet laureate of Singapore as he is regarded as a pioneer of English literature in Singapore; his writing style is nationalistic themes as showing out on his famous poem of Singapore icon, “Ulysses by the Merlion”.

Thumboo has lived a comfortable life since his childhood; he is well-educated, studied in English school and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honour majoring in English literature from University of Malaya. According to his biography, he was growing up among Singapore social development period: the Japanese occupation of Singapore, the British control, the federation of Malaya, and now the republic of Singapore.

With his mixed parentage, he was sometimes marginalised, and it caused a determination of his self-respect and multiculturalism in being a part of nation-building of Singapore.

Edwin Thumboo’s works related to the social sphere was first appeared in mid 1970s, the age of Singapore’s independence; the poem “Ulysses by the Merlion” was also written in this period. Before Singapore becomes a republic of Singapore, Singapore was a state under the federation of Malaya after obtained independence from British Empire in 1963. The separation of Singapore from federation of Malaya was socio-politic issues that Singapore itself had a higher potential in economic, and, mainly, the unequal treatment of ethnics in Malaysia – the Malays are culturally and literally the majority, and serves the first priority in federation of Malaya, while Singapore has multi-ethnics, though the majority is Chinese and serves multiculturalism.

The Singapore’s independence from Malaysia came in 1965; as a new country, Singapore must seek for the acceptance of its sovereignty from the international and plan a stable infrastructure as soon as possible, it became a member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth in that year. In 1970, with the fall of British Empire, British withdrew the arm force from Singapore; significantly, this is the real start of Singapore’s independence that the nation must live on its own and this is the start of a substantial nation-building project of Singapore.

The nation-building is to strengthen security of the state. For Singapore, the term ‘nation-building’ is proper than ‘state-building’ since the most controversial issue of Singapore since the time of federation of Malaya is the ethnics’ issue rather than the governance system which Singapore already has a strong base since 1955; Singapore has become a state before a nation due to the political convenience of British root.....[read full text]

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According to Benedict Anderson, as he noted ‘Print-Capitalism’ is a vehicle for linking disparate communities or groups of people together and creating ‘particular solidarities’ based upon a shared printed language. The written word ‘made it possible’ for rapidly growing numbers of people to think about themselves, and relate themselves to others, in profoundly new ways’.

These new ways include of building a national consciousness, images of homogeneity are then maintained by ‘creating a community out of signs, not sounds.’ (Anderson: 1991) It supports the function of the central language writing work as a potential process of the nation-building as it draws peoples nearer and breaks the barrier of language without destroying their cultures; consequently it also supports Thumboo’s idea to produce English literatures in Singapore in order to merge peoples together.

As a first generation of Malayan poet, he learned poetry tradition from the western tradition. His language use is a Standard English; the allusion use is also reminding the western tradition such as topless towers of Ilium’s.

The poem “Ulysses by the Merlion” reflects ideas of nation-building, history and myth and, and multicultural society, and tries to establish the Merlion as a cultural identity of Singapore. Actually, Merlion is a symbol of Singapore tourism board recently established in 1964; it was not any national ancient symbol of Singapore at all.

Merlion is a mythical character, a half-lion half-mermaid as described its appearance in the poem as “But this lion of the sea, Salt-maned, scaly, wondrous of tail,” (15).  How the Merlion became a national personification of Singapore: Edwin Thumboo is also a part of this construction.

The poem can be considered as a celebration of Merlion, and a part of nation-building project as it tries to personify the Merlion as the Singaporean identity and telling the background and landscape of Singapore since its proper time in the world history’s pages. The poem can be divided into three parts: history, present, and future.

The poem is told by Ulysses, through his visions, but the voice is Thumboo’s himself as he telling the emergence to the prediction future of Singapore. While reading the poem, the readers get a picture of bored and homesick Ulysses, a noble king and traveller, suddenly amazed with charisma the Merlion when he reached Singapore – at the mouth of Singapore River to be précised, though he has travelled a long journey, facing exotic creatures in each place, fighting and winning over the notable powerful gods as

“.....

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Moreover, Ulysses himself means a myth which no one could compete with, so the western is the civilised one with no competitors in building myth, the Maritime. On the other hand, as the real voice is of Thumboo, a nationalist, it is also said no one could compare to Singapore as well, because Singapore is also a new myth which written by Singaporean as mentioned in “Met strange people singing new myths, made new myths myself” (13), signalling that Singapore is a coming phenomenon of world history.

In the line 14 and 15, Ulysses described the appearance of the Merlion; Merlion itself was designed to personify the land history of Singapore, here Thumboo uses synecdoche: “Salt-maned” is a lion – Singapura, and “wondrous of tail” is fish tail – Temasek. In the line 21 and 22 again using synecdoche to figure the Merlion but this turn they do not refer to the land history but signify the powerfulness of Singapore as “half-beast, half-fish, this powerful creature of land and sea”: beast symbolises the strength and intimidation and the owner of land, fish means living naturally in the sea and the owner of the sea.

Moving on to the next part, Ulysses starts describing the landscape of life and city as many ethnic groups settled in Singapore and not only the indigenous group that made Singapore prosper but the settlers and the sea, together, prospered Singapore; multi-ethnics living together in a limited space, they lived peacefully in the city of tall building:

Peoples settled here,

Brought to this island

The bounty of these seas,

Built towers topless as Ilium’s.

The towers of Ilium do not mean only tall building, but also the high civilisation as in Greek time. The tall buildings do well in both meanings of high civilisation and of illustrating a limited space of Singapore; tall buildings mean the strong civilisation: high technology in architecture and engineering, high standard of education, and wealth.

Singapore is recognised as a city of commerce and industry as noticeably described in line 27 and 28 that “they make, they server, they buy, they sell” without mentioning of agriculture. Then Ulysses tells readers about Singapore society – a harmonious and peaceful multiculturalism society:

Despite unequal ways,

Together they mutate,

Explore the edges of harmony,

Search for a centre;

Have changed their gods,

Kept some memory of their race

In prayer, laughter, the way

Their women dress and greet.

They hold the bright, the beautiful,

Good ancestral dreams

.....

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Then in last seven lines, Ulysses predicts the future of Singapore, actually, Thumboo’s hope:

“Perhaps having dealt in things,

Surfeited on them,

Their spirits yearn again for images,

Adding to the dragon, phoenix,

Garuda, naga those horses of the sun,

This lion of the sea,

This image of themselves.”

He says that with the unite soul of Singaporean “Their spirits yearn again for images” Singapore will be another myth among those well know mythical creatures like Garuda, naga, dragon, phoenix, and horses of the sun, these mentioned mythical creatures represent the countries that have a long history and prosper in international level such as dragon – China, Garuda – Thailand (Siam was prosper in that time compared to other countries in the same region); Singapore is coming.

Finally, it emphasises again the Merlion as the personification of Singapore in “This lion of the sea, This image of themselves.”

The key message of the poem, a nation-building, demonstrates the post colonialism in an aspect of how to deal with the problems left by the coloniser: Singapore was a state before becoming a nation; and the settler people have less emotional involvement to Singapore rather than their real motherland - multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism issues.

To solve these problems is to emerge the nationalism in ‘Singaporean. In this poem, there are three interesting points about the nation-building: creating cultural identity, the use of Ulysses, and .....

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In doing this, peoples are gradually drawn nearer with a common background though just a little, it is building involvement between the settled people and land they living in together at the present not elsewhere. And it is considered to be a proper way in nation-building, making myth, since peoples already had no strong involvement with the land, so making myth has no tradition to concern upon, except talking the people’s insight – sharing experience and being significant.

The Merlion is made a use of its own self to be Singapore cultural identity: the symbol of land history, the land Singaporean living together, the powerful creature of the sea as the powerful nation of overseas commerce, the myth character as myth meant great and notability.

Although, the poem does not intend to rewrite the history of western founded modern Singapore, the poet takes advantages from this Orientalist point of view in order to invent the magnificence and pride of Singapore instead. The intertextuality to the Ulysses, too, shows the western education he granted as he takes advantages of Ulysses character, a symbol of the legend traveller who striving to seek and not to yield, as an explorer finding Singapore and stunned with this ‘new myth’ which Ulysses should not be stunned since he is an experienced traveller and has seen much of the world.

Not only Ulysses’s characteristic of legend traveller is used in this poem, but also the intertexting to the poem “Ulysses” by Lord Alfred Tennyson which signifying the celebration of British imperialism. In this term, Ulysses means a characteristic of non-stop progression in seeking prosperity and fame of the nation as the British in Maritime. As Thumboo wrote this poem in 1979, the British Empire had fallen; it can be considered as a reverse colonisation that Singapore is the next myth, the rising phenomenon of world history by the profession in commerce replacing the place of British as supporting in “Met strange people singing new myths, made new myths myself.” (12-13) And the surprise of Ulysses is also a well support to the rising of powerful Singapore, since he has seen a lot of the great of the world, even gods could not surprise him, but this Merlion does.

Ulysses in this poem demonstrates the Singapore history, the value and power of Singapore as the western chose to benefit from Singapore and Singapore stuns Ulysses, the character of progressiveness, and  , this legend said himself as “adding to the dragon, phoenix.” (45), the powerful Singapore in the future among the world powers.

Another distinct point made on this poem is landscape of Singapore. Ulysses describes Singapore through his eyes as a peaceful diverse society – “Despite unequal ways, together they mutate, explore the edges of harmony” (29-31). It praises the good governance of multiculturalism society which in other decolonized countries is an unsolvable issue; it aims to evoke .....

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But this lion of the sea
Salt-maned, scaly, wondrous of tail,
Touched with power, insistent
On this brief promontory .
Puzzles.

Nothing, nothing in my days
Foreshadowed this
Half-beast, half-fish,
This powerful creature of land and sea.



Peoples settled here,
Brought to this island
The bounty of these seas,
Built towers topless as Ilium's.

They make, they serve,
They buy, they sell.

Despite unequal ways,
Together they mutate,
Explore the edges of harmony,
Search for a centre;
Have changed their gods,
Kept some memory of their race
In prayer, laughter, the way
Their women dress and greet.
They hold the bright, the beautiful,
Good ancestral dreams
Within new visions,
So shining, urgent,
Full of what is now.

Perhaps having dealt in things,
Surfeited on them,
Their spirits yearn again for images,
Adding to the dragon, phoenix,
Garuda, naga those horses of the sun,
This lion of the sea,
This image of themselves.


                                    Ed.....



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