James Joyce, ‘Dooleysprudence’ (1916)

[Note: Poem based on ‘Mr. Martin J. Dooley’, a satirical mouthpiece invented by Chicago-born newspaper writer Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936). Dooley is a saloon-keeper whose pronouncements on current events, both local and international, couched in a vivid, albeit questionable “Irish” dialect, were as humorous as they were pointed, according to Preston Neal Jones. Mr Dooley was ill received in Ireland but well-loved by the American Irish. (Note derived Theatre notice for Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, given at Seattle Public Theater - online; accessed 09.06.2016.]

See Herbert Gorman, James Joyce [1940]: ‘Questions settled by force were never settled for him. they were merely brutally silenced for the moment. Tomorrow the same question would be asked again.’ (Gorman 241; quoted in John Whittier-Ferguson, Framing Pieces: Design of the Gloss in Joyce, Woolf, and Pound (Oxford: OUP 1996, p.26.)


Who is the man when all the gallant nations run to war
  Goes home to have his dinner by the very first cablecar
And as he eats his cantelope contorts himself in mirth
  To read the blatant bulletins of the rulers of the earth?

It’s Mr Dooley,
        Mr Dooley,
The coolest chap our country ever knew
        ‘They are out to collar
        The dime and dollar’
  Says Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the funny fellow who declines to go to church
  Since pope and priest and parson left the poor man in the lurch
And taught their flocks the only way to save all human souls
  Was piercing human bodies through with dumdum bulletholes?

It’s Mr Dooley,
       Mr Dooley,
The mildest man our country ever knew
       ‘Who will release us
       From jingo Jesus’
  Prays Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the meek philosopher who doesn’t care a damn
  About the yellow peril or problem of Siam
And disbelieves that British Tar is water from life’s fount
  And will not gulp the gospel of the German on the Mount?

It’s Mr Dooley,
       Mr Dooley,
The broadest brain our country ever knew
       ‘The curse of Moses
       On both your houses’
  Cries Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the cheerful imbecile who lights his long chibouk
  With pages of the pandect, penal code and Doomsday Book
And wonders why bald justices are bound by law to wear
  A toga and a wig made out of someone else’s hair?

It’s Mr Dooley,
       Mr Dooley,
The finest fool our country ever knew
       ‘They took that toilette
       From Pontius Pilate’
Thinks Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the man who says he’ll go the whole and perfect hog
  Before he pays the income tax or license for a dog
And when he licks a postage stamp regards with smiling scorn
  The face of king or emperor or snout of unicorn?

It’s Mr Dooley,
        Mr Dooley,
The wildest wag our country ever knew
        ‘O my poor tummy
        His backside gummy!’
Moans Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Who is the tranquil gentleman who won’t salute the State
   Or serve Nebuchadnezzar or proletariat
But thinks that every son of man has quite enough to do
   To paddle down the stream of life his personal canoe?

It’s Mr Dooley,
       Mr Dooley,
The wisest wight our country ever knew
     ‘Poor Europe ambles
     Like sheep to shambles’
Sighs Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.

-James Joyce, 1916.

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