Pomes Penyeach by James Joyce


Although best-known as a novelist, James Joyce produced three volumes of poetry during his lifetime including Pomes Penyeach. The small, simple booklet was published on 7 July 1927 by Shakespeare and Company, the Paris publishers and bookshop owned by Sylvia Beach, a friend and patron of Joyce. Arranged chronologically, all 13 poems are accompanied by the date and location of composition. This reveals that they were written over a 20-year period in Dublin, Ireland, Trieste, Italy, Zurich, Switzerland, and Paris, France.

As a publication, Pomes Penyeach displays something of Joyce’s playful humour. ‘Pomes’ plays on ‘poems’ and ‘pommes’ (French for ‘apple’); the booklet was covered in a pale apple-green paper, which biographer Richard Ellmann reveals to be the same shade as Joyce’s favourite apple, the Calville. [1] Sold for 12 pennies (1 shilling) or 12 francs – ‘penyeach’ = ‘a penny each’ – the addition of a thirteenth poem makes the collection a ‘tilly’, the Irish term equivalent to a ‘baker’s dozen’ and the title of the opening poem. The colophon (publisher’s notice) reveals that thirteen special edition copies were printed on Dutch handmade paper.

[1] Richard Ellmann, James Joyce: New and Revised Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 593.

Full title:
Pomes Penyeach
1927, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l'Odéon, Paris
Shakespeare and Company
James Joyce
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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