Mulligan's poem in Telemachus strives to offend Catholic sensibilities twice in one line: "My mother's a jew, my father's a bird." Christians have long thought of Jesus and his blessed mother as something other than Jews, and when they put doves in Annunciation scenes they do not think of the Holy Spirit literally as a randy bird. The second joke returns in Proteus, with the dove demoted to a mere "pigeon," when Stephen recalls a work called "La Vie de Jésus by M. Léo Taxil."

JH 2014

Annunciation by Auguste Pichon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

A proud king pigeon and his satisfied mate. Source: Wikimedia Commons.