Smoke of tea

Twice in Calypso, Bloom happily associates the smell of tea and cooking food with the warmth of Molly's bed. After being afflicted with a vision of old age on Dorset Street, he turns into Eccles Street and conjures up a vision of his bedroom to cheer himself up: "To smell the gentle smoke of tea, fume of the pan, sizzling butter. Be near her ample bedwarmed flesh. Yes, yes." Having returned home, he prepares breakfast for his wife, takes it up to her, and enjoys the scene in actuality: "The warmth of her couched body rose on the air, mingling with the fragrance of the tea she poured." The pleasurable associations between a woman's warm presence and the smells of warm food probably owe something to Homer's description of Calypso's cave.

JH 2017

Oil on canvas painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder, ca. 1616, of Odysseus and Calypso in her caves on Ogygia, held in the Johnny van Haeften Gallery, London. Source: Wikimedia Commons.