Ship of the street

Near the end of Eumaeus Stephen and Bloom come upon "a horse, dragging a sweeper." Many European cities at the turn of the last century employed horse-drawn contraptions to sweep up the manure produced by all the horses on the streets. This is one of those devices, "brushing a long swathe of mire up," and at the end of the episode the horse pulling the machine adds three of its own "turds" to the mess it is wading through—a distinctly creaturely action. But Joyce also sprinkles the passage with some strange mechanical details that threaten to turn this straining, defecating animal into no less a machine than the carriage it pulls, making it a "ship of the street." These symbolic colorations have the outlandish effect of making the horse reenact the sinking of the Titanic.

JH 2019

Chromolithograph showing a Parisian horse-drawn street-sweeper of the late 19th or early 20th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Black and white print image, held in the U.S. Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division, of Titanic Sinking, a 1912 painting by Willy Stöwer. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Beresford Place curving around the back of the Custom House in a 1920 Bartholomew map of Dublin held in the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center of the Boston Public Library. Source:

View southward along Beresford Place, with Liberty Hall (right) and Butt Bridge (center) visible, in a photograph of unknown date. Source:

1908 photograph of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, 1st Baron Beresford, from a page in Queen Alexandra's Christmas Gift Book, Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Admiral Sir John Poo Beresford, 1st Baronet Beresford, from a page in The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-1832, Source: