Click to view the track list for CD #1
James Joyce at the Piano in Paris, 1939 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
CD #1 Songs
Artwork for CD #1 cover

James Joyce Quote
Bid adieu, adieu, adieu from Chamber Music (#xi) is believed to be the only poem in the suite to have been set to an air composed by James Joyce himself.
James Joyce Unquote

Click to play music clip of track 1

From CD #1:
Bid Adieu to Girlish Days

Musical arrangement by Edmund Pendleton;
words and air by James Joyce

Song Lyrics

From Chamber Music by James Joyce


Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,*
Bid adieu to girlish days,
Happy Love is come to woo
Thee and woo thy girlish ways —
The zone that doth become thee fair,
The snood upon thy yellow hair.

When thou hast heard his name upon
The bugles of the cherubim
Begin thou softly to unzone
Thy girlish bosom unto him
And softly to undo the snood
That is the sign of maidenhood.

*To be pronounced "adioo" by the singer, according to Pendleton, since that is how Joyce pronounced it.

Notes on the Song

A "snood" is a type of headband or fillet for the hair, traditionally worn by young unmarried women of Scotland and northern England. The documented history of this word in print dates back to at least the 8th century. Sir Walter Scott explains in a note to Lady of the Lake (1810):

The snood, or riband, with which a Scottish lass braided her hair, had an emblematical signification, and applied to her maiden character. It was exchanged for the curch, toy, or coif, when she passed, by marriage, into the matron state. But if the damsel was so unfortunate as to lose pretensions to the name of maiden, without gaining a right to that of matron, she was neither permitted to use the snood, nor advanced to the graver dignity of the curch. In old Scottish songs there occur many sly allusions to such misfortune; as in the old words to the popular tune of "Ower the muir amang the heather":

Down amang the broom, the broom,
Down amang the broom, my dearie,
The lassie lost her silken snood,
That gard her greet till she was wearie.

Thus, the phrase "The lassie lost her silken snood" would have been used to signify that she was no longer a virgin, yet not a wife.

Ironically, despite the distinctly Elizabethan atmospherics pervading the poems that make up Chamber Music, the word does not appear anywhere either in Shakespeare or the King James Bible (though it abounds in Scott). Indeed, women of that era did not actually wear snoods per se, but rather something similar, known as a "caul." To learn more on this topic, visit the copiously illustrated Snood page of Ye Olde Tudor & Elizabethan Head Shoppe.

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