Four Experts on Secrets

On page twenty four (lines 170-172) of the Gabler edition of Ulysses,

Ulysses (Gabler Edition) 

You'll find the following diamond nugget of poetic prose:

"Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned".


Upon reading the Joyce quote above, my memory free associates to a Robert Frost poem I memorized from obsessively reading it so much (trying to figure out each thread of its infinitude of possible meanings) rather than from memorizing it intentionally, back in college, called, "The Secret Sits" -- terse two liner of a freight-train-impacting poem -- laden with tomes of plausible contexts and interpretations:

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows

First published in A Witness Tree, in 1942.

A Witness Tree New Poems - Robert Frost


Paul Valery once said (I forget the source), "A man's true secrets are more secret to himself than they are to others."  In other words, don't know thyself, Secreteer, it's too damn painful!

Selected Writings of Paul Valery

"Men with secrets tend to be drawn to each other, not because they want to share what they know but because they need the company of the like-minded, the fellow afflicted." 

So said fellow-afflictee, Don Delillo (who's got a new book, The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, coming out in November this year), and I believe him.  I know the source of this Delillo quote, but I'm not sharing it.  It's a secret.

The Cambridge Companion to Don DeLillo (Cambridge Companions to Literature)  


  1. Great post. Secrets are such a wonderful topic for fiction and just general meditation. I love the anthropomorphism of the secret in the Frost poem- almost chilling!

  2. Thanks, Marie!

    And thanks for pointing out the anthropomorphism. As much as I've thought about the poem over the years, I've never thought of it like that, even though it seems so obvious to consider it like that now that you mention it!

  3. This IS a great post, sir. You'll be reading and reviewing the Delillo, I assume?


  4. Hi Thea,

    I'll probably get around to reading the Delillo eventually. We'll see about the review -- if something clicks with me while I read it, I'll probably come up with something.

    Great seeing you here!



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