Oscar Berg imagined the face of his friend, like the

phantom of a dream, the face of a severed head,

crowned on the brows by its stiff black upright hair

as by an iron crown. It was a priest-like face

and Oscar, remembering how in past times he had told

his friend of all the tumults and unrest and longings

in his soul, day after day and night by night,

only to be answered by his friend’s listening silence, would

have told himself that it was the face of a priest

who heard confessions of those whom he could not absolve.


Paraphrases from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.