The Lass of Aughrim

Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks. While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead.Joyce

What time and effort we expend on change. What vanity in supposing the positivity of that change on others. What irony in expending that effort on a change that need not be. The nerve and sentimentality with which we evangelise that change.
We have examined enough to know what change must come. We are found wanting in the scale of our ambition.

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