While James Joyce
was working on Finnegans Wake
, he wanted to insert references to Scandinavian
languages and literature, hiring five teachers of Norwegian. Bull was the first one. Joyce wanted to read Norwegian works in the original language, including Peter Andreas Munch
's Norrøne Gude- og Heltesagn
Tales of Gods and Heroes). He was looking for puns and weird associations across the barriers of language, which was something Bull well understood. Lines from Bull's poems echo through "this spider's web of words", as Joyce himself called Finnegans Wake
, and Bull himself materializes under the name "Olaph the Oxman", a pun on his surname.
Scuse us, chorley guy! You toller-day donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty an-glease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.Let us swop hats and excheck a few strong verbs weak oach ea-ther yapyazzard abast the blooty creeks.
Then we'll have a free trade Gaels' band and mass meeting
For to sod the brave son of Scandiknavery
And we'll bury him down in Oxmanstown
Along with the devil and Danes,