When one sees or hears "famous words," the phrase suggests allusions to celebrated or renowed people or things in history or literature. Therefore, in seeking these "famous words" in James Joyce's story "Araby," the reader can search for allusions in Joyce's narrative:
1. "Araby" (the poetic name for Arabia)--The title of this short story alludes to a poem written by the British poet Walter de la Mare, a poet who celebrated the imagination, contending that the visionary's source of poetry is within himself. Thus, the allusion to his poem is appropriate to the imaginative and illusionary character of Joyce's narrator. In addition, this poem conjures the exotic just as the boy perceives the bazaar where he wishes to meet Mangan's sister:
"Dark-browed Sailor, tell me now,
Where, where is Araby?
The tide's aflow, the wind ablow,
'Tis I who pine for Araby."
"Master, she her spices showers
O'er nine-and-ninety leagues of sea;
The laden air breathes faint and rare -
Dreams on far-distant Araby."
"Oh, but Sailor, tell me true;
'Twas Man who mapped this Araby;
Though dangers brew, let me and you
Embark this night for Araby..."
Wails the wind from star to star;
Rock the loud waves their dirge: and see!
Through foam and wrack, a boat drifts back:
Ah, heart-beguiling Araby!
2. Also in reference to Araby, the boy's uncle begins to recite the opening lines to "The Arab's Farewell to his Steed," a poem by the Irish poet Caroline Norton in which an Arab sells his beloved horse; however, he regrets his potential loss of beauty and love and tosses the gold away, mounting his beautiful steed and riding off into the desert. Here are some pertinent lines from this poem:
Return! Alas! My Arab steed! What shall thy master do
When thou, who wast his all of joy, hast vanish'd from his view?
When the dim distance cheats mine eye, and through the gathering tears
Thy bright form, for a moment, like a false mirage appears;
3. Among the other works mentioned, the narrator finds in the back drawing-room books from the former tenant, The Abbot by Sir Walter Scott, a writer of great imagination, and The Memoirs of Vidocq, a popular account of a criminal turned detective; this work is a blend of invention, sensationalism, and prurience.
4. "my chalice" - the suggestion of the Holy Grail, part of Tennyson's Idylls of the King, the Arthurian legend. This allusion is but one of many religious ones.
5. "the night of our Lord" - a pious conventional reference to the present evening. This famous phrase of Roman Catholics, part of the many religious allusions and symbols in the story, is in contrast to the oriental bazaar and the exoticism of "Araby."
6. "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" - an allusion to the famous nursery rhyme
7. "some Freemason affair" - this phrase alludes to the Society of Freemasons, an organization that was influential in business in Victorian Protestant Dublin. Suspected by Roman Catholics of atheism, anti-Catholicism and Protestant biogtry, the Freemasons were abhorred by Irish Catholics.
8. Cafe Chantant - ("singing cafe"), a coffee house in France. That a cafe in Dublin has this name is an attempt to evoke the romance and risque temptations of "gay Paris."
9. "two men were counting money on a salver" - By the Cafe Chantant the narrator observes men counting money. Here the phrase is an allusion to Matthew 21:12-13 of the New Testament.