At 76, Joe Biden is only four years older than Donald Trump, but his propensity for gaffes, coupled with Trump’s seemingly boundless energy, makes the former vice president seem much older.
Perhaps in light of this, death — or to be more accurate, his own mortality — might not have been the wisest topic for inclusion at his campaign kickoff rally in Philadelphia on Saturday. Nevertheless, there Crazy Uncle Joe was, telling the crowd for some reason that, much as he likes their city, he’s a Delawarean at heart. Even though the crowd didn’t seem to mind, it’s puzzling why he didn’t save this sentiment for his campaign stop in his adoptive home state. (For what it’s worth, he was born in Pennsylvania.)
But he didn’t deliver the observation prosaically, instead attempting to channel Irish writer James Joyce:
Everyone knows Jill is a Philadelphia girl. She loves this city. I do too. But to paraphrase the poet James Joyce — I have to say this folks because I’m near my state — when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2019
The last seven words were an attempted borrowing from Joyce, who despite having left Ireland in 1912 and never returning even though he lived another 29 years, declared, “When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.”
When you compare the original with what Biden said, you find a small but significant difference. Joyce said “written in my heart” whereas Biden said “written on my heart.” Biden’s mangling of the Joyce quote evokes the ghastly image of someone standing over his lifeless body, etching the word Delaware into his heart with a stiletto.