The progression this follows is a logical and orderly one: “his lips lipped and mouthed fleshless lips of the air” mentions a variation on the word “lips” three times in a fragment of a sentence, implying a sort of “revving up” of the faculties of speech (much like a stalled ignition in a car). Then there is the initial utterances, emerging as sound with no meaning: “moomb” and “oomb,” respectively, before morphing into “allwombing tomb,” which combines the maternal birth (“allwombing”) with death (“tomb”). Beyond “tomb” there is a breakdown of the linguistic faculties altogether: he is “unspeeched.” We get the almost primal animalistic tones of “ooeeehah,” implying a sort of devolution of his human faculties, followed by “cataractic planets” (cataracts being something that clouds vision; in this case “planets” are likened to “eyes”).

Here in this image we see the “failure” of sound followed by the “failure” of sight (“cataractic planets”). It is important to note that on the first page of Portrait we see Stephen’s experience of sound (his father telling him a story) followed by his experience of sight (his father looking down through the glass). This is literally the opening pages of Portrait folding back in on itself in reverse: Stephen is having a sort of hallucinatory vision of his own “undoing.” This is reinforced by a sort of apocalypse: “roar of cataractic planets, globed, blazing, awayawayawayawayaway.” It is the “planets” that are “roaring,” not him; the intrusive sound of the (metaphorical) apocalypse overwhelms him, followed by images of worlds on fire (“globed, blazing”), finally spinning out beyond his reach entirely (“awayawayawayawayaway”).