"The Sensual World" is a song by the English singer Kate Bush. It was the title track and first single from her album of the same name, released in September 1989. The single entered and peaked at no.12 in the UK single charts. The song was later re-recorded using only words taken from Molly Bloom's soliloquy from James Joyce's Ulysses, as Bush had originally intended whilst recording The Sensual World album. This version, re-titled "Flower of the Mountain" appears on the 2011 album Director's Cut.
The B-Side to the original single was "Walk Straight Down the Middle," a bonus track on the CD and cassette editions of The Sensual World album. The 12" vinyl release of the single had a double-grooved A-side so that either the song or an instrumental version of the song would be played depending on where the needle was placed.
The song is inspired by Molly Bloom stepping out of the black and white, two-dimensional pages of James Joyce's Ulysses into the real world, and is immediately struck by the sensuality of it all. It was originally supposed to be Molly Bloom's speech (from the end of Ulysses) set to music, but Bush could not secure the rights from the Joyce estate, so she altered it. In 2011, the Joyce estate granted license to the material, and Bush rerecorded the song as "Flower of the Mountain", released on 2011's Director's Cut.
Musically, one of the main hooks in the chorus of The Sensual World was inspired by a traditional Macedonian piece of music called Nevestinsko Oro, or "Bride's Dance". As in the traditional version, the melody is played on uilleann pipes, in this case by Irish musician Davy Spillane.
The song, particularly the chorus section, features prominently several times in Atom Egoyan's film "Felicia's Journey", highlighting the main character's sense of isolation and loss as she leaves Ireland and her estranged father for England.