It was but a hop and skip along the Dublin streets from Trinity College to the National Library of Ireland in Kildare Street, I'm ahead of the crowds and had ear-marked the W.B.Yeats exhibition as another 'must visit' venue.
But Yeats and I have a pathetically poor track record after that pig's ear of an exam question which left me barely on speaking terms with him all those years ago, my fault entirely. I'd ignored him all through the Modern Literature course thanks to time limitations and a rather over-balanced leaning towards Hughes, Larkin and Plath, and so when I turned the paper over and saw they'd thrown in a Yeats for the unseen analysis, well more fool me for even attempting it.
It was very unseen, I'd never laid eyes on it before and I'll bet you all know that sinking feeling when you reach the point of no return... insufficient time to choose another question so you plough on clueless and inventing wildly through the morasse and end up feeling sorry for the examiner who's going to have to wade through this treacley mess of disordered thought to mark it.
So I walked into this grand and imposing building determined to make friends with W.B.Yeats, and it was about the easiest friendship I've ever made, because as I walked into that little room ahead of me, with its comfortable bench seating around the edge, beautifully evocative and changing screen images around the walls, the words and a recording of the poem resonating around, this is what gently assailed my ears...
read by Kathleen Watkins,
'... I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
How could anyone not love those words in that order and W.B.Yeats instantly and not a moment before time, enters the portals of the dovegreyreader personal poetic greats.
Being completely inquisitive about inner lives and the day to day-ness of writers, I love exhibitions like this, with collages
and library shelf mock-ups
and spectacles and locks of hair
and original manuscripts which transport me to that 'looking over the shoulder' position which feels so intimate, as if I'm watching someone write...
I was here much longer than I had intended but this wasn't a race around the city, I wanted time to soak it all up, so I sat down again in the little room and listened to all the available poems, allowing them to wash over me.
It will be hard to forget hearing W.B.Yeats reading The Lake Isle of Innisfree on this my first trip to Dublin. An elderly, slightly shaky yet venerable voice and a life I now knew a great deal more about, if you missed it when I linked the other day, you too can sit there and enjoy the moment with me.
If a library exhibition is so good then the next best thing has to be the library shop and the library's own series of Joyce studies on *special offer*, twenty-one slim volumes for the knock-down bargain price of 15 euros. Don't even ask me about the pain of indecision I suffered as I realised that I couldn't possibly carry all these around Dublin for the rest of the day, and so anguished over seven to be going on with.
One thing that has become very evident since Team Ulysses is that this book is staying with me. I think about little bits of it often, moments flit into my mind out of nowhere making me keen to read much more background and, I knew it would happen, even dip into a little of the academia that I have avoided. So I chose my seven and off to my next stop, a brief homage to Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde and onwards to the Writer's Museum.
Out in the lobby I'm distracted a while longer by a display of letters in response to a request sent by the library down the years to well-known figures asking for the name of their favourite poem.
William Trevor :: The Lady of Shallot, Seamus Heaney :: Cuculain Comforted, Graham Norton in an eloquent and beautifully written letter :: Epic by Patrick Kavanagh.
So which would you chose?