Today was an incredible day in Dublin! I slept in, made a cup of coffee and set out in search of the Dublin Writers Museum. What the museum lacked in aesthetics, it made up for in wit and genius of great Irish poets, playwrights and novelists.
I loved reading about the wild, eccentric, depressing and entirely misunderstood lives of artists and writers! I learned about writers that I’d never heard of before like Frank O’Connor, who is regarded as one of the world’s greatest short story writers, and Oliver Goldsmith, whose poem, The Deserted Village, introduced to literature the great modern theme of the breaking down of traditional virtues and the disintegration of an ordered existence.
I stood in this museum for two hours and marveled at the power of voice and action in relation to each other and how masterpieces for social and political change are born when someone sits down and decides to put a pen to piece of paper, like Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels as he expressed disgust with society and Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest, which turned all of the social conventions of the time on their heads in the most brilliant and blatant ways.
I fell in love with James Joyce and the passion infused in his writing, especially this determined statement:
I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherhood, or my church. And I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use: silence, exile, and cunning.
I left wishing I could curl up in a sunny window seat and read all of the beautiful works I had just learned about, but I knew there was more of the city to see.
After the Writers Museum, I walked a good hour to the world’s largest urban park, Phoenix Park, and rented a bicycle for a few hours.
Not five minutes into my ride, I came to a field of a hundred deer grazing! I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Just to make sure this was actually happening, I repeated what I knew to be true: I am in the middle of Dublin, in the world’s largest urban park, and there are hundreds of deer feeding from the hands of strangers.
Yup, I decided, this was actually happening!
I stood before a buck, held out my hand and watched it walk towards me without reserve as it nuzzled a soft, wet nose into my empty palm.
In retrospect, I wondered if this wasn’t some type of beautiful disaster? On the one hand, it was an amazing experience to be so close to wildlife. On the other hand, I wondered if there was any “wild” left in them. It was rather sad to see deer being treated like pigeons in Central Park.
Regardless, the experience was incredible. I returned my bike, walked slowly back to the city center along the River Liffey, and reveled in the warmth of sunshine on my chilly cheeks.
At this point, I felt so full and satisfied that I was half tempted to go home, but it was still early so I decided to walk to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells. I lost myself in the lavish pages of the 800AD gospel illustrations and hovered over their beautiful designs in silence and in smiles.
Then, I hopped on the #9 bus and headed home.