Monday, July 21, 2008

Assembling the Poems - The Map Yeats Left Us

As I'm going through the process of reading poems for the next chapbook and making suggestions about how to order the poems -- oh, there are so many ways to do it -- I found a captivating presentation by the National Library of Ireland on exactly this topic. William Butler Yeats' volume The Tower is traced from original poem drafts through publishing in periodicals through publishing in separate volumes, culminating in the collection called The Tower.

To find this "map" go to the National Library of Ireland website, and in the Yeats exhibit look for the "Interactives" link at the bottom of the main page, and follow it to Poetry in Process: Building the Tower. You'll get a map of the poems, and you can trace each one through drafts and publications. Look especially for the poems that display a little reel-shaped icon -- these take you to a "tutorial" which is an extended walk through the drafts of the poem, showing how Yeats revised, in many cases going back to his original word or stanza pattern after many revisions. Such tutorials are included for Leda and the Swan, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, and Sailing to Byzantium.

The other parts of the exhibit are interactive and allow you to tour all the rooms and display cases of the exhibit, with detailed information for each piece you click on. It is beautifully done, a wonder to behold for anyone interested in Yeats. This is a far cry from women poets in the U.S. midwest, to be sure, but I found it a trip worth the taking.

The exhibit:

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