This is a place of dead poets who are very much alive. I have had many encounters with W.B.Yeats in the Secret Library. I was reckless enough to describe some of these in detail in my Dreamers' Book of the Dead on the principle well stated by Mark Twain (who is also no stranger to these premises) that "I don't want to hear about the Moon from someone who hasn't been there."
The doors to the Secret Library open in dream, and through memory, and are oiled by the practice of going there and bringing back gifts and doing something creative with those gifts. I wrote the last phrase a little nervously, because I am aware I have yet to fulfill assignments given to me by the fiercest of the mentors I have ever encountered in my Secret Library.
I go up the stones steps and through the glass doors on a fine spring day when the fruit trees are in flower and the street is full of cheerful bicyclists in bright colors. I nod to the Librarian. I notice an unusual stir of activity in the lobby and the main reading room. These spaces are crowded with people, some familiar. I see Yeats in the distance, and Tolkien and C.S. Lewis with their pipes and pots of beer, and RLS romantically attired in Scottish dress. I see Jung, with a flash of kingfisher blue in the field around his three-piece woolen suit; and the bard with the silver brooch; and Borges in the corner, with a jeweler’s glass.
I would love to consult with all of them. I'm not going to waste a second questioning whether they are real figures or figments of my imagination, as long as they can give me some good stuff, maybe the makings of a new book.
But three boys block my way, clamoring for my attention. I would guess their ages as six, nine and twelve. They are very familiar. I have seen them in family photo albums, and in dreams.
"What do you want?"
"We've been telling you," says the six-year-old.
"We've told you again and again, in dream after dream," says the twelve-year-old.
"And you wouldn't listen," says nine-year-old Robert. Did I really have that many freckles when I was nine?
"I’m listening now," I tell them. "What do you want?"
“I want a train,” says Six.
“I want toy soldiers,” says Nine
“I want girls, but not the yucky kind, and Nazis to fight,” says Twelve.
“I want a Bear,” says Six.
“I want a Lion,” says Nine.
“I want an Eagle,” says Twelve.
“I want my father,” says Six.
“I want my sister,” says Nine.
“I want the Mage of the
says Twelve. Purple Mountain
They tell me, as a chorus: “You should listen to us much more than you do. We are the ones who can help you write the best book you have ever written, the one that everyone will want to read."
I'm listening now.
I'm listening now.