Poetry and the Creative Mind, the eighth annual benefit for the Academy of American Poets held at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 20, provided a rare evening devoted to poetry read by an array of celebrities, including Meryl Streep, Rosanne Cash, Sting, Julian Schnabel, Alan Cumming, and our own Gabriel Byrne. Various reports of the event offer the following details of the sometimes dramatic, sometimes funny proceedings:

–All the readers sat on stage the entire time while they took turns at the podium. Gabriel was third in line. He wore a dark gray suit, a red shirt and a striped tie (slightly loose, as always). The first thing he said, with a very distinct Irish accent, was, “I’m going to read a few Irish poems” and the audience already burst out laughing. The program said that he would read “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by Yeats (a poem, he said, that every child in Ireland learns in school) and “Gaelic Poem” by Anonymous.

Panel-2Mystery person, Gabriel Byrne, Rosanne Cash, and Alan Cumming

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

–Not everyone read the poems originally scheduled. Gabriel replaced Dylan Thomas with a poem by Patrick Kavanagh and added “When You Are Old” (also by Yeats) and told a long-winded (of course) but very funny (of course) story about how the first Irish made it from Egypt to Ireland as an introduction to the Gaelic Poem, which he claims must have been one of the first poems ever. I loved hearing him recite in Gaelic!

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

gb-poetry-creative-mind-2010-01Mr. Byrne and Ms. Cash, blurry but happy

–Lucky Rosanne Cash sat beside Gabriel the entire time and she was next. She looked back at Gabriel and said, “And I am to follow THAT?” She then read “Poetry” by Pablo Neruda (she said that poem described exactly how she feels when writing songs), “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold and the very funny and touching “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps” by Galway Kinnell. You can read more about Ms. Cash’s thoughts on the event at Twitter, where she is rosannecash. She carried the flag for all Byrneholics everywhere and may even have caused a Byrne-ing blush. Thanks, Rosanne!

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

“When You Are Old,” by William Butler Yeats

–It was a very successful evening which ended with New York Magazine’s backstage, improvised, on-the-spot “Celebrity Volcano Slam,” during which the celebrities in attendance were asked to improvise poems about the Icelandic volcano currently raining ash on everyone’s aeronautic parade. Gabriel’s contribution:

Who could have predicted you
White cloud of ash
Full of beauty and of terror
A reminder to us
That we do not own
the universe surrounding us


  1. What an wonderful evening this must have been in Lincoln Center.
    Thanks for sharing all this, Byrneholics.
    Gabriel was just wonderful, that evening!
    In every way. :)

    • AnnaBlume

      Is it just me or does he look happier and more serene than he has in a while? Sixty suits him well… as does the red shirt ;-)

  2. VirginiaRN

    I just love that rumpled look, the tie a bit askew and his “what you see is what you get” approach to the world. An elegant man, no matter what! I can just hear him recite these beautiful poems. I have the Yeats tape he did many years ago and must listen again today. I had forgotten how delightful Gabriel and poetry can be, silly me….
    What a treat for all those who attended.

  3. iamyuneek

    Oh what a treat! I love the red shirt and the always present askew tie. Gabriel being Gabriel. :-)

  4. Some people can pull off a ‘rumpled look’ as you gals say, and Gabriel is certainly one of them. Yeah, what an evening it must be, I wish I could attend :( Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’d like to make it clear at this juncture that Gabriel Byrne is not – NOT – a Vogon. Thank you.

    • LOL Lozzie !! yes I absolutely agree.

    • Indeed. He is the opposite of Vogon. He is the reverse of Vogon. He is, in fact, the ANTI-Vogon.

      Although I must say one MIGHT expire from listening to him read poetry (esp. Yeats and Joyce). However, one would be expiring in a haze of happy bliss at hearing the words flowing from him in dulcet tones.

      He could recite: “As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee” and I would die happy.


  6. I was at the poetry reading. Gabriel was very busy making the rounds talking to people at the reception after and just being Gabriel. By the way he is about 5’7″ maybe I could give him half an inch on that, but to say he is 5’8″ would be pressing the matter. But he is so very, very handsome.

  7. Windhover

    > But he is so very, very handsome.

    Funny, I was thinking recently about how our favorite appellation, “Mad Handsome”, somehow got lost in the perilous crossing from the HBO forum to Byrneholics, and what a tragedy that was…

    • We continue to use it here, Windhover. And if you look at some of my wallpapers (those with walls, mostly) you will find “MH” in strategic places as homage to the Mad Handsome One. :-)

  8. Windhover

    It’s been so long since I read “When You Are Old” (thanks, Gabriel!). It rips me up every time.

  9. Lori Furlow

    Greetings from a Fellow Gabriel Byrneholic Fan! I have to compliment most highly on the superp quality of this web-Site for gabriel! I also would have givin just about anything to have attented this poetry reading at The Lincoln Center. To have gabe and others raed such powerfully Emotionally waods and put thier own brand of word play talent must have been magical! Yan, Stella, and Lozziecap, i have a post for you 3 in The Feedback and Suggestion Discussion Thread/Forum At The Message Board! My Thanks for all of your tireless work and devotional care for this Web-Site.
    I am very happy to have discoverd it! My thanks for allowing Me to become a new Memver of The family!

  10. Melissa – I had read that he was short. I never for a moment thought that his reported height of 5’10 and even 5’11 were true. People getting a little carried away I suppose.

  11. iamyuneek

    I had my pic taken with him, and at 5’10 I had to schooch down which made things a bit akward (not for him but for me,)he was signing my autograph at the time and had his head down.

    They make those Skechers athletic shoes that make you fit without exercising and they have those built in heels, he could wear thoose without seeming like he was adding height.

    But you know what, I don’t think he really gives a hoot, or if he does, he absolutely doesn’t show it, he usually chooses not to wear shoes with heels or cowboy boots (that movie whose name we dare not mention excluded lol.)I wish he would, but hey, it’s coming from a tall lady:-)

    • Hi girls:) Being a small one, I am somehow intrigued by the height issues, especially with regard to Gabriel Byrne (need I say that?:) Could you repeat in meters and centimeters please?:)

  12. Leprechaun or Giant, I don’t mind. he is perfect the way he is ! ;-)

  13. It is surprisingly easy to find the equivalent to 5’7 etc. in cm, by the way…

  14. iamyuneek

    Another new patient for Paul :-)

    This season is shaping up to ve very interesing. No Gina, only three patients, new writing. I can’t wait!

  15. Gabriel is so cute, im very young i fall in love with him. he is just so talented and handsome. if he ever reads this, kisses to u gabriel byrne!!!

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