The diaries of William Gladstone, one of the greatest British prime ministers, are astonishing.
I love poetry. It is the quiet passion of my life. When I was a child my mother read me old nursery rhymes at bedtime and they had the lilt of poetry in them which stayed with me forever.
In any given situation we assume that people, including ourselves, will act sensibly.
Arriving at the age of 80, so suddenly after being born, I recognize very clearly that I am slowing to a jog if not quite yet a hobble.
As golden afternoon transmutes into silver evening and then into velvet darkness fretted by stars I sit to read and think and dream.
Samuel Johnson, that great man of letters and heavyweight of good sense in eighteenth century England, commonly said the people whom we should most beware in the world are those who constantly insist on finding fault, those whose clouds are never lit by silver linings, those who everlastingly “refuse to be pleased.” I am often reminded of Sam Johnson’s suspicion of such people and their moaning and gnashing of teeth when I read the newspapers
Sveinsson Knut, Canute the Great, King of England from 1016, King of Denmark from 1018 and King of Norway from 1030 until he died in 1035, was perhaps the most successful and effective of the early rulers of England.
The younger generation never experienced, and older people tend to forget, how very limited and how very stifled the media was in the last period of President Burnham’s rule.
Last weekend my wife and I went up the great Essequibo to stay at the beautiful river-home of my brother-in-law and his wife.
Consider yourself fortunate if you are right 51% of the time. Listen to the old Galician Jew, settled at last in his old age in a little house in an Israeli kibbutz after a hard lifetime including a brush with the unimaginable horror of Auschwitz.
Right now the temperature of partisan dispute, and tempers on all sides, are rising sharply.
At eighty years of age one must expect to factor attendance at funerals into one’s monthly (weekly?) schedule.
It isn’t an exercise that makes much sense to try and rank poets in a sort of hierarchy of greatness.
I was distressed in conversation with a friend whom I admire for his level head, his learning, his insight, and his wit to hear him speak of his sense of being cramped for intellectual space, of his boredom with what seems to him the narrow opportunities in the country, of his disgust at the eternal back-biting and bitter and belittling rivalries which crowd out any hope of civil discourse.
Many people go to the ends of the earth to find beauty. And certainly beauty can be found at the ends of the earth.
I have been reading a book of great beauty given to me as a Christmas gift by my wife: A River Runs Through It, by Norman Fitzroy Maclean.
For God’s sake, what is going on? A young Pakistani girl is shot in the head for trying to educate herself and others like her.
We live in a world which seems to take little interest in joy.
I remember a very long time ago, in the era of Prime Minister, not even then President LFS Burnham, when I was a Director in the sugar industry, I had occasion to enquire from an official at the then State Planning Commission about a request made months before for approval for the introduction of a new incentive scheme in the industry.
Out of infinite pain the mind of man can fashion beauty. John Clare, the English nature poet, born in 1793 who died in a madhouse in 1864, was the most poverty-stricken of any major poet who ever lived.
Winston Churchill, exasperated by opposition politicians constantly questioning his policies and his own credentials and frustrated by having to consult and compromise on measures which in his judgement were straightforward and ripe for introduction without hesitation, once exploded: “Democracy is the worst kind of government!” Then he paused, thought a little bit, considered the alternatives and ruefully concluded – “Except all the others.” Democracy ensures, or should ensure, that the differing views, varied cultural persuasions and diverging concepts of how the people’s affairs should be managed are allowed expression and none ever squeezed into resentful, and eventually festering,
One of the strangest paradoxes in the history of the human race is that while men have commonly dominated simply by virtue of their greater strength and aggression, women time and time again have been the cause of their downfall and defeat.
Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet, whose marvellous collection of essays The Redress of Poetry I like to re-read, writes that WH Auden’s elegy for Yeats was “a rallying cry that celebrates poetry for being on the side of life, and continuity of effort, and enlargement of the spirit.” Heaney believes that one function of poetry is to act as a counterweight to hostile and oppressive forces in the world; he calls this “the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.” This is what he calls “redress,” whereby “the poetic imagination seems to redress whatever is wrong or exacerbating in the prevailing conditions,” offering “a response to reality which has a liberating and verifying effort upon the individual spirit… tilting the scales of reality towards some transcendent equilibrium… This redressing effect of poetry comes
One man is running a company with the help of three old family retainers, two others who haven’t had a new idea in a couple of generations, and a whole raft of school drop-outs.