We live in terrible times. And, being human, we shake our heads and wring our hands and swear that never have the times been worse.
It happens all the time in small, closely-knit groups – cabinets, party executives, boards of directors, church congregations or club committees.
Even at this Christmas time, the spirit grows weary with the weight of woe in the world at large and at home in Guyana.
The great poets are easily recognizable; in a moment the minds knows, the heart feels, the spirit senses a quality involving silence and attention.
The debate on improving educational standards never ends. And in this debate I am glad to see it is generally realised that new school buildings and classroom furniture are only a very small part of what matters.
I have been re-reading Seamus Heaney, great Irish poet and Nobel Laureate. He was a wonderful, life-enhancing writer.
I do not like reminiscing about the old days; that immediately marks you as entering your dotage.
Most people are cowards. Most people don’t want to trouble trouble lest trouble troubles them.
I am sometimes accused by bloggers, and often gently told by friends, that I am inclined to view life, and particularly life in Guyana, through a glass not darkly, but one beautifully rose-coloured.
Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without the right people in place to convert words into action.
It is terrible how easily we bear the suffering of others. If only for one hour a day every man in the world could feel the hunger in the gut of a starving child in Bangladesh or Ghana or the Sudan, or the daily agony of what is happening to thousands of Syrian refugees perhaps the world would become a better place.
When one thinks about it, the concept of “Government” is a strange one for it assumes as its fundamental premise that certain men and women – human beings like you and me – can and should be allowed to take upon themselves the right to direct the rest of us what to do, presumably for our own good.
There is no connection between sexual mores and job performance. Many of the greatest leaders in history were unbridled lechers.
If you think about it carefully it seems impossible to reconcile two things which most people would very much like to believe – one, that they enjoy free will and in some ultimate sense are masters of their fate, and, two, that the God of all creation is omnipotent and has a master plan for us all.
Headlines which constantly remind us of lethal crime heighten the sense of life’s fragility in all of us.
It is frustrating, not to say humiliating, to think how much one is missing by not knowing any language except one’s own.
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.
When I was young, and benefited not only from a fresh and eagerly absorptive mind but also from a strong belief that an eternity of life stretched in front of me, I loved to read big books, books of immense length.
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.
If one had the power to give a child a single gift but no other, the gift to choose would be a love of reading.
In my 84th year the time for ambition is long past. Nobody gets a return match between himself and his destiny.
T20 cricket, the way it has developed, is unbalanced in favour of batsmen.
I find it hard to believe that Donald Trump – whose candidacy was declared a year ago seemed a bad joke – is the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States.
I have changed my mind about limited over cricket. When this slash and burn form of the game began to emerge prominently I was accustomed to dismiss it as a superficial and corrupt version of the great game.
Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died recently at the age of 87.
Age has slowed me down but at least no day goes by without reading bringing me the fascinating and penetrating insights of other minds.
One of the things I enjoy the most is to browse in good bookstores and buy a stock of books to read and add to my library.
I find it hard to understand why most people never, literally never, read poetry.
I wonder what it would be like to exclude sport completely from one’s life for, say, one year?
Recently I read two poems which I want to share without much commentary – partly because they speak for themselves.
There is a never-ending battle against those who think – no, who are sure – they know what is best for us.
I like to tell the story of Tony Judt. Tony Judt was a writer on recent world history whom I greatly admire.
The work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1953) is hardly known to English-speaking peoples.
Everywhere in the world the ordinary man in the street has been brainwashed into supposing that the only thing that matters is economic success.
My wife’s garden is as much a work of art as a painting by a master spirit or a poet’s inspired sonnet or a perfectly composed piece of music.
I do not get the impression that the governance of the world is good or that it is getting better.
In a book written on Voltaire I learn of his beloved mistress Madame de Chatelet.
Concern is constantly expressed about break-downs in the nation’s infrastructure. Previous long-term economic malaise led to wide-spread structural deterioration which is with us still.
As I grow older – 83 tomorrow – bloodied but not completely bowed, a passage from Shakespeare comes naturally but ominously to mind.
When I was young I was ready and eager to follow the advice given by Terence, the Roman poet, a long, long time ago: “I am a man,” he wrote, “and therefore anything that any man does should interest me.” Then life stretched infinitely before me and it seemed there would be time for everything: time to visit every land and sail every sea, time to try every sport, time to read every book, time to love all the girls, to investigate all the mysteries, time indeed to check out the entire universe.
Karl Popper, one of the greatest thinkers of his, or any, age, was modest in expressing his philosophical findings.
I know from our newspapers, and from many a conversation, that our political masters and mistresses are going at each other in Parliament and elsewhere as they always have and, apparently, always will, except for Sam Hinds who I find maintains a calm dignity even in his most adversarial communications which no one else seems able to achieve.
The saddest sight in Guyana is the children you see on the pavements begging, idling, cursing, selling cigarettes and sweets, most of them on their way to perdition of one sort or another.
When I was a boy there was an old, tall, craggy-faced priest from Scotland who used to preach on Sundays at the parish church in Tunapuna in Trinidad.
I was reading the magazine Planet the other day and came across an article in it by the Welsh poet and playwright Damian Gorman which made an impression on me.
Local election campaigning is presumably underway. The exchanges will not be civil, to say the least.
Bertolt Brecht was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the 20th cen-tury.
I wish I could convey in particular to young people, whose mental appetites seem whetted so easily these days by the transitory and the trashy, the quiet depths, the delights, the leaping excitements of great poetry.
The Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge is one of the most famous science buildings in the world.
A friend asked me how important a part poetry plays in my life.