The world of reading – I mean actual ‘flesh and blood’ books alive in my hand – is full of countless wonders and perceptions and images that spark the imagination as long as one is alive.
There was once a visitor to Dublin, lost somewhere near the city centre who stopped and asked a passer-by for directions.
It happens all the time in small, closely-knit groups – cabinets, party executives, boards of directors, church congregations or club committees.
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.
Most people are cowards. Most people don’t want to trouble trouble lest trouble troubles them.
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.
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.
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.