At a time when one is still shaken by the death of Derek Walcott – the thought which diminishes us that he will never again decipher the beauty of the world for us – let us celebrate poetry – “the bread that lasts when systems have decayed.” And today I do so by recalling a poet whom Walcott loved – I remember talking with Walcott about him when Walcott visited Guyana a few years ago.
“You have been watching West Indies cricket for 70 years – give me three outstanding memories,” a friend asks me.
Leave aside the interminable bungling and set-in-stone ill-will which to one’s endless dismay characterise Guyana’s public space – and concentrate instead for your soul’s content on the many wonders which cross the mind on a daily basis.
I am 84, I have lived through a couple of valleys of death.
Many people go to the ends of the earth to find beauty. And certainly beauty can be found at the ends of the earth.
Good poems are instantly recognizable. They startle, shock new life into old ideas, impress on the mind patterns of beauty and truth previously unnoticed.
We have to look forward to an age of increasing and fearsome devastation.
By what values should we strive to live in order to achieve a community in which differences are accommodated, a community where there is diversity of discourse but a recognition of the common good regardless of politics, religion, race and personal beliefs?
I have slowed down considerably, to say the least, but the fire in the mind still lights my world.
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.
I worked in the Guyana sugar industry for decades, ending my career in 1999 as a Director of GuySuCo specifically in charge of marketing.
The photography of Bobby Fernandes has been a grace and glory in this land for decades.
If you can, every now and then it is good to escape the reality which you have settled into.
Many days I pass our National Library, and I never fail to bestow a silent blessing on those who work within its rooms quietly, rendering service of inestimable value.
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.
It is no longer in the natural order of things to tell the truth in public affairs.
There was once a visitor to Dublin, lost somewhere near the city centre who stopped and asked a passer-by for directions.
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.