So much begins with parents. So much continues in the training grounds. The teachers who taught and inspired us.
So much begins with parents. Their daily, persevering, unending love and interest and example teach lessons which reach deep into us; we are nurtured and our minds and souls are formed into shapes and disciplines that last all our lives.
The title I gave to one of my collections of poems is ‘Between Silence and Silence.’ I have always thought it sad, and occasionally a matter of momentary despair, that each of us emerges from oblivion into life, without permission given, and after a really very brief period of existence is hustled back into oblivion.
The great unabridged Oxford English Dictionary contains half a million words. Among all these one of the two most difficult to define is ‘happiness.’ It is easy enough to find a purely verbal definition such as ‘a feeling of pleasure or contentment’ but that is superficial.
In my home, a step down off the dining room, overlooking the beautiful garden my wife has created, I have my studiolo.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack I remember writing that America should take care not to over-react to that singular act of terror.
Some of the best poetry has been written by people on the verge of death.
I consider myself reasonably well read and passably well-informed. I try to keep up with what is going on.
If you do not read poetry you miss much. You miss star showers around your head and arrows near your heart.
The world is suffering from giganticism. Bigger is considered better and biggest best.
Even in the worst of times – and who can doubt that the daily, brutal, unstoppable exploits of uncaught criminals have made this time one of widening and deepening fear and frustration – reading comes to the rescue by revealing other worlds of experience where cruelty and mindlessness and man’s inhumanity to man do not continually have the upper hand.
I have been writing about Shivnarine Chanderpaul for more than twenty years, even before he played Test cricket.
I have far exceeded the Biblical span of three score years and ten, so I realize clearly that this overtime gifted by the Gods must be most carefully husbanded.
Perhaps there has never been any time in history when terror, horror, cruelty and brutal suffering, much of it inflicted by men themselves, have set their curse upon so many lands.
The father of policing in Britain, and therefore of policing in Britain’s colonies, was Sir Robert Peel.
History often saddles people with reputations that are undeserved. Take Florence Nightingale. The biographical facts show conclusively that she was pushy, domineering, and bitchy to an appalling degree.
One might have thought that as time passes the heart might harden as arteries harden and the sense of loss grow less acute as the five familiar senses most certainly tend to do.
In Guyana reciprocated animosity has not even come close to plumbing the awful depths which exist in so many other countries and, God willing, such hideous animosity never will prevail.
Intermittently through the year, and especially during memorable times up the immense and soul-redeeming Essequibo, I like to read Shelley – as we all should do from time to time since he is pre-eminently the poet of hope.
Too many of my good friends are overwhelmed with work which prevents them living more peaceful, varied, interesting and fulfilled lives.
When you are long retired from the hurly-burly, you become more reflective. So looking back I wonder whether anything I have done is of any real significance.
I do not think the young, intelligent and opened-minded Minister of Education will mind me delivering again a little, well-meant lecture to her.
If ever a country needed more civility in the discourse conducted between its political and other leaders it is Guyana now.
One must be thankful that there are things to read other than the blood-filled and vitriol-laced pages of the daily newspapers.
This too shall pass. The utter shambles into which the administration of Guyana’s cricket has fallen will one day end.
Bill Shankley, manager of Liverpool Football Club in the English Premier League, was once asked whether a game his team was about to play was a matter of life and death.
More than normally, our politicians seem to be tearing at each other’s throats.
Currently cuss-down and buse-up are of a very low standard. We need new and more imaginative swear words.
When you get to my age you are in overtime and a penalty shoot-out looms which you know you cannot win.
Do you remember one of the world’s great exercises in futility? In 2007 as many as 20,000 politicians, officials, international functionaries, journalists and activists attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as the Bali Conference.
It is astonishing to me that a third of the year is over.
I think there must be a majority of Guyanese deeply worried that the festering animosity between the political parties and the incessant jockeying for position and narrow-spirited search for partisan advantage is greatly harming Guyana’s progress as a nation.
A few weeks, it seems, since the last one, a new birthday has come along – the 81st no less, hardly believable when one thinks how not so long ago one could joyfully spring up stairs three at a time if the occasion demanded it or party until dawn (very possibly celebrating another West Indies victory as No.
The fatal flaw in the Duckworth/Lewis formula for deciding unfinished cricket matches is that it makes no allowance for genius, flair and sheer, joyous inspiration.
Democracies came to be based on a balanced view of human nature; people are by nature selfish but self-government is possible because we are wise enough to restrain and control that selfishness.
I was in Toronto with my wife to attend the wedding of a favourite niece.
If you can, every now and then it is good to escape the reality which you have settled into.
Like nurses anxiously watching the pulse rate and temperature of patients in an emergency ward, for a long time we were schooled to observe movements in Gross Domestic Product as the indication of whether a country is healthy or ailing.
At 80 years old I do not think I can be criticised for writing about ageing.
Emeritus Professor Ken Ramchand of the University of the West Indies at St Augustine, eminent scholar and literary critic, the other day sent me the address he gave as Chairman of the Project Committee at the opening of The Naipaul House in St James, Port-of-Spain, on 10th February.
It is being noticed more and more – President Obama and Pope Francis are currently making it a theme in their speeches – that inequality is growing and that the already rich and powerful are becoming even more obscenely rich (the President and Pope are too diplomatic to use the word obscene but it is the right one) and even more unchallengeably powerful.
The feeling of joy is a strange emotion. It can derive from momentous events – winning the great championship, realising a long-nourished ambition, owning one’s own home at last.
It is generally accepted that self-righteousness is a most unpleasant personality trait and character flaw.
I have a dear friend whom I admire in all things and who herself writes beautifully and clearly but who has what I consider a blind spot.
‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates. When I was no more than twelve or thirteen the feeling grew in me that it was important not simply to live life day by day but somehow to give greater meaning to it by recording what was happening every one of those days and by planning how I should shape and what I should make of my life in the future.
Recently I paid a visit to Trinidad and while there made a remarkable discovery.
Today marks the 100th birth anniversary of A J Seymour, Guyana’s greatest man of letters.
Some weeks ago I enquired what had been gained by small and vulnerable countries like ours in the recently concluded World Trade Organisation deal.
Who can doubt that in Guyana in 2014 clenched fists of the past must be opened so that hands can reach out across embattled ground for the good of the nation.
Writing a column on the celebration of Christmas is a little like trying to illustrate the scope and scale of Shakespeare with one or two quotations; you can succeed about as well as the man who tried describing the marvellous cathedral at Chartres by showing a carved stone and single piece of stained glass as specimens of the building’s majesty.