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.
The World Trade Organisation announced recently that a deal has been reached to which all 159 member countries have given their assent.
It is strange how the words sport, game, play, which in the dictionaries are associated with fun and frolic, have more and more lost their original meanings.
I find it hard to accept that old age has come upon me.
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.
The spirit grows weary with the weight of woe in the world at large and here at home.
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?
My heart hurts to see the sad and deteriorating state of the Guyana sugar industry.
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.
The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins – glancing and incandescent – is some of the most extraordinary to be found in English.
Bitter party political animosity divides the nation and holds back united efforts to solve the multitude of problems which need our combined human resources.
Seamus Heaney, great Irish poet and Nobel Laureate, died last month aged 74.
It is an honour to have received in the awards for 2012 a Guyana Prize for Literature for my latest book of poetry, The Comfort of All Things, published by the Moray House Trust.
My tutor at Cambridge, Professor Nick Hammond, authority on the history of ancient Macedonia and on the life of Alexander the Great, used to coach me on what he called “exercises of the mind.” He knew I played tennis for the university and he put it to me that just as I trained hard for the tennis so should I stretch to exhaustion the muscles of the mind.
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 the intense, ongoing debate about the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project I confess to finding myself mystified.
Famous poems have been written on the deaths of those who have meant more than life itself to the poet.
Life at 80 is as full of adventure and interest as it ever was but the adventures and interests are now mostly sedentary.
Last week Colin Campbell, an old Etonian and quintessentially English, died at his home in Blackhorse Lane, South Mimms, in Hertfordshire at the age of 86.
In teaching me about life when I was a boy my father always took pains to impress upon me the value of time – more precious than the rarest metal and not something hoardable.
I do not get the impression that governance in the world is good or that it is getting better.
Sport is an inexhaustible source of good conversation and friendly disputation. The other day I was conversing with a group of friends who, like myself, find nothing more companionable and enjoyable than holding forth on the latest events and controversies in the world of sport.
A J Seymour is Guyana’s greatest man of letters. Martin Carter is the nation’s most renowned poet; Edgar Mittelholzer, Wilson Harris and Roy Heath are our outstanding novelists; and Denis Williams combined in one man a Renaissance range of talents as artist, novelist and anthropologist.
One way or the other, if any nation is to do well, beneath and beyond the rhetoric and the fruitless slogans, the real work has to be done by ordinary people who do not indulge in the rhetoric and who do not shout the slogans.
Secretly, like an earthquake underground hardly noticed, a revolution is going on which will eventually change completely the way the world is organized.
When I was young I sometimes used to sit in the evening with an old aunt while she told her rosary beads.
“Records are there to be broken,” Sobers observed when asked how he felt when Lara eclipsed his world record Test score of 365.
There is an exact relationship between how language is used and how power is exercised.
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles.
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.