. Vol. 3
6* : .
L. a .
tl- '- -- ,. '* '
/- ./ /
SYEAR-END 1951. .
Hunt g for History- On Jamaican Popry
.' (Andrew Pearse) (Basil McFarlane)
.x.tract from an unpublished Guianese novel (P. H. Dqly)
Correspondence on the Calypso.
SReviews of Diama, Art, Brogdcasting; .
: .. oems, Short Strbzie;.ok- R eview --
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ANOTHER PROFESSOR SPEAKS :
"The West Indian is creating a literature of his
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and plays and his own histories....He is perceiving
the need to write his own school books.... He is
working on the problem of dialect trying to make
it answer the need of a unique expression that
will link him to the mass of his fellow West
Indians.... the Great Literary Adventure is on,
that will one day help him to find himself part of
A. J. SEYMOUR, Kyk-over-Al" April, '50.
QUITE RIGHT "PROFESSOR" SEYMOUR.
And side by side and perhaps even more important
than this effort at literary and cultural independence,
West Indians are developing their own financial
institutions owned and operated by themselves.
In this connection COLONIAL LIFE stands in the
Every new policyholder link(s) himself) to the mass
of his fellow West Indians" for progress, personal
and national independence.
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Published by the B.G. Writers Association in conjunction with
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Vol. 3, No. 13
.. Year-end, 1951.
Peace of God (poem)
Correspondence on the Calypso
Letters to Margaret (poem)
Art and Criticism
Out of the Shadows (poem)
On Jamaican Poetry
Hunting for History
Day before Ash Wednesday (poem)
Three Evenings with Six Poets
Learning and Acting Together
SProposals for a Congress of Writers
Over Here (poem)
Ubi Gentum (poem)
Rhapsody on a Hill (poem)
Buried Tresures (story)
A Note on Thomas Mann ..
Dawn of the Future
Worm's Eye View
The Kokers of Alvin Bowman
If You Remember Dearie
The England of Elizabeth
SThe Caribbean at Mid-Century
. Peggy Luck
.. P. H. Daly ..
. A. J. S. and W. H. L.
.. Basil McFarlase
.. Wilson Harris
.. Ernest Laborde
.. Basil MacFarlane
. Peggy Luck
.. A N. Forde
.. A. A. Thompson
. Daniel Williams
. Owen Campbell
. E. McG. Keane
. Eugene Bartrum
.. J. Seymour
... Prasad Sukhnandan
. Sara Veecock
. Lillan Fraser
.. Rowse .. .. 246
.. Wilson Harris 248
.. (ed. A. Curtis Wilgus) 249
Contributions and letters should be sent to the Editors "Kyk-
Over-Al", 120, Fourth Street, Georgetown, British Guiana. Business
communications should be addressed to J. E. Humphrey, Esq.,
Manager, D.F.P. Advertising Service, 4A, Hope Street, Georgetown,
British Guiana. P.O. Box 267.
As Aristotle would say, each age has its own entelechy, each region
has its own drive from within to realise the unique characteristics it
possesses, and perhaps a note of warning is necessary for the leading spirits
of the British Caribbean. Communications have sharpened, policies
have become hemispheric and th: Caribbean has been, on economic
grounds, integrated with the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth,
while on strategic considerations, we are part of the lake between the
But it cannot too often be said that we are basically an agricultural
region, however industrialized our diversified economy may become
within the next half century; we are not an industrial country with the
spiritual unease and frustration that the factory can bring in its shadow
upon sprawling towns; our norm is the field, not the factory. So we
must choose carefully what we want from England and Europe and from
America. We need their products of Science for our material comfort
and our economic well being, but we do not want to import their despair
and anxiety, neuroses and their unconscious death wishes.
The dangers are concealed, more often than not; with the Hollywood
film, we receive much that is undesirable in the American way of life,
and on them our relatively unlettered people base their standards of sex
life and public conduct. There is also a pictoral and visual literature of
violence now making its impact upon the young people of the Caribbean.
Kykoveral, as far as it can, is a diet for the intellectual life of the
region so that we can grow our leaders, and contributors write for the
purposeful half hour rather than the aimless minute. There can be no
watering down of standards, as we have to keep mentally athletic and
point to what will best help us to build our new nation from its infancy
to manhood. Culture has her crests as well as her troughs and Kykoveral
should be out in advance of the wave with the flung spray and the blown
So far as this issue is concerned, we begin an enquiry into the
calypso by means of an exchange of letters which we hope to continue
in another issue if we can coax musicians to continue the comments made
here on the impact of this incipient West Indian art-form. There are
two short stories and we print a selection from an unpublished historical
novel on British Guiana by P. H. Daly, which portrays the arrest of the
Demerara Martyr, Rev. John Smith.
There is a fair quantity of criticism. Wilson Harris writes in a phil-
osophical vein on the function of art and criticism; Basil McFarlane
compares Tom Redcam with George Campbell in a note on these Jam-
aican poets; from a group of young people who have been meeting once
a month at the Public Free Library to read and discuss the poets of the
West Indies comes a short account of the lively give-and-take that takes
place at their meetings. Andrew Pearse, Resident Tutor in Trinidad
investigates a Trinidad custom, and his colleague in British Guiana, A.
A. Thompson, discusses the methods of adults learning together.
Poets printed here are Peggy Luck of British Guiana, Keane, Camp.
bell, Laborde, and Williams of St. Vincent, and Forde of Grenada. There
is so much good poetry lying in the pages of the .Little Reviews in the
West Indies and being released monthly in the Miniature Poets Series,
(published by the British Guiana Writers Association), that we are
seriously thinking of devoting half, or even the whole of the Mid-Year
1952 issue to a selection of West Indian poetry which we hope readers
will welcome and put on their shelves.
In a stable, mean and lowly,
To a maiden, poor, but holy
Came the Everlasting King.
Ox and ass stood by the manger -
'Tis our Lord, He is no stranger,
Listen! how the angels sing."
Next time when He comes with Glory,
It shall be a different story -
Worship, Love, and Joy divine,
When He comes all sin shall vanish,
Sorrow, hatred, tears He'll banish
Then, Advent Eternal, shine.
Peace of God
From beds of yellow daffodils
I lift mine eyes unto the hills,
And thus receive from Golden Heights,
From smiling skies and Holy lights,
The peace of Heaven's outstretched hand
That men could never understand,
The peace that God alone supplies,
That in the Cross of Jesus lies.
Within green pastures blossoms still
The green and golden daffodil,
Beside the meadows flow the streams
Of comfort bearing silver dreams.
The breeze of patience whispers near
Across a little brooklet clear,
This is the heaven and abode
Of those who find the Peace of God.
EXTRACT FROM AN UNPUBLISHED NOVEL:
By P. H. DALY
"Black terror stalked a muddy- land. Black fear prowled among a
few hundred Whites huddled on a plantation Le Ressouvenir afire.
Black fear tore at their dry throats, commanding 'Shout now Shout
now! Shout now, with all your power! For it is your last voice!
Panic tugged at their palpitating hearts, urging, 'Beat now! Beat now!
Beat now! For soon you will be still and cold! Slave vengeance was
tramping the land. Vengeance blistered red from every savage eye.
Vengeance glowed from burning cotton fields, billowing like a river afire
under the wind's force. Vengeance leaped from rifle barrels, shovels,
picks, sugar knives, cutlasses, and old chains which formerly shackled the
slaves. Vengeance had seized the slave drivers, managers, and all the
white people and packed them into the stocks. In the compound, the body
of a white man who had tried to resist the rebels lay sprawled in the
mud, blood fountaining from his holed forehead. For on this day of
revolution and rape, Monday, August 18, 1823, slave vengeance was abroad
Sat Le Ressouvenir, as it had been at Haiti in 1804......"
The Le Ressouvenir Rebellion, has been for the first time fictionised
in an 80,000-word novel by P. H. Daly, who, having already made con-
siderable contribution to the historical literature of Guiana, breaks new
ground in this first novel.
The climate of the novel is Guianese. The story begins with the
French occupation in the late eighteenth century, takes the history of
Revolutionary Haiti in its stride, and ends with the first general elec-
tions in Guiana under the secret ballot. Because this novel has not been
published, it would not be fair either way to reveal much of the plot and
first part of the novel is dominated by the sadist the Sinner. The mid-
dle and closing stages spotlight the tragic figure of John Smith, a descend-
ant of a Negro slave and named after the famous London Missionary;
while the Rev. John Smith himself is the central character of the novel's
After the Rebellion, the Rev. John Smith is accused of conspiring
with the slaves. A party of garrison officers, led by the Sinner, arrive
at his house. The door is locked.
"Open the damn door!" yelled the Sinner, kicking it violently.
"Open there!" snapped Sirpson.
"Bejesuchrist! You won't open this damn door! I'll break it".
"Open there!" Simpson shouted.
"Bejesuchrist! Open this damn door! The last time!"
"Open!" Simpson banged on the door.
"Bejesuchrist! Put the hammer on it!"
The blacksmith swung his sledge-hammer and the door splintered.
The Sinner led the rush.
"Arrest you, John Smith!" he yelled, dragging Smith by his coat
collar to his feet. With elaborate care Smith, who had been kneeling
reading from the Bible, continued to read. The words were spoken
slowly, distinctly, Smith's eyes moving from the Bible to the Sinner's face
in an effort to personalise his points:
'Be not afraid of their presence: for I will make thee not to fear their
countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and
a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass over all the land to the kings of
Judea, to the princes thereof, and to the priests and the people of the
Then he put the Bible into his pocket and asked: "Why arrest me?
What have I done?"
"Bejesuchrist! You'll soon know".
"Where's your warrant and what's your charge?"
"Warrant Bejesuchrist! If you want your death warrant I've got
it. This is martial law. Don't you know what martial law is? Didn't
you read the notice in the Royal Gazette?"
"Ordering all white men to enlist for military service."
"As a clergyman I claim exemption from military service."
"Exemption! Damn your eyes. Want me to exempt your head from
your body! If you give me any of your bloody logic I'll sabre you in a
minute. If you don't know what martial law is, Bejesuchrist, I'll show
He drew his sabre half way out, but Simpson stayed his hand, saying,
"Not that way."
"Put the bitch in irons", the Sinner shouted to a militiaman. Then
he asked Smith:
"Hey, parson! Where's your wife? Praying again?"
"My wife has nothing to do with this."
"Answer straightway. Where's your wife?"
"What do you want with her?"
He bawled out as other 'Bejesuchrist' and felt for his sabre, advancing
nearer Smith and yelling into his face:
"Damn your eyes! Where's that wife of yours?"
He rattled upstairs and, belowstairs, they heard his favourite swear-
Then he yelled:
"Like this!" a woman's voice asked in scandalised horror. "With only
my petticoat on!"
"With your pettiskin on! Come straightway!"
Belowstairs Simpson was calling, telling him to hurry up. He
rattled down, dragging the parson's wife by her petticoat.
"What have we done?" she cried.
"That!" he barked, pointing to the smoky sky. "That's the estate
afire. Out it with your Bible."
She cried again.
"Don't cry, dear. If God be for us who can be against us", Smith
"Bejesuchrist! One word more of your theology, parson, and I'll
take you straightway." Then, pointing to Mrs. Smith, he shouted to a
"Put this jezebel in irons."
"No need for that", interposed Simpson. "She's harmless."
"Ah, Derek! You English are soft. Come on! Whips! Twelve hot
ones to keep her skin-and-bone bottom cool."
"You know you can't beat her," Simpson interposed again. "There's
no law now for beating women, black or white."
"But there's a law for white women to plot with niggerwomen to
burn down the estate."
"We must go into that."
The Sinner sucked his teeth.
Pale and trembling, Smith moved across to his wife, but the Sinner
struck him sharply on his shoulder with his sabre, leering derisively:
'Get back, St. Peter; get back St. Paul," every 'back' being accompanied
by a lash with the sabre on his bottom.
The words cut into Smith's heart deeper than the blow, and he stood
trembling with shame and passion. For a few minutes his past life
flashed before him. This was what he had come to, he thought. This
was what he had left England for. He, John Smith, whose brilliant in-
tellect had brought him from the obscurity of baker's boy in Clerkenwell,
to recognition as one of England's most electrifying preachers. He re-
called how he had joined the London Missionary Society, and had been
ordained at Somers Town with such imposing ritual. Why he had
decided on missionary work in slave-ridden Demerara, he did not know.
He tried to think back, now. Whether it was the spirit of Christ
that had inspired him, or the spirit of curiosity he had never been able to
find out. Whether it was a love of English liberties, as such, or a love of
regro slaves as such, he had never been quite certain. But there he was,
He, an Englishman abused, humiliated, struck, by a mulatto; a man
whose very complexion would have branded him a social outcast even
in Liverpool among the docks.
He stood there, shaking his head after receiving the blow, and looking
through misty eyes at his wife, Jane. She had loyally insisted on coming
with him, !o share in his work. "My God! My God! My God! My wife!
My wife! My home! England." He shook his head as the though's
tumbled painfully through his bruised memory.
"Bejesuchrist! Hey, parson! What's all this head-shaking. You're
sending signals to God Almighty! And what's all this praying hands!
Your'e saying your Rosary."
He rapped Smith's clasped hands sharply with his sabre, saying:
"Praying! Praying- Praying! You pray master general, you."
He slapped on !he shoulder with his sabre, laughing mockingly:
"Pray master general! Bejesuchrist."
With sudden spirit Smith threw back his head, his frail, consumptive
figure seemed to have grown tauter. He looked at the mocking mulatto
before him, and shouted back:
"Do you think you're speaking to negroes like yourself, sir. I'll have
you know you've the pleasure of being rude to your better." His body
shook with emotion.
Out came the sabre completely this time, but Simpson interposed
again, saying, "Easy, there, Sinney. Form up, there."
The procession formed up with Smith leading, the Sinner next, the
blacksmith and burgher militiaman following, and Simpson and Mrs.
Smith trailing in the rear. They marched through the sweltering heat,
from the missionary quarters to Colony House where Smith was thrown
into a basement by the Sinner to await trial by court martial.
EXCHANGE OF LETTER S
Correspondence on the Calypso
(From A. J. Seymour to W. H. L. Allsopp)
Dear Bertie Allsopp,
It is rather a long time since you were good enough as to let me
hear at your home, your collection of calypso records; and although
Belatedly, I want to say thank you. But if you don't mind, I would
like also to "redeem the time" as some writer or other puts it, although
in one of the best secular senses of that phrase, preserve in literary
amber shall I say the rhythms that I heard then and at the risk of being
called a would-be-expert at one sitting, (or is it hearing, in this instance)
I want to record one or two impressions I got at that time.
You were very patient with my lack of knowledge-I remember that
well-and also with my desire to place the calypsoes in categories, I can
see now that -it was an unconscionable desire, but I wonder if you would
check this and see if I have got the record right.
The two earliest, you remember, are Matilda and Sly Mongoose.
The first of these classics deals with money and an unfaithful woman,
I think, who went to Venezuela, and the second-I seem to see it as an
extension of the tradition of the creole proverb which Rev. Alfred Hardy
Describes for us in British Guiana and which Mr. Lewis O. Inniss has
collected in Trinidad. Sly Mongoose, the animal type which is meta-
phoric for the human, is preoccupied with the chicken in the kitchen and
so on. Would it be true to say that these two are more folk songs than
calypsoes, or at least that they are on the boundary line?
And yet you know that raises the question-What is the difference
between a calypso and a folk song? Are they not the same thing? This
is a digression I know but perhaps we'd better tackle it here because
it's fundamental to get our bases right.
Espinet of the Guardian, has written a little book on the calypso
that I read some years ago and I think he made the following points.
The Calypso began with the slaves singing in the canefields in the early
days when Trinidad was Spanish. Then in the latter part of the eighteenth
century, the French families came and added their influence upon this
impromptu folk song, to those of the Spanish musical modes and the
African rhythm. They still sing in the fields in Trinidad, I'm told.
SWhen Newnham and Anderson, the script writer and
photographer team from the Central Office of Information, were in
Trinidad two years ago they went to take photographs of peasants work-
ing on the land and to their surprise they heard the singing change from
group songs to lines like this:-"So they gwine take we picture, yes ....
we gwine see we faces in the Guardian, oui" and so on.
Vivian Comma is a young composer in Trinidad who has written
Swords and music for Beryl MoBurnie Shows at The Little Carib. He
tells me that the American "occupation" of Trinidad has not had a good
influence on the artistic development of the Calypso; they made demands
upon it as a form of entertainknent-they wanted to hear-more and more.
Composers were forced to turn out calypsoes one after the other, using
it is said, different words upon the same rhythms, and paying less atten-
tion to the elaboration and development of the musical side. It appears
further-and I haven't got this from Comma-that most Americans were
satisfied, nationally and aesthetically, with the words and rhythms of
Rum and Coca Cola.
That is quite a digression, isn't it? But it does show the influence
of entertainment demands upon a young art form and so illustrates the
evolution-would disintegration be the better word? of the impromptu
folk song that people sang to keep their spirits bubbling, into the calypso
that we know nowadays. I haven't plotted into the picture, the part played
by the healthy stimulation of the calypsoes by the annual carnival com-
petitions, and that must have been considerable. But I want to come
back to our afternoon together.
You remember, don't you, taat I asked you to place the calypsoes
into categories and you suggested this is where I particularly need
your help that there were straight narrative calypsoes, such as the
well known Victory Test Match, which has become a kind of National
Anthem for the West Indies, based as it is, on the test match victory at
Lords in 1950; then there were the sensuous ones, based on incidents
with women, Norah is the modern day classic in this field. I think, you
know, Norah is the first calypso that I ever really listened to. I had
heard others before of course, but Norah was played when I was staying
in the same household with Vivian Comma and he rushed out of his room
and said "wait, a minute please, I want you to hear this song by Kit-
chiner", and so we all listened and afterwards embarked upon general
The rhythms in Norah are very attractive even when you haven't
heard the words and I like the way in which the rhythms allow an
uninhibited West Indian shouting fort of the name at three rising levels
ot appeal. But won't you agree that the words in this song flatter the
West Indian's sexual ego, suggesting as they do, that this English girl is
dying of love for him and he shamelessly gives her flimsy excuses about
wanting to go home to see his grandmother in Trinidad? Like Victory
Test Match, this calypso assumes a certain equality of West Indian with
Englishman on the human and personal levels:-one in the realm of
cricket, the game we have learned from England and the other in the
realm of love, where human being meets human being, without imperial
or colonial associations making the contact conventional. What un-
consciously seems to give West Indian hearers the feeling of equality is
that the man is treating the girl as he would treat any girl he is tired
of, back in Trinidad.
We're still talking of the second category of calypso, that based on
incidents with women. This is by far the largest class. Take for exam-
ple, Tongue-tied Baby, which generally arouses a smile because the lover ,
is amazed and intrigued by the tongue-tied accent of his girl friend.
She has something there that the others can't give him, which is a kind
of mustard to the dish,
The calypso is a Trinidadian product and the texts of the songs never
allow you to forget that it is a product of the lower middle classes, as
they pillory the women of this class for their greed and selfishness, the
ease with which they are reputed to desert their common-law husbands
for other suitors with more money to offer them. There is a calypso
about "dying a bachelor" incidentally it has some very attractive male
singing rhythms coming from a distance which seems to convey to me
at least, the idea of men in a boat singing across the water and the song
coming to people on the riverbank well, this points out the advantages
of never mixing matrimony with love affairs.
So far the men have it all their own way. They rationalise on their
unfortunate experiences and compose their songs. I wonder if this male
monopoly will be broken. Wouldn't it be interesting to see one or two
women calypso singers arise from the lower middle class, who will exploit
all the charms of their sex as they sing and then give the men back all
they shall we say deserve? and accuse them of being lazy, of being
gigolas and the like.
There is a third class. In some of these calypsoes, the Trinidadian
accuses the "small islander" who comes to Trinidad, of being an uppish
person. I daresay some of the island wide support of the prohibited -
immigrant expulsion drive, is based on the fear of Trinidadians seeing
Barbadians, St. Lucians etc., with initiative coming into their wealthy
country and so they desire to perform the role of the angel with the
flaming sword. Put them out of Eden they agree.
The calypso is now gaining a middle class audience which revels
in the rhythms and considers that the growing national feeling in the
West Indies makes it right to accept the words. One or two people I
know have an uneasy feeling that as a result of this acceptance, there
is the beginning of an attack on the moral standards of the middle class.
Of course they agree that the standard of education generally reached
by middle class adults acts as a barrier to any insidious attack of this
kind but they fear the effect which the words may have on the minds
of middle class children. The calypso "Kitch" is a case in point, they
claim, the acceptance of Norah has opened the door for "Kitch" which
they say is merely a rather lewd song, composed by a calypso singer,
encouraged by success and so attempting to force it on the taste of a
What a long sentence that was! Anyway, the process of mixing has
. already taken place and it is likely that we shall see some progress towards
a cleaner and more subtle type of calypso.
One of the things that intrigued me in this calypso business, was
the names the singers gave themselves. They have created a new aris-
tocracy in the entertainment world, and say, ordinary John Smith adds
inches to his social prestige and to his confidence when he calls himself
Lord this or the other. It reminds me a little of the titles such as the
4 Duke of Marmalade, Baron .Lemonade etc., which were created by Henri
Christophe when Haiti became a monarchy, is it? anyway it's all
nicely laid out by Sir Harry Luke in his Caribbean Circuit. Well in the
same way, I seem to discern remember I'm a one-hearing expert -
these aristocrats of the West Indian entertainment world who have
carved out kingdoms for themselves in exile. Lord Kitchiner seems at
present to have an undisputed supremacy at the BBC. In Canada, Lord
Caresser has been doing excellent work, popularising the West Indies on
the CBC and singing the calypso "The West Indies is my happy home".
The U.S.A. as befits the richest country in the world, has two ambassa-
dors settled in it, Sir Lancelot, that rather conscious artist with the refined
voice and his equal, Lord Beginner. I can only mention other figures
like the Duke of Iron and the Growler, and of course there is Edmundo
Ross in New York, whom we associate with the songs which probably
fall into a fourth category, that of social comment "Society", and "Is
it Yes or Is it No?" I am told that each one has his individual style of
approachh, and the calypso fan can unerringly recognize his master's voice.
I have no music and the cold bare words, however analytical of the
social background, can give no idea of the music itself, and that is where
the real contribution to entertainment and art and civilisation lies. But
it is not a West Indian gift. It is en African one.
Rev. A. M. Jones (in the Journal on African Affairs, October 1949
p. 291) in an article on African music, refers to the communal music
that the African makes to "relieve the drudgery of repetition tasks (which)
turns hard labour into an aesthetic and creative experience. There is
the regular swish of canoe paddles; the thump-thump of the pestles in
the mortar as women pound their grain; ...... while even such a prosaic
and dull job as drilling the hole in the rocky face of a mine, is at once
turned by the African into a rhythm to be embellished by a communal
song". I am going to include another passage from Rev. Jones' excellent
article because it shows the close relation between the calypso and the
African music: Rev. Jones says of African Melodies: "t is quite wrong
to think that the tunes are repeated over and over again with no variation
at all......there is variation; it is frequent but it is subtle, a slight change
here, an extra note there, make all the difference to those who know what
they are listening to. The African is not anything, if not subtle......he
has a subtle genius for suggestion and variance ...... the music itself,
in Kaffir Piano (Kalimba) playing, consists of a fairly short melody
repeated many times, but accompanied by an astonishing number of varia-
tions. The melody may remain on the Kalimba or be left to the voice
of the singer. The accompaniment may be in block fourths and fifths,
with an occasional octave; it may be in duple or triple time, or a mixture
of both; it may be spread out in arpeggio style, it may be sprinkled with
rests and subtle rhythmic variations of all kinds emphasising certain
notes at certain points of the melody-and these notes will vary from
verse to verse".
To realize the way this description of Rev. Jones's fits calypso
music is to realise in the words of a musician, the infinite gradations of
sound that calypso singers achieve in their music against simple and
sometimes rather unsubtle words.
Oh, I should stop here. This letter has been dragging its Alex-
anderine length along for quite a while and there is much more I would
like to say, but I shall rest your eyes after I merely mention two other
Things. In spite of his wonderful memory, Homer was a singer like these
men, coming at the end of a tradition which supplied him with the
Trojan war and the return home of a captain who loved adventure. Will
ithe calypso singers embark on stylised tales of the rise of Haiti and
the cunning of Touissant L'Ouverture and his defeat and death ? (I'm
tempted to try a hand myself at an easy-to-say-and-to-remember type
of narrative, especially as Touissant seems to provide the framework of
a ready made epic, but I halt at the thought of the music). With Homer,
tae calypso singer is cousin also to the troubadours of 18th century
France. Homer was a historian and poet, the troubadours peddled in
love, the calypso singers are satirising their own and other local classes.
Now what have I left out that should go on the record ?
From W. H. L. Allsopp to A. J. Seymour
Dear A. J. Seymour,
I have been going through your very interesting letter on our after-
noon of calypsoes. I repeat now as then that I am by no means an
authority on them, merely a whimsical collector who just sits and listens.
True I attempted to put them into categories but we soon realized that
my categories were not as absolute and definitive as they perhaps can be.
Alternatively the categories may be further subdivided into classes or
groups, but I should leave that to someone less incompetent than I.
I cannot entirely agree that Matilda and Sly Mongoose are more folk
songs than Calypsoes. I have always heard them as a little boy as typical
calypsoes complete with chorus or refrain and with what I regard as the
typical type of rhythm, but I should not go into the musical side of this
subject as there you will find that I know even less.
You mentioned Norah as being the modern day classic among the
sensuous calypsoes. It has long been superseded by "Kitch" which has
been brought much unto the public ear after being banned by ZFY. It
is very flattering to the West Indian sexual ego as you have said of
"Norah", and in fact all that you have said there is true in a greater
degree of "Kitch" with its suggestive, somewhat nebulous, but definitely
provocative lines. Its saving grace is that it is excellent music to which
to dance conventionally, or uninhibitedly as may so easily be witnessed
outside many "parlours" which give their juke-box music a nightly public
I think that the new aristocracy created by the calypsonian, Dukes,
Lords, etc. is a further attempt at elevating their ego to a level of equal-
ity, a parody on the English aristocracy and at the same time, by virtue
of the exploits recounted by the singers, a direct "attack" on that class
I am told that it was reported in the "Guardian" that the wife of a
former British Foreign Secretary entered a Calypso camp in Trinidad
during Carnival. The singer was extolling the unusual ability of "Mary's
Little lamb" when he courteously swung to a spontaneous description of
the Foreign Service. After the applause had quelled, the lady on being
asked for a request, perhaps for want of knowledge and yet not wanting
to tbe nonplussed, said that she desired to hear in full "Mary's little Lamb".
There was a howl of astonishment, then the singer rendered the song
with all its lewdness while the lady, unaware of the double entendres
which so tickled the crowd and not understanding all the words, smiled
appreciatively, made a handsome contribution and said it was "the best
of its kind she had heard" !
I agree that the lewd calypsoes are an insidious attack on the morality,
not so much of adults, as of children. I have head a 12-year-old singing
Kitch and when his Grannie asked him what were the words he expressed,
he indulgently replied that "they were not for big people to hear". Then
again on the Corentyne, I am sure that the two little children were not
more than 7 years old but they were flouncing and saying "Wamadin and
Valentine". I was with the Headmaster of the school of the district and
he immediately glanced at the parent who promptly gave the kids a shout.
They desisted for a while then started with "Norah Norah Norah -"
We all were amused and amidst a snigger, the mother explained that
"they know the ABC good, but next door is the dance hall". But that
is quite a digression and you asked what you left out. I would say that
it would be interesting to trace the history of the calypsoes in the various
islands. I think that they stem from slightly different sources. Some
African students out here had mentioned that the Trinidadian calypsoes
were the same type of songs which they called "High Life" in West Africa.
The plantation songs of the islands and the boat shanties of B.G. are I
think quite different. The question of music is most important for
classifying into categories and I think that if you classified separately on
the basis of types of music, subject, audience, appeal, then cross grouped,
it would be possible to get the absolute and definitive categories which
you are after.
Apart from the above, I would say let a musician try with both our
comments, as such a person being more knowledgeable in the subject than
either of us can collate our thoughts and explain things better.
W. H. L. ALLSOPP.
Letters to Margaret
Yet how live, if not by love
giver and gift of life
Faith, stern chisel of our fortunes
roots in love,
is free, is flame, is not
to be confused with wishing,
Faith is learnt
Wishing, mere reaction
to dull circumstance, projection
into infinite regions of the possible
of an infinite will
So often a thoughtless rebel
We have invented Fate,
the turning world, but not the mind
that sponsors its existence,
oh, yet our single pride, our one
and true inheritance
possesses in its turn, the earth and sky,
invests dull earth with wonder,
aims its noose
at the remotest of the glittering worlds.
Yet not without prayer is light,
no light not song
and the song sacred
A song is love, the pure
emergent crystal of creative motion
is God, who lays waste with terrible pity
our bright dark towers.
Art and Criticism
by WILSON HARRIS
A very important contribution to criticism of art was made by
Engels, and later re-affirmed by George Lucacs, the great marxist critic
whom Thomas Mann describes as "the most important literary critic of
This contribution, which to my mind reacts with poetic justice on
many of the theories., of Lucacs himself, is that creative work may, and
often does have, entirely different meanings to what the author hopes,
and may be the exact opposite of his subjective idealism or the mechani-
cal idealism of his time. This method has been used brilliantly in a
study of the works of Balzac and Tolstoy.
And it becomes certain when one considers the principles closely
that many are the pitfalls presenting themselves in a work of art, and
it is not to be wondered at therefore that so many blunders have been
made in criticism. I recall a few instances-Shakespeare, Francis
Thompson, El Greco, primitive art facilelyy pigeon-holed as the "by-
products of savages" until quite recently).
The, problem then clearly is that an objective process exists, a secret
form or tradition, which yields itself, fragmentarily perhaps, but de-
cisively as time goes on. And that this process has been given so
limited a recognition, has been grasped so very insecurely, that the
sensuous phenomenon (if we may describe art and life in this way)
has been little understood.
What may we conclude from all this! What points may we
develop It appears at the outset that a gulf exists between the idealism
of the world, its optimism and illusion, and the actual state of the world,
its processes, its changes, its needs. This is a legacy handed down to
us by older generations. The wide difference between human passion
and destiny on the one hand, and order and morality on the other, was
reflected with all the force of imagination in the works of Dostoevsky.
The efforts made to bridge that gap, to find an architectural principle
that would solve the problem, have been many.
Two notable attempts are marxism and existentialism, the first
concerning itself with necessity, the second with fate (that is with the
human being, the subjective 'objective contradictions of his life).
Clearly then both of these are in the final analysis concerned with the
same thing, though the identity slips constantly from our grasp. We
limit ourselves within a purely subjective idealism, or a purely
mechanical idealism and therefore cannot understand what is happening.
The contradiction in marxism and existentialism lies in our creative
approach to life. We still live within a changeless mould: School or
church or parliament. We envisage attempts by the classical authorities,
in the best sense, to extend a hand to human necessity and human fate.
The significant thing is that in the end our hopes are shattered and we
find how very inadequate is a contract with necessity or fate, how weak
is the classical architecture of the world, and how terrible is the necessity
for a new architecture.
Very clearly that new architecture is not something novel in the
nineteenth-century optimistic sense. It is rather a profound rediscovery
of that deep organism that presently moves away from and eludes our
grasp that objective process that reveals the true state of the classical
world, however horrible, as a pre-requisite of change.
I hope I have managed to suggest from the foregoing that the schools
of our time, however radical, have been limited to a statistical function
than a. creative form so that the situation of the genuine creative mind
in art or in criticism becomes increasingly difficult since in the very
nature of things its work is a disruption of the subjective and mechanical
platforms of the world. The identity that it discovers in the association
of life and environment is a deep process immensely altering or breaking
the shape of things in "the domain of the specific and esoteric" (Malraux)
or in the "archetype of the collective unconscious" (Jung). And no
mechanism has interior validity, otherwise, nor can society or culture
trace its origin from spiritual or so-called higher powers. To put it in
other words the impact of the human mind and body on the hard
world, in constructing something and destroying something, has a unity
or combination that is both secret and plain, immaterial and material,
showing forth the power of passion, the limits and order of being. What
is truly particular is not isolated or static but is an association of
numerous factors. Value or spirit is the illumination of dark energies.
The new architecture of the world must be a profound understanding
and revelation of all factors that combine into the phenomenon of effort
and achievement not for one race of men but for all mankind together.
Not simply for a glorious name or tradition in the historical sense but
for an identity that is purposive and vital in a universal and manifestly
We may well ask ourselves can the creative artist overcome the
changeless spirit and mechanical institutions of his world ruthlessly
enforced upon him ? Let us glance at this problem in American literature
I choose American literature for ': special reason. American creative
literature has displayed a wonderful energy and spirit, which speak well
for the potentialities of a new world, and which have a natural daring
beyond the statistical rectitude of exhausted or bloodless passions. Yet
energy, while essential for change or creation or art, may be self-
It may be -
a wish to be again
threatened alive, in agonies of decision,
part of our nation, of a fanatic sun.
This reminds me that there is a school of West Indian art which
idealizes the sun. And it has always struck me that this is an American
attitude, American idealism. I have lived for long periods in savannahs
so much exposed to heat and fire, that the sun has become an adversary
-- one of two antagonistic principles night and day and only an
association of these two principles provides release. The architecture
of release which would bring the forms that are bound in a principle
of subjection, genuinely into the light of day, without cruel suffering,
must find truly that the sun has no stationary hold over its subjects
like a feudaCi lord over his serfs.
The sun therefore is indeed a great reality in the West Indian world
in a more terrible sense than the poet realises when he exclaims
Sun's in my blood.
So in the American world energy is the sun of life. America has
produced a group of poets in modern times whose energy has been
indeed remarkable and unbroken but yet no distinctive movement in
the arts has arisen to cope with the divided heritage of the world, since
one may only point to the symbol of an overwhelming ordeal without
Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, Robinson Jeffers, Muriel Rukeyser, Wallace
Stevens, Archibald MacLeish, Delmore Schwartz, Kenneth Patchen,
Hart Crane, perhaps the most gifted of all, became a "chronic
alcoholic, purposely blunting his sensibilities, driving himself to
Daemon, demurrng and eventful yawn!
Whose hideous laughter is the bellows mirth
Or the muffled slaughter of a day in birth -
O cruelly to inoculate the bringing dawn
With antennae toward worlds that spark and sink -
To spoon us out more liquid than the dim
Locution of the oldest star,
Archibald MacLeish, poet and critic, has given us "Frescoes for
Mr. Rockfeller's City".
Everything sticks to the grease of a gold note -
Even a continent even a new sky!
In his verse play "The Fall of the City" MacLeish supplies the conqueror
clad in ancient armour. When the visor opens it is found that the armour
is only a shell. No one is within. But the people refuse to understand.
They shout as though they had won a victory : Masterless men have found
Let us compare Robinson Jeffers, poet of despair, commenting on
the social scene and on civilisation.
While this America settles in the mold of its vulgarity,
heavily thickening to empire,
with Wallace Stevens, poet of refinement and reticence
The prologues are over. It is a, question, now,
Of final belief. So, say that final belief
Must be in a fiction. It is time to choose.
That obsolete fiction of the wide river in
An empty land; the gods that Boucher killed;
And the metal heroes that time granulates -
The philosopher's man alone still walks in dew,
Still by the sea-side mutters milky lines
Concerning an immaculate imagery.
Him chanting for those buried in their blood,
and the very crude light of Robinson Jeffers seems to generate a priestly
glow of beauty above a human sacrifice.
American poets and poetry cannot be adequately dealt with here,
even if I were qualified or able to do so. It is one of the arts where
America has consciously and unconsciously held a mirror to the contra-
dictions of society and the individual that appears is burdened by the
continuation of classic idealisms. One wonders how lasting will be the
product of American classicism
the man of glass,
who in a million diamonds sums us up.
Still all the generations of power and energy are actively present to
maintain that conception, beautiful in opulence and fury, purposive and
purposeless, silting slowly over the objective identity of the human
A great deal of thought and probing become necessary to plumb the
real meanings of creative literature or art. And on this essential appraisal
and dialogue the survival of the artist must. depend. Whatever happens
-art will always be- since life in its essential contradiction is art: it is
the deep unconscious humour of carnival.
Out of the Shadows
We lay for aeons
in the shadow of a mighty will........
dull, eyeless lengths of soft steel
needling northern certainty at the call of the Pole;
powerless index of points of circled space
unblessed with the lodestone's charging touch........
obedient marionettes imagining trance-like
life's actions at their originals' promptings;
inanimate dolls staring unseeing at the snapped strings
in the hands of the minds supernal.
We see our similitudes in the mirroring blue -
sand racing before the driving wind
dying in glassy sheets at the foot of the contemptuous sea
when it goes home........
shot arrows of steel striking the faultless marks;
useless rusts of iron under the covering wave
outside the radar's reach.
Our sick wills
live without volition
robotting over the world's furrows
But not ever thus........
says a Voice as grey as Time:
"The seeds of your stunted wills
"upturning the rocking weights
"will loom into mighty forest trees
"overshadowing none but sheltering all
"and the strength of their voltage
"will be patterned full percentage
"in the clear green
"on the Measurer's global screen.
On Jamaican Poetry
by BASIL McFARLANE
The claim for Tom Redcam (Thomas Henry MacDermot) as the
father of a literary expression peculiarly Jamaican is not recent and
dates officially from the evening of October 26, 1933 when the Poetry
League met to do him honour and to extend to him the title of Poet
Laureate. The occasion was lent pathos by the fact of Redcam's death
in London only eighteen days previously.
In those days the lecture hall of the Institute occupied the upper
floor of the main building, the present position of the West India
Reference Library, and one remembers well the atmosphere of the room
which was the scene of so many meetings of the League with its heavy
dark furnishings and portrait of Baron Olivier. In these days of catas-
trophe external and private it is next to impossible to enter into the
spirit of that time which preceded the Second World War with its
consequent alteration of the principles of behaviour; or to understand
the motives of the League in this gesture towards a poet of hardly
more than ordinary endowment. Since, however, it is my conviction
that the effort is worth making if only because it helps to clarify'
contemporary issues I offer it as my only justification for the present
The Pioneer Press publication "Orange Valley and other Poems"
may be considered a further extension of the gesture beforementioned.
It represents the culmination of the labours of those who knew and
loved Redcam and appreciated the main enthusiasm of his life which
was, simply, for the Jamaican environment and its preservation in
literature. Of the poems in this volume this enthusiasm remains the
most captivating feature. Redcam's lyric gift has been praised, notably
by Mr. Clare McFarlane in his introduction to this first and only published
collection of the verse; but I beg to point out that the woeful pedes-
Misfortune may smite me, the stranger oppress me
As I toil for my bread on an alien shore;
Though they rob me of all, they can never bereave me
Of the brown mountain village I see ever more
is only justifiable on the ground that in the last two or one-and-a-half
lines is sounded the exquisite moral which to those who love this
country, or who indeed have ever loved any" country, requires no
exposition. This was his sincere and unique contribution and it seems
only fair to acknowledge it as it is no more than fair to admit that,
sentiment and intention to one side, the large majority of his poetic
work was derivative and uninteresting.
Mr. W. Adolphe Roberts has written in superlatives of "San Gloria",
the verse-drama of Christopher Columbus' enforced sojourn at St. Ann's
Bay. The drama is non-existent since the characters remain the ten-
tative lay figures of the student. Feeling is sustained through the
consistent evocation of tropical mood and atmosphere, at once abundant
and enervating. Columbus'
A dark foreboding haunts me lest I die
Amid the careless beauty of this isle,
And these great heights, blue, forest-garmented,
That wave slow signals to the mighty deep,
Callous to smaller things, across my grave
Stare; while the green things tangle on the plain;
While the soft waters lip the sandy shore;
While dawns, arriving, spread their crimson flags;
And passing day gives all her tents to fire,
Seeking a new encampment; doves will coo
When, into deep oblivion sunk, my grave
Lies in the flood of life that blots out all,
While the great hills stare on, o'er shrub and vine,
is thematic. As will be seen there is danger here of meaning being
sacrificed to the mere conjuring of atmosphere; also, as was perhaps
inevitable in a piece of this length, it becomes evident that what was
the controlling impulse behind Redcam's verse could easily have
developed into a turgid obsession. The drama does not develop because
there is too little detachment and nut enough interest in people for
their own sake. The verse suffers similar propagandistic limitations.
For all that the subject is probably the ideal one for a Jamaican
poet and remains to tempt any who may be disposed to try his hand
Of the patriotic songs then, the most effective are the earlier "Song
of 1891" which has a kind of innocent rhetoric, and "Dry Harbour";
nor is it easy to resist the impression that, among the passages in his
book, the most felicitous are those which occur during periods of the
poet's temporary estrangement from his overmasteringg passion". There
are lines like these in "Killed", written for MacDermot's cousin, a
casualty of the First World War, and in the light-hearted "I am in love
with Life", composed shortly before his own death. In the closing
lines of "Dry Harbour" occurs as eloquent a deposition as any I could
give on the strange limitation of Tom Redcam
Whose sad, clear, steadfast gaze sees but the past.
It is not enough to say that since the days when Redcam first wrote,
in the first decade of this century, or since even that evening eighteen
years ago when an officer of the Poetry League in all good faith placed
in the hands of his widow a lignum vitae wreath, that tenets of what
constitutes good poetry have changed. Fashions have altered as fashions
will; but on that evening Redcam was being honoured for his faith in
a country and by those to whom in some sense he had managed to trans-
mit that faith. Their recognition and his deserving of it took each the
forms they best knew and it is perhaps our tragedy that today we are
virtually incapable of understanding either.
In 1946 George Campbell published "First Poems", a book that was
hailed in some quarters as embodying the first representation in verse
of the national spirit. Any consideration of these two poets together
must promote sociological reverberations. Campbell's activity as a poet
goes back to the year of Redcam's death and the public's earliest
acquaintance with him probably dates from about the period to which
many Jamaicans look back as the beginning of a new era in the political
and industrial life of the island. With Trade Unionism and party politics,
with Universal Suffrage came the songs of this natural rhetorician in an
idiom that owed very little to external influences.
"First Poems" was produced after a dozen or so years of prepara-
tion, while its author was still a young man and with a formal dedication
which showed both consciousness of a certain purpose in its creation
and awareness of an audience. Redcam's book, compiled and edited
by friends nearly eighteen years after his death, is made up of pieces
composed largely as a relaxation from strenuous journalistic activity
(he was editor of the "Jamaica Times") and represents the work of not
less than twenty years. We need go no further in the matter of com-
parison since the main differences should be clear. As to their respective
merits as poets these may be considered irrelevant for the time beiRg.
The significance surely is in the varying times during which both men
lived; though it would not be inaccurate to describe them as contempor-
aries. Both, I contend, have been true to the pattern of their times and
the astonishing thing is not that one should have been bad and the other
good but that writing within the same generation they managed to pro-
duce verse that in the corresponding European scale is at least a century
One thing unites them: a patriotism that is neither vulgar nor aggres-
sive but, at best, mystical. It is possible that this may continue to be
a characteristic of Jamaican poetry, however startlingly diverse are the
forms which future manifestations take. Today, with Federation in the
offing, the nationalist fervour which sparked Campbell's Muse is like a
candle in daylight. In another twenty years many of his premises and
conclusions, omissions and acceptance, will very likely be as incompre-
hensible as are so many of Tom Redcam's today. But, whatever happens
to the factions, it is unlikely that any poet deserving to be called Jamaican
will be unable to partake of the spirit behind the lines:
Wind, where cometh
the fine technique of rule passing through me, my hands
wet with the soil and I knowing my world?
Hunting for History
by ANDREW PEARSE
One of the lasting pleasures of a country with a history is to walk
about in its towns and villages with one's eyes open, allowing one's self
to be reminded constantly of a many coloured history by the associations
which cling to old buildings, markets, monuments, the road one is travel-,
ling and the shadows left in the fields by agricultural processes of an age
gone by. In a new country without recorded history these pleasures are
missing. But as soon as one delves into the past, even in a comparatively
new country, the encounters and experiences of every day life begin to
take a new meaning. In the West Indies, though there is a considerable
amount of recorded history dealing with naval, military and political
matters, the life of the common people is only now beginning to be
studied. Popular customs and pastimes in the' West Indies are extremely
varied and the would-be student is often bewildered by the diversity of
In Trinidad a group of us have recently undertaken the study of a
single aspect of the folk tradition with the intention of collecting facts
about it and ordering and illustrating these facts in such a way as to give
a general picture of the subject, which is a form of stick fighting known
The name Kalenda has been widely known in many parts of the new
world for at least 200 years, and it has come to mean different things in
different places. Pere Labat claims that the dance was brought from the
kingdom of Allada in West Africa and he says that it fascinated the
French West Indies to such an extent that even the nuns could not restrain
themselves and danced it behind locked doors in the convents. The
Kalenda in Trinidad is not significant as a dance but for the fact that it
has become associated with a form of stick-fighting. We are studying
this phenomenon. The subject is suitable because Kalenda as stick-fight-
ing seems to be a unique product of Trinidad, or at least it has reached
a unique form in Trinidad. A fair amount of information is available
from old people living today and there are one or two places in Trinidad
where even the young still fight with enthusiasm. It is a pastime in which
not only the creole population, but also the East Indians have participated
and won great reputations. Our team consists of persons with musical
knowledge able to write the Kalenda songs in sol-fa and staff notation,
others who understand the Creole Patois, a painter whose strongest
impulse is a desire to describe in paint the scenes and customs of popular
life, and an expert in photography and sound recording. If we can find
the resources it may even be possible for us to make a very brief film
Perhaps the main problem we have to tackle is that of organising our
co-operative study effectively. We find it so easy to enjoy to the full our
outings, interviews and our rummy musical sessions, that we sometimes
forget to pursue with sufficient strictness and application the information
we are seeking. Even the classificaion of the little pink cards we use for
notes becomes a problem, and calls for a card index system.
In addition to noting songs, and the typical drum beats which accom-
pany them, we are trying to write down biographies of outstanding stick-
men, as well as some of the interesting myths and legends of apocryphal
events which we come across. We are studying the technique of stick-
fighting, its ethics, its geographical and racial distribution, and
the attitude of the various classes of society to it. We find
certain interesting superstitions and magical practices associated
with it. For instance in Port of Spain and elsewhere it 'was usual
to have a blood hole of "tou sang" into which the wounded fighter
would let his blood drop. One of the reasons given for this is
that if my blood falls on the ground and is dried by the sun, then the
blood in my veins will dry up, and I shall sicken. Personally I expect to
hear another explanation, but no one has given it yet.
Another interesting aspect of the study is that, stickfighting
was also a part of the gang warfare which has played so signifi-
cant a role in local life. The festival of Canboul (Cannes Bru-
lees), which used to take place at 12 o clock midnight before the first
day of Carnival, consisted of open warfare between the warriors of adja-
cent regions. Canbould was outlawed in the '80s of the last century,
but the bands have remained, and the basic formation of the steel bands
of today, and their form of warfare, has carried on the same tradition.
A study of the nature of leadership in these bands or gangs has interest-
ing implications for understanding many current social phenomena in
politics; and in certain indigenous religious groups.
I hope that the efforts of our team will be able to produce something
of interest to Trinidadians, and if we can get them printed, to others as
well. But whether we succeed or not, the undertaking is quite fascina-
ting, and is something which to my mind could well be done elsewhere.
There are a large variety of fetes, customs, dances, etc., which one can
still see and hear on occasions, or at least hear tell of. They will be
extinct before long unless plenty of interested amateurs get down to the
job of recording them systematically.
A strain of music can lift the heart
Into a world of light,
Into the arms of angels by
The waters of pure delight,
Over the rainbow, above the moon,
Where the sunbeams danced quite near,
And stars, like a train of tears of joy
At eventide appear.
A. N. FORDE.
Day Before Ash Wednesday
There is a bee
feeding on the pollen
of my breast
as the sun
with professional touch
brings colour to the limbs
a warm flood to the warm blood.
in the clenched heart:
for this day is gay
and warm with music-weather
There is a heat
in my temples
and in the stream
of mad pounding
my pulse leaps
with its message
to the waiting lips.
The limbs take
power and triumph
from the beating hands
and the bands
of trivial maids
tie their modesty in a fling.
No more here
the pull of gravity
but the soul steeped
in the stimulant
of a tune.
And after all
the wine and wandering
through hectic streets
and the moon sheds
grains of silver
from the sheaves
in the clouds
And on the seashore
the artistic waves
ply their brushwork
on the sands
and memory nods
to wake on the shoulder
of Ash Wednesday.
Letter to the Editor
Three Evenings with Six Poets
We have delightful whispers for literary ears. We are meeting a
variety of West Indian writers-Poets, poetesses and prophets. Up to
row we have met only one poetess; the others were masculine and oh,
on the second evening there was the lone figure of a man standing on an
intellectual promontory in the ocean of time. A solitary figure, gesticu-
lating and expressing himself in a curiously fascinating manner which
seemed foreign to most of us. And though he spoke English he made the
language seem different and exciting and new to us; for we being fresh
from the sixth are accustomed to Shelley's and Tennyson's and Eliot's
in not-too-strong doses. He may be the prophet, we think. In fact, we
feel it in our bones !
Well, we are really running out of order and if we must begin at
the beginning you must hear of the three Jamaican writers who were
introduced to the group on the first evening.
Una Marson came first. As soon as she was ushered in we were
disarmed by her simple, unassuming manner. In a moment we were
being lured "TOWARDS THE STARS". It was her soft-toned voice that
did it. Some day you must see for yourself how the Nature World of
dance rhythmically to the tune of her miraculous lyre; some day you
must be touched as we were, by the sweet sad notes that Love drew forth
from her delightful instrument. Someday you must eavesdrop as we did
that evening when she was whispering:
Listen, little wild violet,
Your heart beats wildly as mine
When you hear the feet of your lover
Stop by the Celandine.
And she will arouse your sympathy too in "THE STRIFE", which we
cannot help but lift -wholesale on to this page, being glad of it:
All day long
And all night long
The salt waves dash
Against the rocks.
Do they never grow weary
Of dashing themselves against the rocks ?
All day long
And all night long
My spirit strives
Against my flesh.
Spirit of mine, do you never weary
Of mightily striving against adamant flesh ?
Perhaps, before we dismiss Una Marson you would like to share a portion
of her "BLACK BURDEN" :
I must not laugh too much,
They say black folk can only laugh;
I must not weep too much,
They say black folk weep always
I must not pray too much,
They say that black folk can only pray.
Well.... we must not write too much, for this black burden is thought
provoking and our second poet from Jamaica is due any time now.
One of us, when asked in the presence of P. M. Sherlock himself what
she thought about P. M. Sherlock's poetry, had replied that she did not
think of it at all. Well, we all thought of "POCOMANIA" that evening,
and very highly too. Most of us decided that this poem and "A BEAUTY
TOO OF TWISTED TREES" (by the same poet) should be placed on the
list of favourites of the evening.
In both these poems one could not help but notice the deeply religious
feeling which pervaded his writings. This feeling was as strong as ever
in the poem called "MY FATHER WALKED BESIDE ME". After reading
these and some others to us, our reader paused to comment on the living
quality in Sherlock's work which greatly impressed her "....for I find,"
she said, "that while reading the works of some other poets I am merely
a spectator, one of the audience, but not so with Sherlock.... his work is
throbbing with life and as usual, simply packed with reference." And
again : "The main characteristic of Sherlock's poetry is, in my opinion;
its pulsing metre forms, but chiefly, I think, of his choice of words and
of images which communicate so exactly, so graphically the ideas behind
tie written verse. Here, for instance, is the final stanza of his famous
"Pocomania" with its refrain which has been called "sinister", but which
I prefer to deem "hypnotic":
Black of night and white of gown
White of altar black of trees.
Swing the circle wide again
Fall and cry me sister now
Let de spirit come again
Fling away de flesh and bone
Let de spirit have a home
Grunting low and in the dark
White of gown and circling dance
Gone today and all control
Power of the past returns
Africa among the trees
Asia with her mysteries
and the refrain :
Black the stars, hide the sky
Lift you shoulder, blot the moon
Long mountain rise",
Some members of the group (the very ones, it is rumoured, who had
come with the intention of being bored, and, if necessary, picking the
tropical bones of their poor fellow natives to pieces), looked as if the
mountain-spirit had crept into them; they kept wondering to themselves
why the public in B.G. did not hear more of these West Indian writers,
whereupon the amused audience, overhearing what was really meant to
be heard, begged them to be silent, for the hour of Pocomania's passing
had come and Walter Adolphe Roberts was at hand.
W. A. Roberts in our opinion was the least West Indian of our guest-
writers that evening (if we dare use this word West Indian without
impunity !) What we mean, is that of all his works read that night, in not
(ne was there found abandon and vivacity, the "sun's-in-my-blood"
feeling that is the natural dowry of the Caribbean. There was no chance
phrase to betray the West Indian environment or influence, no references
to remind the reader of Caribbean surroundings. To put it in a nutshell,
there was absence of the local bias, the local colour.
W. A. Roberts was easily the most detached of our three visitors.
Yet, he was not hostile in his aloofness. In fact, it is this aloofness which
made us examine him more keenly; only to discover that here before us
was one who had not only chosen a new field for ploughing, but was a
master of this chosen field.
You must have heard of the Villanelle, that delightful verse-form
imported by the English from France. It was mainly used for light
poetry.... you know.... Well, this Roberts fellow introduced the Villa-
nelle form to Jamaica as a vehicle for serious poetry. He managed to
achieve a melody and rhythm hitherto entirely unknown to earlier
examples of the verse so that he is a kind of pioneer in his own right.
His work is said to exhibit a high degree of technical excellence. This
was certainly apparent in "THE CAT" who was so royally presented to
our group. She is a queenly, majestic figure, and we, the listeners, are
almost transformed into a group of admirers in regal surroundings. Even
so with the peacock. Here is pride, disdain and beauty all in one,
parading itself before us.
Before 'we permitted the conservative W. A.R. to withdraw from our
semi-circle, the spotlight was focused on her royal highness, The Cat,
which, we have no doubt, appeals to him as a subject because they have
the same majestic air in common:
No one of all the women I have known
Has been so beautiful, or proud, or wise
As this angora with her amber eyes.
She makes her chosen cushion seem a throne,
And wears the same voluptuous, slow smile
She wore when she was worshipped by the Nile.
A touch of gossip.... The fairer section of the group has accepted this as
a challenge. Daily they are ever watching cats. It is even likely that
the greater part of tae leisure hours of the extremist may be devoted to
rigorous exercises in order to achieve the grace and stateliness of .... THE
We think after all, that you may as well have the first verse:
Pleasures that I most enviously sense
Pass in long ripples down her flanks and stir
The plume that is her tail. She deigns to purr
And take caresses. But her paws would tense
To flashing weapons at the least offence.
Humbly, I bend to stroke her silken fur,
I am content to be a slave to her
I am enchanted by her insolence.
The technique of W. A. Roberts is apparent in all of his pieces. It
drew forth admiration from our lips and though we were not as
enthusiastic over him as with the other visitors, we had to admit that
as a craftsman he was unsurpassed that evening.
Of all the people that had to be presented to us on the second
evening......Derek Walcott !
One can imagine the fracas this young poet from St. Lucia created.
It was a storm in the semicircle that was our group. Confidentially speak-
ing we were nearly all blown and scattered into a disorderly rabble and we
barely missed being arrested by a mental police. But this is strictly
tete-a-tete. Don't tell Derek Walcott himself, because, we want him to
have a good opinion of us, or none at all, before we meet him in person,
if we ever do.
Frankly speaking, we don't know quite what to say about Derek
(yes, we got to calling each other by first name by the middle of the
evening) and though we devoted a whole evening to him we still have
our decisions reserved. Derek Walcott is not the sort of person one can
get to know in one evening. He is one who does not take to you
immediately, however much you may admire him; like Mascagni's "Inter-
mezzo", he grows upon you.
However, we can tell you this much: First we all know he is a
prophet. We feel it instinctively. Secondly, Several lady members
emphasised this conviction. We do not know yet what he is prophesying
but time will tell. Thirdly we know he does not know- yet.
One thing was clear, the semicircle was fascinated by his manner
of speech. Though it did not understand quite clearly exactly what
Derek was saying in certain passages, and though a mathematically-
minded member all but extracted paper and pencil to deduce Derek's
message by a Reduction System all his own; in spite of all these things,
we definitely liked him.
What most of us liked about his poetry was the iewels he chose to
pin on paper with his precious pen. His poetry is forever pregnant with
delightfully original metaphors, dazzling similes, photographic phrases
that baffle with suggestion. Here is a gem from Henri Christophe,
which, in one reader's opinion, is the most original metaphor in all the
This world is like a teardrop poised
In the eyelid of Eternity, then dropping down to dark
Round as a bubble, pricked by accident.
More than one person confesses that on the first reading of HENRI
CHRISTOPHE one is so busy being impressed by the way Walcott's
characters express themselves that one is likely to lose the trend of the
story. Originality of expression satisfies our restless desire for something
different. One is haunted by such a picture as
.the steep pass below the sea, knocking
Like a madman on the screaming sand
And the wind howling down the precipices like a lunatic
Searching a letter he never wrote against these rocks.
And here we have the old opinion that "in death are all equal", expressed
in a new way: In death are all honourable.
Derek Walcott does not conceal his feelings about the race problem
in the West Indies. We suppose the classicist, W. A. Roberts must raise
his eyebrows in disapproval, for Derek knows nothing of poetic detach-
ment from contemporary problems. In all of the poems we have read
there lurks the personality of Derek himself, and in several of them there
are such references (sometimes bordering on bitterness) which make us
conclude that this poet is not a little bothered by the race question. It is
quite clear that he believes the races to be like the piano keys indis-
pensable to one another. This is summed up in two lines:
As when the nigger Night has laid his head
To sleep on Day's blond arm.
Somebody remarked that Derek is too young to be so old; too young
to carry such a weight on his shoulders; far too young to adopt such a
European attitude of fatalism in the sunny climes of the Caribbean.
Somebody retorted that he was only passing through a phase and it was
likely that the bitter edge of his poetry would be filed off by the years.
Derek Walcott. We instinctively felt that we were listening to a
genius that night. Yes, this was the mysterious figure on the promontory,
and he is still there as far as we are concerned. We promised to return
to him again another evening. But before we did we expressed our
concern over his fatalistic attitude and wished sincerely that he be
rescued from the waste land of European fatalism which is nowhere on
the map of the West Indies. Only then, we think, will he find his
The two poets who came on the third evening did not stay very long.
Frank Collymore came first.
Unlike Derek Walcott's, Frank Collymore's poetry as seen in FLOT-
SAM, will appeal to young and old, at home and abroad. The poetry in
this book is easy to follow, for the poet does not clothe expression in
elaborate and complicated diction; moreover, his themes are universal. He
speaks of the beauty of Nature, of
The sun's heat distilled by the wind
Into a thousand kisses..
.and lithe figures,
Naked girls, still breastless, mahogany and ebony,
shouting and laughing, their bodies etched
In sunbright darkness along the glittering sand.
He speaks of Music, of Life and Death.
A poem which appealed to the entire group is
HYMN TO THE SEA
Like all who live on small islands
I must always be remembering the sea.
Being always cognizant of her presence; viewing
Her through apertures in the foliage; hearing
When the wind is from the south, her music, and smelling
The warm rankness of her; tasting
And feeing her kisses on bright sunbathed days:
I must always be remembering the sea.
Like all his other pieces in FLOTSAM it is written in a free conversational
style. His manner of approaching us was so direct, so deliberately casual.
Collymore was most entertaining when he spoke of people of the callous
Chippy Joe and the late Officer of H.M. Customs. We enjoyed listening
to his "Portrait of Mr. X".
"I should like to paint you a portrait of Mr. X", he said in his easy
manner. And so we listened with varying reactions to his original sketch.
It was a very clever portrait. What you would call modern art. Of
course, if there were conservative members of our group, they would have
been taken aback; for, instead of being presented with "such a portrait
as might be effected by camera or brush, "Pencil or pen," we were
confronted with the unknown quantity, "Mr. X himself, X as always,
the unknown". To boot .... his viscera !
"And, first and foremost, his viscera would have to
be presented :
All the tremendous implications
Of that unseen, improbable metropolis -
Its remarkable storehouses of energy,
Its sewerage system, its marvels of communication,
Its workers busy on repair, its slum areas,
Its police courts, its chemical laboratories
Its alternating periods of inflation and depression
Its longwave stations all these the background."
There was a mild protest from the group. Somebody asked if this was
modern poetry, and, if so, it was dreadfully realistic; some wondered
how high W. A. R. would raise his eyebrows in poetic protest.
Next came Collymore's views CONCERNING PHOTOGRAPHS.
Some members of the group decided that the poet's views on this subject
were not worth a poem or a page in Flotsam. They much preferred to
hear Collymore tell the touching story of AMANDA, the old nurse, the
...yielded her tenderness
To the children of an alien race, bestowing
The sweets of her spirit upon those who
Demanded all thanklessly, receiving only
A smile, a casual hug, a few shillings a week,
And half a crown at Christmas.
We suppose Amanda was popular with us because we all must have met
Amanda's in our lives, or who knows, we may be Amanda's ourselves !
H. A. Vaughan came to us through SANDY LANE. He was much
concerned about the social condition of Barbados, and he has every right
to be he is a magistrate! His profession is plainly seen in his poetry.
We wondered if W.A.R. would approve of him. He spoke of THE
INQUEST and of juvenile delinquency and of the mob in the street. We
were moved by his sympathy with those who had gone astray and we
especially appreciated the lines that read thus:
Then turn again and smile and be
The perfect answer to those fools
Who aeLways prate of Greece and Rome,
"The face that launched a thousand ships"
And such like things, but keep tight lips
For burnished beauty nearer home.
Turn in the sun my love, my love!
What palm-like grace! What poise! I swear
I prize those dusky limbs above
Though he is not the only poet who wears the love and pride of his race
in his poems, he is one of the few who have struck resonant chords in
our emotion. Equelly appealing to us was DARK VOICES:
There's beauty in these voices. Do not base
Your judgment purely on the affrighted street
The howling mob, the quarrel, or repeat
Your scathing strictures on the market place
There's beauty always urgent in this race
That baffles bondage from its: sure retreat
Of song and laughter.
This is the last we heard of Vaughan.
Three evenings. Six poets. And a promise of new acquaintances
and renewed friendships. Until then Au revoir! And as we
West Indians would say, "It was nice knowing them!"
We an dem is company.
ALL OF US.
LET'S TALK IT OUT
Learning and Acting Together
By A. A. THOMPSON
(BEING PART I OF A PAPER ON ACTIVE METHODS IN THE
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND FUNCTIONAL EDUCATION
THE BRITISH GUIANA CHRISTIAN SOCIAL COUNCIL WAY:
If adults do not understand the purpose, nature and application of
group discussion, their programmes of Social action cannot completely
succeed. On the 13th of October, in Georgetown, the British Guiana
Christian Social Council opened a highly significant programme of Econo-
mic, Social and Political education. Called a "Discussion Week on Social
Questions", it is the perfect example of the most realistic and modern
form of Adult Education. Organised in four commissions, the participants
will study certain urgent social problems of British Guiana, make plans
about them and seek ways and means of carrying out the plans. In open-
ing the programme, the Archbishop of the West Indies and the Rev. Father
Fenn, after him, emphasised the futility of individual action and the effec-
tiveness of social action. This point of view cannot be overstressed at the
present time. Programmes of adult education need to be seen as pro-
grammes of co-operative learning and action.
There are so many problems in a country, the nation, the world....
but what can an individual do about them? Since only organised action
by the group can be effective under present circumstances, one of the
most rewarding education al experiences which can come to adults, and
one of the most socially significant contributions of adult education, is
teaching adults how to organise groups and use them effectively. This
however, is one of the many things which can only be learnt. It cannot
> be taught.
The key to method in adult education is to help people to develop
group organisation in terms of real problems and assist them to study
their problems and work out plans for action, and then carry them through.
By this method, the Christian Social Council has attacked the problems
of the Christian in (a) politics; (b) Business Ethics; (c) Co-operation in
Industry; and (d) the family.
THE BRITISH GUIANA TRADES UNION COUNCIL WAY:
Similarly, two days before the opening of the Christian Social Council
discussion week, the British Guiana Trades Union Council carried through
a programme of Economic Education to find a way out of the problem
of the high cost of living. At a discussion meeting of representatives of
the Trades Union Council and the Legislature, the participants had before
them a document which the Trades Union Council had prepared, Analy-
sing the factors in the high cost of living and suggesting solutions to the
problem. The preparation of this document and the holding of this dis-
cussion meeting of the Trade Union Leaders and Political Leaders, is an-
other example of the active method in social, economic and political
THE BRITISH GUIANA CIVIL SERVICE ASSOCIATION WAY:
In the same week the British Guiana Civil Service Association cir-
culated a questionnaire among its members in an attempt to survey the
financial conditions of Civil Servants and explain the factors contributing
to these conditions and to recommend solutions of the problems to the
THE WAY OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IN THE GOLD COAST:
Writing from the United Nations on the 10th. October, Daniel Chap-
man, the Gold Coaster who is Area Specialist for the West African Colon-
ies said: "In the Gold Coast, the Extra-Mural Department is doing
extremely well. It seems to get all the money it needs. While I was at
home (January 1951 to April 1951) I had the opportunity of attending one
of the conferences organised by the Departmene of Extra-Mural Studies
for the members of the Legislative Assembly. It was on the budget. It
appears that every session of the Assembly is going to be preceded by a
conference dealing with the most important items on the Agenda."
THE UNITED NATIONS WAY:
The prevailing practices, methods and problems involved in obtaining
financial assistance for economic development in undeveloped countries
were the main theme of a meeting of experts from six countries (ChilP,
Egypt, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom), held at Lake
Success from 24th. October to 2nd. November, 1949. The meeting was
called by the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs and was
the first of a series of Seminars on special problems of economic develop-
ment to be held under a General Assembly resolution relating to tech-
nical assistance. Each of the participants attended in an individual capa-
city and had prepared a paper on the subject with special reference to
the experience of his own country in the field of financing. Sr. Sol Luis
Descartes, Treasurer of Puerto Rico, attended the meeting and prepared
a paper on "Financing Economic Development in Puerto Rico, 1941-1949".
This is the way of the United Nations in finding solutions to problems.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council is responsible to
the General Assembly for promoting: (1) Higher standards of living, full
employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and develop-
ment; (2) solutions of international, economic, social, health and related
problems; (3) international, cultural and educational co-operation; and
(4) Universal respect for, and observance of human rights and funda-
mental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language
The Council is assigned the following specific functions:
(1) It makes or initiates studies and reports on international,
social, cultural, educational, health, and related matters
and makes recommendations on such matters to the
General Assembly, to the members of the United Nations,
aid to the specialised agencies concerned (UNESCO, FAO,
WHO, and so on).
(2) It makes recommendations for promoting respect for and
observance of human and fundamental freedoms for all.
(3) It prepares draft conventions for submission to the General
Assembly on matters within its competence.
(4) It calls international conferences on matters within its
Subsidiary organs reporting to the Council are of four types : Commis-
sions, Standing Committees, Adhoc Committees, Special Bodies. Of these
organs this paper will only mention the two types of commissions : (1)
functional and (2) regional. Of these two types of commissions, only
functional commissions need concern us.
The functional commissions are (1) Economic and Employment (15
members), with sub-commissions on Employment, (7 members) on Econo-
mic Stability (7 members) and Economic Development (7 members); (2)
Transport and Communications (15 members); (3) Statistical (12 members-,
with sub-commissions on Statistical Sampling (5 members), and a Com-
mittee on Statistical Classification (8 members); (4) Human Rights (18
members), with sub-commissions on Freedom of the Press (12 members),
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (12 members);
(5) Social (18 members); (6) Status of Women (15 members); (7) Narcotic
Drugs (15 members); (8) Fiscal (15 members) and Population (12 members).
The programmes of the Functional Commissions are programmes of co-
operative learning and action. The actions they recommend are taken
by the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly. This
United Nations way of attacking problems by means of co-operative
learning and action is also the method of the Caribbean Commission.
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND FUNCTIONAL EDUCATION:
And now a word about the nature of economic, political and func-
tional education, In a programme of functional education, initiation into
the economic, social and political life of adults is linked with the social
functions devolving upon top and middle management men in industry
and commerce; the representatives of the industrial and agricultural
workers, the secretaries of Trade Unions, central and Local Government
officers, and so on. Education is then centred on training for well-defined
responsibilities, education, before becoming general, is functional.
The aim of the Department of Extra-Mural Studies is to discover and
satisfy the educational interest of adults. The Department has discovered
a need for Adult Education in this group of social sciences in all the
Islands, the Windward Islands, Jamaica and Trinidad). In the present
calendar year two programmes of functional education have been prov-
ided by the University College in British Guiana : (1) a course in Public
Administration for 55 Government and business employees at Easter; (2)
a training course in Trade Union work for 46 Trade Union officials in
Economic, Social and Political education enables the adult to see his
work in its true perspective, to understand the organisation of society and
to choose or orientate his civic activities. In emphasising the need for this
type of education, adult educators have now adopted new expressions -
economic literacy, social literacy and political literacy.
THE NEED FOR MORE ACTIVE METHODS OF ADULT EDUCATION
IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES:
Research for more active methods in this economic, social, political
and functional education is now regarded as indispensable by leading adult
educators. The experience of social or Trade Union Circles in the United
Kingdom, in the United States, in France and in other advanced countries
has shown that economic and social instruction, even when linked with
the training for a social function, often produces men who are cleverer
at repeating formulas and handling ideas that at analysing a situation or
at distinguishing what is true and what is false.
Therefore, exercises in observation and analysis tend to become more
frequent as an introduction to political economy, and the survey is the
means which is being more and more often employed. The laws of poli-
tical economy are made known by discussions on salaries, the market and
rents, or by visits to workshops, post offices, factories, and so on. When,
as in the recent actions of the British Guiana Trade Union Council and'
the British Guiana Civil Service Association, the active method of the
survey and analysis is adopted in economic, social and political education,
as the principal means of education, adults are not given formal lectures.
They themselves carry out surveys in their own environments; they
acquire a method of observation and explanation; they learn how to use
technical literature for the preparation of surveys and how to express
the results of research work; they become acquainted with a method of
introduction to the various social and human sciences by starting from
observation of everyday life, and acquire a general training which makes
the study of environment part of their everyday life.
Opening of Christian Social Council week of discussion, the Arch-
bishop of the West Indies said that the world needs a Christian revolu-
tion since it is so upside down. This then is the motivation for the Week
of Discussion. The purposes of the Week of Discussion which grow out
of this motivation, emerge from the stream of experience of life in British
Guiana and in the world by way of certain problems which adults are
unable to solve without help through educational experience.
THE STUDY GROUP:
The form of educational experience which the Christian Social Coun-
cil has arranged, is the Study Group. General intellectual education tends
to dispense more and more with the teaching of branches of learning,
and takes place more and more in study groups relating to everyday
problems. Certainly, references to History, Sociology and Literature are
not lacking, but they are made afterwards to illustrate positive questions
raised by each participant. In this way, the members of each group
learn to raise a problem, to define it, to seek the why and the wherefore
(introduction to Philosophy), to distinguish its elements, to situate it in
time and in space (introduction to History and Geography), to explain
it (introduction to the sciences).
The study group method is often unreliable. It may give rise to
idle talk and create a confusion of ideas instead of elucidating the prob-
lem or stimulating interest. In the afore-mentioned programmes of the
Christian Social Council, the Trades Union Council and the Civil Service
Association and the current programme of adult education in the social
sciences of the University College of the West Indies, the Study Group
approach is adopted as being essentially an exercise in the art of thinking
and of expressing one's self. Exercises in the art of thinking aim at
developing to the highest degree the ability of every individual to think
and to express himself. They make the Study Group more effective.
Mental training has varied forms, which can arouse as passionate interest
as athletic training. What is the principle? To give each individual
confidence in his ability and to reveal to him the intellectual power which
he has in him and of which he is frequently unaware. The study group
method of mental training is far from perfect, but its development has
given the most encouraging results. It represents the advanced form of
a general tendency of intellectual adult education, with a view to a more
positive, a more effective training of the mind.
NOTE: Part II of this paper on active methods in economic, social
political and functional education of adults will describe the programmes
with which the University College will attempt to satisfy this need in
the academic year, September 1951 to August 1952.
Proposals for a Congress of Writers
There have been made tentative proposals to hold a Congress of
Writers in the British Caribbean, to take place during Holy Week 1952,
- viz., April 6 to April 11 with the purpose of discussing the prob-
lems of writers in this part of the world. Writers have been cordially
invited to give us their advice on its feasibility and an assurance of their
It was considered that a Congress of this nature would be most
practicable if it were held in Trinidad and operated under the blessing
and sponsorship of bodies such as the Caribbean Commission, UNESCO,
and the University College of the West Indies. Trinidad was provision-
ally considered because it enjoys all the advantages of being central and
on world routes; and it was felt that for the Congress to have a prac-
tical outcome in stimulating the production of literary work and there-
fore providing a stock of publications which convey the ethos of the
British Caribbean for UNESCO and University alike, it would be neces-
sary for these organizations to sponsor the Congress, give it financial aid,
and send personnel and technical organising assistance.
It is proposed that the major topics of the Congress should include-
(1) the cultural relationships existing between the British Caribbean
territories and their neighbours in the region.
(2) the technical disabilities facing the writer and his work in the
(3) the national tradition, the creative writer and the journalist.
Other ideas that have been mooted include the publication, in con-
nection with the Congress, possibly undertaken by the Pioneer Press in
Jamaica, of a West Indian anthology covering all possible aspects of the
history and culture of the region. Linked with this idea are the names
of such writers as W. Adolphe Roberts, Dr. Eric Williams and Philip
Sherlock as joint editors. The publication could include messages from
Dr. Bodet, the Director General of UNESCO, the President of the Inter-
national Pen Club, eminent writers of the British Commonwealth and
of the non-British Caribbean.
These so far are only proposals and will need advice and co-operation
before they can be translated into the reality of a Congress of Writers,
so the Editor and the Resident Tutor in British Guiana, would be grate-
ful if all interested would give them earnest consideration and comment
as early as possible on every aspect of these general proposals.
Over here where our islands
Puncture the leaden sea into a chain,
And our wish inconstant like the pilloried
Sun fatigued by clouds, here where pain
Is narcotic, blunt and dull, frenzied
We have hoped.
Not for the nurturing of a million
Varied wish or the relish of a lotus
Pleasure; not for the temporary brazen
Triumph the coin has taught or the sick
Culture which understands only the voice
Of duped builders.
Rather the ubiquitous call of the river
For the salt panting of the sea, rather
The proud turn of the leaf's neck
For the hot kiss of the sun and the weak
Reach of the hand for the strong grasp
Of the comrade.
For here we have loved
The wet mud clinging the hoemen's feet.
Here in the soil our blood is green and
In our wine the vine is parched with the
Heat of our hope ; yet untamed'is the spark
Of desire, strong in young strength.
Time reaches for the harp
Of history, and in the east dawn brings
Her dower of light and flings it to her
Husband day; glance in the west, the golden
Egg will break into myriad suns and people
Look at the land, the psalms,
Singing for our sons beyond the fever of the years;
Look at the trees, the prayers,
Curtseying before the sacred scribbling of the wind,
And the clouds the white precipitate of the sky
Like incense on the altar.
After the flood, lightning,
And no dove, no olive leaf.
The raven of despair goeth forth without returning.
After blood, after the march,
Sacrifice and the burnt offering, yet where is Moses ?
Lost in the mist, gone,
Lost in the cloud on the mount.
Let us break from our faith, build us a calf to lead us on.
Here is no hope now,
Here are all bleak faces,
Here all dreams are cracked in the ground under the sun,
Here all heart runs purple in rivers under the rain.
But we have found out
All about mirages,
And in our seasons of drear no flash could fake us;
In our deserts of wandering, we expect no pools.
And this one who dared,
Who dared hope, suffers now,
Utters his last wish fainting, the Columbus cry:
"Give me my men but three days, give me time my masters".
....Wait! There are birds now bearing
The tall-tale bush, and on the sea
The token, the bough floating
Under the wet of waiting
May be ground, may be Ararat;
And some wait, not with knowing
Just beyond our trust, beyond
The edge of the dwindling acre
May be land, may be the fat land.
Few have faith.
Only time now while we wait on the wind
To find what only the sun and the wave
Knew and whispered about,
After doubt and drifting
Had broken our hearts.
E. McG. KEANE
Rhapsody on a Hill
Scan the cut
Of the jig-saw clouds
Repatterning the sky
Watch knuckled showers
Bruising the light into rainbow
Catch the sun
Making eyes at the sea
The wind running
Blindfold over the mountains
Catching its breadth
In the deep valleys......
God is a child
And today I celebrate him
For not least in ecstasy
This life I walk that knifes me
This sun I love that slays me
Beyond these green Ararats
Must breathe a dove
That does not need my sins
Nor search for
Perching on my callous limbs
For I am as young as heaven and Noah
With a new world to furnish
I will build beauty like bird
And the bird will write his wing
Against the sun
I will explain truth to the young sea
Sucking at the river's nipple
For here only I find
Mercy that has no mockery
And the sun intimate as a child's eye
What if here I dare kiss hands with time
Call God by his first name!
I have found God young and a fellow in these hills
And in this hour I do not bother with bleatings
My God the Father
I turn and sing
God the Child
For today I have walked
This nursery time
And I have stumbled upon
All the world's wheels and engines
... and someone came running to me
With the universe
Like a top spinning in his hands....
Buried Treasures "
By EUGENE BARTRUM
Hearing footsteps in the drawing room, David Johnson called out "Is
that you Marjorie?"
"Yes, darling. It is me," his wife answered, "Who else could it be?"
Her tone became wistful, "Aren't you back rather early to-day- Not ex-
pecting a visitor I hope."
Pushing the door of the bedroom open, she stopped in surprise to see
her husband seated cn th2 floor before an open cannister, in the imidst
of a pile of dust and old papers.
"What on earth are you doing?" she asked, "Looking fr.r your grand-
"Possibly, "David said smiling faintly" I'm glad you've come. Your
knowledge of Dutch may help me to find it easier."
"Find what, darling?" Marjorie asked "Scorpions or Tuberculosis.
Those two monsters usually hide themselves in dust and old papers. Didn't
your mother ever tell you so?"
"Marjorie, darling, please don't be funny. This is important. We
may be able to pay off the mortgage on our estate. We may even become
rich. If I succeed in finding this, it will be our first canter. Then we
start looking for the cannister. In that cannister lies our fortune."
He got up suddenly and took his wife in his arms "Then I'll be able to
give my charming little princess all that I always wanted to. Lovely
dresses, picnics all over the country, a beautiful house, a new car.
Why! we could "even think of that youngster we've been postponing."
He stopped and held her at arm's length "Say. You're stunning. By
damn! Isn't David Johnson married to the cutest little vixen any man
ever laid an eye upon."
He took her in his arms again and pecked her lightly on her lips,"
"Dangerous to take all in one gulp. Intoxication may set in."
Amused at her husband's unusual display of affection, Marjorie sat on
the edge of the bed and laughed "Not bad" she said "Not bad at all. Quite
refreshing. Already I feel intoxication setting in. What have you been
reading, Browning or Byron?"
David frowned slightly "Tchah Tchah" he muttered "Not on my life.
You know my aversion to such sentimentalists."
Opening a liquor cabinet, he took out a large bottle of wine and two
"My rice wine!" Marjorie accused "So that's it. You've been drink-
ing my rice wine."
"Sur2, my sweet 'David said "Before rummaging this haunt of scorp-
inns and tuberculosis, your poor husband needed a bracer. And here's a
secret. This stuff is darned good. Where did you get the recipe from?"
"My grandmother. She willed it to me," she grinned "But, darling, 1
you shouldn't have opened it. Not yet, at least. It was."
"Don't tell me," David interrupted "I know. It was for my birthday."
"Um hum" Marjorie modded, her colour rising.
"You're sweet" David said. "But as far as I can remember that silly
anniversary is about two weeks off and by then we'll have our cannister
He poured wine into the glasses and handing her one he said ."And
now, my princess, may we toast to our fortune?"
Marjorie took the wine and sipping it lightly, she asked "What's all
this crazy talk, David, about fortune and a cannister of gold. Don't tell
me you're serious?"
David's countenance fell "As you know, Marjorie, there's a heavy
mortgage on this place and the merchants are importing coffee from Brazil
which sells in the street for less than it costs us to produce our coffee. We
can't blame them. It's their business. Until to-day it seemed very probable
that we'd lose this estate."
"I know, darling "Marjorie said "And it is terrible that people in this
colony who put their best into productive industries should have such
heart rending odds to face. But, darling, we're young. And ......"
she smiled helpfully "That youngster, you spoke about just now is not
there yet. You'll get a job and we'll get by. If it comes to a push I could
get a job and we'll get by. If it comes to a push I could get a job myself.'1
"No. You wouldn't," David said "Not as as long as you're my wife.
And darling it is not only we who are involved. Most of the men on this
estate were born here. Their families were reared here. They know noth-
ing else but growing coffee. Preparing the soil for cultivation, planting
the seeds, nuturing the young plants, ridding them of pests, reaping
the berries and preparing the coffee for commercial use." He smiled and
sighed simultaneously "That has been their work and that has been their
play. They love it as much as I do. After my father died they taught
me the rudiments of the industry. They are faithful men and this place
is as much their's as mine. So, darling I could not even think of giving
up. And to-day oldJohan Vandenburrgh told me that there was a cannis-
ter of Dutch "Money buried somewhere in this estate."
Marjorie got up and put her arms around her husband's waist
"Please David" she said "What has gone over you? You've always hated
superstition and sentiment. You have always been so practical." There
was a twinkle in her eyes" So ruggedly practical. How could you ever
believe such superstitious nonsense. You know old Johan has a reputa- v
tion for his tall tales. If we're to believe all such stories, Dutch money
is buried in every backyard in British Guiana. It's an old old story,
dating back to when the British acquired this country from the Dutch. It
was said that those wily old Dutch men buried their treasure with the
hope that they would come back some day to re-claim it." She kissed him
"No David, it isn't like you. And isn't there some law or other
which says that such money belongs to the state. Whoever finds it is
bound to hand it cver to the Government."
She smiled wickedly "How could a sensible law abiding citizen like
my husband even think of breaking the law?"
"Yes" David said "All that is true "But, sweetheart, a law which
states that anything found on a man's own property does not belong to
him, does not sound reasonable. And. there are actually a few men in
British Guiana who found those -lusive cannisters and became rich with-
out the intervention of th- law. Old Johan's story did seem tall to me
at first, but when he told me about the papers my father had in this
cannister. I got wary. How did he know about these papers? He told
me that among these papers there would be documents written in Dutch
and one of them would be a plan showing where the money was buried.
I have found a few plans and some of them are written in Dutch. So old
Johan may be right after all. Would you mind checking on them for me?"
To satisfy her husband, Marjorie started going through the plans
After a long search she said "Seems as though that old devil has
spoken the truth for once. Here's your plan. And the directions state
very clearly that a cannister containing valuables is buried here." She
pointed to the spot on the age-worn bit of paper.
"Didn't I tell you!" David said "There seems to be no harm in making
a search if even I have to hand over my fortune to Government."
"Come to think of it" Marjorie said, "I think I'll help you search.
There seems to be something mysterious about these documents. Some-
thing which arouses my woman's curiosity. They are over a hundred
years old and written in perfect Holland Dutch."
For several days David and Marjorie dug deep into the ground
around a spreading short specie of cabbage palm which was mentioned
on the plan as marking the vicinity of the buried fortune. The broad
branches of the palm afforded them shelter when the sun was overbear-
ingly hot and under them they lazed when they were not digging.
Somehow, although so far their quest was unsuccessful, still they
found it comforting under this century old tree which seemed to evoke a
peculiar peaceful atmosphere.
"To think" David whispered in Marjorie's ear one day "That my great
grandfather may have courted my great grandmother under this very
"And ,our grandfather and father after them" Marjorie enjoined
"Yes, darling. There's a sacredness in the air here that is more beauti-
ful than I ever experienced. It seems to link us beautifully with the past.
I know now why you hate to lose this place. Somehow, I think you won't''
After a week Johan Vandenburgh intruded on their picnic. He
glanced at the work they had done and he said "Like yo' digging' fo'
Dutch Gole maas David, but ah don't tink you gon' fin' it so. Yo' gat
fo' mek a sacrifice fus'."
David exchanged glances with his wife. Both of them had over-
looked that important proviso of the legend of buried Dutch treasure."
"Ah blood sacrifice, "Johan continued "ah 'redy yo' stawt fo' distu'b
de peacefulness ah dem Dutch Jumbie, dat guardian' dis treasure. One ah
dem come an' tell me so in me dream laas' night. Dat's why ah come hey
fo' warn yo'."
"Look here, Johan," David said sternly "Everyone in the district
knows you are a confounded liar. You don't think you could scare either
my wife or myself with your yarns about Dutch jumbies and sacrifices. If
you know where this mysterio's cannister is hiden just, tell me and I'd
get it without any sacrifice."
"I'll give you a third of whatever it's worth, if it's worth anything a't
"Me! Maas' David," Johan said "Me gon' soon tu'n jumbie me'self. Mi
caan' spile me futah happiness. You dun say Johan lie, but Johan still tell
you how fo' look fo' dis treasure."
His bizarre laughter echoed eerily from the trunk of the cabbage
.You' bettah ca'ful whah you' say maas David. An' befo' yo' do any
mo' diging' you' bettah tink bout de sacrifice."
Saying that Johan tried to laugh again, but suddenly he became
short of breath and opened his mouth and gasped painfully.
David knew it was one of Johan's heart seizures and immediately he
had Marjorie were by his side.
They took him under the shade of the cabbage tree and when they
made him as comfortable as they could, David said "Marjorie, if you stay
with old Johan I'll go and fetch his mixture. I shan't be long."
There was a trace of anger in David's voice, but Johan said feebly,
"No, maas David Don't go. Ah don't need de mixture now. Ah gon' be
allrigrt jes now. Don' go ah wan' to tell yo' something "
He stopped gasping and smiled with that old air of mystery so fami-
liar to him.
"De gole yo' looking' fo' maas David ain' dey hey no' mo' it moove out.
I moove it, not because ah want it maas David, but because it won't do
yo' no good 'till yo' get mo' sense. If you' pramise to tek me advice an'
stap usin' dis high class manure pan de caffee. Res' de lan' maas David,
res' it ah tell yo' an if you don' wan' to clear de whole estate clear hawf
ah it an' plant yam an' eddah an' cassava. Me tell yo' so always but yo'
nah wan' fo' hayre. Oh Gawd boy if yo' nah hayre me yo' go laas dis
Johan stopped and gasped a bit and he continued more feebly "Do
dat maas David plant eddah n' yam. Stawt right now pon dis lan' whah
yo' fawk up hey."
He looked imploringly at David then he smiled weakly with Marjorie
and closed his eyes.
"Dear, dear old Johan, "Marjorie said as David folded his hands
kno' Johan nah kno', only Gawd kno'............
A peaceful smile displaced the mystery of the old farmer's face.
"Dear, dear old Johan, "Marjorie said as David folded his hands
across his chest.
After Johan's funeral Marjorie said, "David, don't you think old
Johan's advice worth trying.
"I don't know, "David knit his brows" and even if it "was, where
would I get the money to pay the men while the estate was cleared and,
besides, if the interest on the mortgage isn't paid within a few months
they'd forcelose. They told me that."
He let his hands fall to his side, in utter dejectment.
"Oh, Marjorie, it's all my fault. Not only Johan but several of the
other advised me, but I was so headstrong. It's too late now."
Marjorie took a large envelope from her bosom.
"No, David," she said "It isn't, dear old Johan has left us enough
here to pay the interest on the mortgage and all other expenses on the
estate for two years. Mr. Watt's the solicitor sent for me this morning
and gave me this. It's Johan's will."
After a year of David's new method of coffee cultivation the John-
son's coffee estate produced twice as much coffee as it ever produced in
"Darling", David said to his wife "we've found that treasure. By
the end of the next two years it seem as if our estate will be free of
"Darling", Marjorie whispered in his ear "Mummy has news too.
That elusive youngster is on his way."
"Why didn't you tell me before?" David asked in assumed anger.
"Because, "Marjorie said with a knowing smile, "I didn't know
whether daddy could afford such news."
A Note on Thomas Mann
By A. J. SEYMOUR
One of the fascinations of being alive at the same time that a
profound writer is putting his pen to paper, is that one is perpetually
seeking self discovery in his pages and relying on him to put the mirror
up to the world so that one can see the times in his wiser and all-
compelling perspective. He writes for all time, and his work, by a
magic of style and personality is contemporary not only with every
reader, but he also reveals to themselves the readers of his own age.
Some of the question marks that surround a great work of art lead us
to ask "to what degree has a particular novel unity ? How great is
the complexity of parts and elements which that unity embraces and
organises ? Does it create a new world where the drowsy everyday
gives place to an intense wakefulness, with the imagination glowing and
filled, and the emotions stirred ?"
Judged by these or any other standards, Thomas Mann is one of the
greatest of living novelists and as Yeats would put it, he will "sit down
;'t Journey's end" with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and Cervantes and
Proust. Like them, he has tremendous breadth of vision and it is safe
to say that his four Joseph books, "Joseph and His Brethren", "The
Young Joseph", "Joseph in Egypt" and "Joseph the Provider" have
taken their place beside the Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, Don
Quixote, and the Remembrance of Things Past, as one of the great
novels of the world. It is an achievement to take out of the Old
Testament, a score of pages which tell a story that is part of the Christian
heritage and with patient scholarship, immense psychological insight
and'narrative skill to compose the tetralogy of the Joseph books, some
2,000 pages long. Having read them, one is unlikely ever to forget the
opening of the first book with its analysis of time and the cycles of
nature; or the description of Joseph's state of mind when he was in
the pit; or that Prelude in the Upper Circles which opens the last
volume: where up in heaven the great Shemmael, rather delicately
upbraids the Throne of nepotism to this favourite of his, now in an
Egyptian prison; or the illuminating discussion, between Pharoah and
Joseph in the Cretan loggia, on the one God whom Pharoah described,
upon Joseph's gentle prompting, not as Aton, but rather th Lord oA
the Aton, who is not in the world at all but in heaven to have
read these passages is to have permanently enriched oneself.
As a reader, however, I have been both fascinated and repelled by
two other books from this great writer, "The Magic Mountain" which
is a novel that contains a summary of the knowledge of the modern
sciences, and that account of the life story of a great creative musician,
"Doctor Faustus". I can trace my disturbance in the "Magic Mountain"
to a particular sentence where it dawns on Hans Castorp, lying on his
back in the Tuberculosis Sanatorium, high up in the Swiss mountains,
and reading in that mentally stimulating atmosphere, books which bring
home to his hitherto unawakened mind the range of biological and
chemical processes. And on Hans Castorp it dawns that life is a fever
The ideas which feed the mind of Hans Castorp as he reads, as he
listens to the brilliant conversation of his friends, and experiences, like
Prometheus bound, strange floodtides of emotion become in effect a
summary of the resources and achievements of the modern world, in
so far as they can pass into the minds of man. But this sentence persists
with its overtones of civilisation being a disease, and the effect is rein-
forced by small incidents such as the emphasis placed upon the glass dia-
positive of Claudia Chauchat s X-ray portrait; and the harrowing seance
where the cousin of Hans Castorp is summoned from the dead, arid not
even the brilliant talk of the philosophers Settembrini and Naphta, can
conjure it away, nor the strange end, where we are shown the former
patient, now a German soldier, running through the exploding shells of
the 1914 war, his bayonet swinging in his hand.
Doctor Faustus disturbs, in somewhat the same way, but more
deeply. The great creative musician Adrian Leverkuhn has sold his
soul to the devil for 24 years of musical genius and incessantly welling
composition, but this restatement of the Faust legend has at its physical
base a venereal infection contracted in a most unusual manner. Like 'the
Inferno of Dante, the novels of Thomas Mann always have a succession
of structural depths and in Doctor Faustus, one is stirred to the con-
sciousness that perhaps one type of genius is the result and even the
fruit of an arrested physical corruption.
Mann is, retelling the Faust legend in the modern manner and so the
devil closes his bargain with a paralytic stroke that wipes away from
the brain of this fertile composer the 24 years of genius that had been
his, and returns him to his aged mother as an old man who is a child
in his fears and who must sit hand in hand with his mother, for the
soothing of her presence. Mann here captures the essence of the allegory
for us, as we remember the dark pride of the composer who chose
theology, the highest study of all, out of a condescending facility and as
a means of showing to himself and to all, the ease with which his mind
could master its abstruse arguments, and then forsook it for his music,
one is tempted to murmur "This is how God punishes for sins of pride."
The novel abounds in reflections of the deepest insight on the nature
of art in general and music in particular, and as in the other novels, the
author crowds his canvas with a profusion of characters, all alive and
in the round and tells his story with the deliberate suspense to which
readers of Mann are accustomed.
This inadequate note on two of the novels of Thomas Mann is pre-
sented here in order that I may introduce the question "can these works
be put among the really great novels, as willingly as one would put
the Joseph books?" The Iliad of Homer, the Inferno, and to take novels
themselves the Joseph books, War and Peace, and the Brothers Kara-
mazov are books that help readers to turn back to life, refreshed, spiritu-
ally strengthened and willing once more to battle against-material things
Dawn of the Future
By PRASAD SUKHNANDAN
The fleecy flecked clouds grew into a golden shimmer as the sun
rose out across the Atlantic, flooding the Suddie Beach with its gleam-
ing rays. A young man but barely twenty-two sat enraptured by this
spectacle. He seemed lost in deep reverie, for he did not hear the two
women talking loudly as they walked along.
"Eh'. Eh! gal Effie is who dah?"
"You don' know dah is Tim Robinson de magistrate clark son."
"Is wah he doin' deh so early looking' at de sky, deh 'ent no stars
foh he count now."
"Like you nevva heard dat he in love wid Grace Magnus nuh ?"
"Well fuh make a lang story shart leh me tell you. De two of dem
grow up to-geddah from lil-boy days, deh went to Sea View School
and uses to go home every day by de beach, 'till dem lef and went to
high school in town, 'till deh fall in love wid one annadah. Mean time
Tim fadah a Civil Sarvant wid big name and lil salary, got lef behind'
by Grace fadah. Mistah Magnus business expan', he got plenty store
and moto car. Well he still uses to mek love rite web you see he sitting'
down, 'till she fada gie she a car an' den she start foh play a different'
tune. She start gwine out wid dem adah big shat son, to dance an'
ting, den bam! she get engage to Harry Simon de Diamon' merchant
son, and lef Tim weh he deh."
"Well ah tell you wah, money does get up in some people head.
"Yuh rite gal Fan-fan."
Tim Robinson never heard that part of his life story. Even then
he was thinking of Grace Magnus, planning to make her come back
to him. He thought of many plans. Of taking a course in accountancy,
but that would hardly interest her now. "Flick", went his fingers. "I've
got it", he said aloud to himself. "I'll open a Commercial Agency, the.
first of its kind on the Coast." Yet the $1,500 he had saved from his
salary as a Clerk in the District Administration Office could do very
As the months went by he gaye it serious thought, and set about
studying the markets, demand and supply, and possible Agencies. It was
at Christmas that he decided to resign and get his Agency on foot. His
first venture in dry goods, mainly woolens, silks, and cotton piece goods
gradually blossomed out successfully. By the end of the year he
had covered the coast and made customers all along. His honesty and
square dealing brought him worthy returns. He was able to take over
an Agency for Radios offered him. Grace Magnus had by then found
Harry Simon 'Too boyish', and broke off her engagement, but she showed
no signs of renewing her old love.
John Magnus sat in his spring-filled Morris, puffing at a Churchil-
lian cigar, scanning the morning papers. "Mmmm!" he murmured as
Grace was coming downstairs. "Hello! little one, have you noticed that
young Robinson, quite a lot of push in him. That boy has a sense of
business. "Coming from you Dad I could believe it, but after all he
must work to earn a livelihood. I am driving out to Hampton Court,
the Mc Turks are throwing a party this evening. Bye-bye."
Tim Robinson lived in that haze of happiness known to the ardent
worker. He could be seen every morning at sunrise at his Sanctum
on the Suddie beach, and at sunset. It was as if he came to welcome
the dawn of day and see the shadow of night steal across the ocean.
Tim had just acquired an agency for small cars, of good mileage,
and low cost to meet the demand for cheaper transportation. It was
then that he found himself in direct competition with Magnus Co-opera-
tion. His cars took the market from the first week of their arrival.
His business was posing a problem to John Magnus. Robinson Agencies
Ltd., now had its head office in Georgetown. Tim Robinson had made
his name, but to what avail. He had not succeeded in interesting Grace
in the least.
"A letter for you Sir," said the servant handing it over. "Thank
you," said Tim looking wistfully at the neat characters on the shell-
blue envelope. It was from Grace. He read her invitation to her birth-
day party on the 22nd instant. His eyes contracted for a second, "no!"
he said aloud. Grace received Tim's note regretting his inability to
attend. Robinson Agencies Ltd., now meant something, and at year ena
breasted the tape with Magnus Co-operation for best business. John
Magnus called a hurried meeting of his Directors and planned the com-
ing year's policy, and they all agreed to an all-out campaign against
Robinson Agencies Ltd.
Tim Robinson's name was never mentioned in the Magnus home.
Tim, now master of the situation, spent his holidays wrapt in thought.
He smoked a pipe and listened to the waves scurrying up and down
the beach. Grace Magnus had ceased to worry him, and the love of
his childhood days seemed dead.
Then came a slump in the markets, prices skied, and his success
trembled under its blow. He called in all his bonds, reduced his long
term orders, and felt his way in all his investments. Fate mocked at
Magnus Co-operation. Tied up with a contract to purchase American
cars, Magnus Co-operation profits dwindled. They were hard hit and one
by one the shutters of their doors went up. John Magnus not wanting
to invest from his reserves wisely announced his retirement and sold
out. Grace had had another short-lived engagement, for the dandy this
time thought it best to elope with her bosom friend.
"Hello! Hello! Tim, called his father coming up the driveway. How
are you, still making the money eh?" "Hello! dad come in."
Father and son sat to a trolley of refreshments just rolled in by the
servant. "Well, no answer to that money question?"
"Sure Dad, you know I am."
"What about the future-your future son. Haven't you seen the fa 1
"This is a surprise, really I haven't given her much thought lately."
"And why not?"
"Don't tell me you're still sore about that Magnus incident?"
"Oh! no Pop, but just yet I don't feel that way."
"I see. Well to your continued success.
It was but a few days from another of Grace's birthdays and she was
preparing her invitations. When she came to Tim Robinson's name on
her list she drew a line through it.
Tim's grey sedan sped along the road. As he slowed up to cross
the Taymouth Manor bridge, he saw a car, bonnet-down the parapet.
As he neared he could hear the accelerated motor going. He pulled up
aside, jumped out and went over to the car. Addressing the driver with,
"Good evening, can I help?" then in the half-light recognizing Grac?
Magnus, said "Good evening Miss Magnus". Her reply was tart. "No
thank you." She dug her foot on the accelerator. With a second's
decision he jumped on to the rear bumper, and with a lurch the car
jerked up the parapet. He jumped off as the car did not stop, and for
a moment watched the fading rear lights. With a shrug of his shoulders
he got into his car and drove on.
It was Monday morning, the sun was but a red halo on the distant
horizon. Tim at his favourite rendezvous awaited the dawning day. His
thoughts running over the event of two days ago. "Good morning Mr.
Robinson," a pleasant voice greeted him. Looking up he saw Grace
Magnus, as she continued, "May I have a few words with you?" "Good
morning," he replied somewhat shakily. "Of course you could." "It was
nice of you to help me so kindly last Saturday. I would have been
stuck on the mud for goodness knows how long. It was you who really
solved the problem." "Not at all. It was only by accident that I thought
of jumping on the bumper." "Still, thank you, I'm sorry I was so short."
His gaze returned to the horizon, but she did not move.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" she said as the sun peeped out, and its first
rays splashed across the waves. "Yes, it is", he said, slowly getting
up. Their eyes met for a moment as if seeking to find in their depths
that flame that was theirs. "Good morning Miss Magnus", he said. "It
was nice of you to come." But there was reluctance in the way he
As if prompted by some ultra force Grace ran up to him, and
touched his sleeve. "Tim! Tim!" He turned around and looked at her
again, and before he could decide what to do or say, she was in h:s
arms. He found them pressing her closer to him. "Oh Grace! Why
did you keep me waiting so long." "I never knew how much it meant
until Saturday gone," she whispered almost inaudibly. "We both have
waited so long." The sun's rays felt its way between her curly hair.
Their engagement and subsequent marriage was announced at the begin-
ning and end of her birthday party that evening.
Worm's Eye View"
This play was produced in September by the Linden Players of Ber-
bice, in the new Y.W.C.A. Hall, Brickdam. Those who had seen the
Linden Players in action when they gave their memorable performances
of "Ars-nic and Old Lace", in 1948, anticipated an excellent production,
and tridly they were not disappointed.
Written by R. F. Delderfield, the play is clearly intended for British
audiences, with its cockney phrases, such as "plates of meat" for feet, i's
reference to the Englishman's love of gardening, the black market in
scarce goods, and the Button B on the telephone call box, which duly
yielded its store of coppers to the enterprising Porter.
It appears disarmingly simple in construction and dialogue, yet it
achieves its purpose of exposing the resentful and unfriendly attitude of
a section of the British to servicemen billeted in their homes.
R.A.F. men have been billeted in the home of Mrs. Bounty, whose
pretentious son, Sydney Spooner, on being appointed assistant to the Town
Clerk had promptly made his stepfather, Mr. Bounty, relinquish his job
as Sanitary Inspector of the town drains. Sydney is the apple of Mrs.
Bounty's eye, so his least word is law to her. He decrees that there shall
be no sociability between the family and the R.A.F. men. So Mrs. Bounty's
daughter, Bella Bounty, is charged never to speak to them, but to devote
herself to practising her singing with ,a view to becoming a concert per-
former. Mrs. Bounty only addresses the men to lay down the law or to
So long as Pop, a veteran of the first world war, the "affair" hunting
Duke, and sober, intellectual Mark are alone in the house, life is very
humdrum for them. But when they are joined by the Cockney, Porter,
and the Welshman, Taffy, things begin to hum, gingered up by Porter.
ae opens the locked piano with a hairpin, gets the gas fire going with a
filed two franc piece, which he regularly recovers from the meter for
further use. He is wholeheartedly in the black market trade, and is an
expert at cleaning windows with a little spit and at scrounging extra
nourishment from Thelma, the maid.
Bella is tempted into the sitting room by the sound of the piano and
the singing of the men. She and Mark shyly become companions and
with Pop's understanding help their romance ends happily, after a fight
between Mark and the pompous Sydney.
The Linden Players acquitted themselves with credit in this play.
Each one knew the lines of his or her part, and delivered them with good
timing and expression.
Their actions and facial expressions, their movements and positions
had been well rehearsed, and appeared quite natural and spontaneous in
As Pop, Gerald Wood gave a fine characterisation. His every word,
glance and action were entirely in keeping with the part.
Alan Bywater, as Mr. Bounty, made a excellent character study of
the husband who rebels at long last, and becomes top dog in the end.
Donald Branston had a small part as Squadron Leader Briarley, but
what a fine performance he turned in.
As the Cockney, Porter, Robert Gray had a part to revel in, and that
is just what he did. He had the audience convulsed time and time again.
Keith Hart as the Duke of the many "affairs" with the ladies, Edward
Butler as the scholarly Mark, and Lawson Hunter as the Welsh Taffy,
each gave a good rendering of his part.
Jack Larkin as the pretentious Sydney had the correct attitude and
diction but was a bit inclined to aimless movement at times.
The three actresses did not display the same poise as the actors, no
doubt due to lack of stage experience.
Jean Gordon gave a creditable impression as a shy, inexperienced
girl, very difficult to convince that MVark's attentions were entirely sincere.
Nora McLean, as Mrs. Bounty, had a shrewish part, which she en-
deavoured to portray wholeheartedly.
Barbara Dimblebee made a lively malid, Thelma-
The stage setting was very good indeed. It showed a living room
with a moveable window, a staircase to an upper storey, a hafl entrance
and a fireplace with a: gas fire which came alight.
The Linden Players had done it. again, or rather, as there was only
one member of the cast who had appeared in "Arsenic and Old Lace", the
producer, Mr. Arnold, had done it again,-had brought a well-prepared
play to entertain Georgetown-We hope their next production will comrn
to town at a shorter interval than three years-
- SARA VEECOCK.
The Kokers of Alvin Bowman
I met Alvin Bowman in one of those unconventional ways which
people always associate with artists. I was cycling back to work one
midday in the hot sun, along Robb Street, when someone drew up along-
side and rode with me. Would I come and see his paintings, he said, His
name was Bowman. Of course I would, and before we had gone two city
blocks, we fixed the date, time and place to see his work.
I work in words myself, the interminable struggle with rhythm, and
meaning and rhetoric, !but the problem of wrestling with a medium of
expression until it yields like the angel in the Jacob story and allows
expression to the general personality of the artist ,and his particular vision
of the moment, that is true of all the arts. So my interest kindled. I
srw a few of the smaller pieces first, one was a painting in oil showing
a Portuguese boy asleep on the pavement. You know, I am more partial
to large landscapes where every prospect pleases and even the human
elements of cottage and working farmi-r are proportioned into their proper
relations as parts of nature. But I liked the way the masses of colour
were arranged, and the sleeping boy in the painting. Then there was a
little water-colour showing a koker at Pln. Ogle with which I literally
fell in love.
After that, of a sudden I noticed that Bowman had a special feeling
for kokers. There were four or five large paintings of these watergates,
looking for all the world like French guillotines, the sluices that we have
in Guiana, as part of our heritage from the Dutch who lived and toiled
here centuries ago. All the historical associations rose in me as I looked
and so I turned and asked Bowman-do you like kokers?
Bowman told me that whenever he saw a koker, it gave him the
desire to paint it. Well, he has certainly created a massiv- beauty and
brought out the power of the concrete in the paintings he has done. You
know they say that the Egyptians had a love for the monumental in art,
with their pyramids; well, it seems that Bowman has something of the
Egyptian in him and has painted the Fish koker at Albouystown, the
Kingston koker, .and the koker at Meadow Bank. All except one, are in
the sunlight, and this oddfellow shows a koker in the romantic light of
the moon. What is interesting to me is the way Bowman seems to have
discovered himself in the Guianese symbol of protection against flood and
drought, almost a national symbol where we are concerned.
"If You Remember, Dearie,
(Then You're Much Older Than I)
Do you remember when the cat's whiskers was the plural of wireless
sets and not a term of high praise? If you do, you probably think that
radio programmes have changed a lot since then. The surprising thing
is that they haven't.
Of course, there have been vast technical improvements and ever
so often we do get something new on the radio. Yet, in the very begin-
ning years of broadcasting your clumsy manipulating of earphones and
volume controls would have brought you just these:-
The kiddies hour (with uncle Charlie and uncle Johnny instead of uncle
Vivian and uncle Ulric,) reading out lists of birthday names ...... Olga
Lopes (radio sweetheart of 1935)........ Randolph Proffit on Boookers
Drug store programme........the news.
The only thing that seems to have changed is the dance music.
Dance bands were a prominent radio feature from the word "go", and
they still are. But, somehow, the change in style and tempo, in personali-
ties and presentation, gives the strongest indication of how radio enter-
tainment has progressed. "Do you remember" one of the first dance bands
to broadcast? No, it wasn't the Luckies, the Syncopators or the Rhythm-
Stompers. It was the "Fleischman's Hit Parade" orchestra directed by
bandleader S. W. Henwood. The year was 1936 and the hit tune was
"Little old lady".
1937........ the year when the "Girl Pat" and her sensational voyage
made big news. "Do you remember" red sails in the sunset? and "do
you remember" what radio programmes made good listening that year?
Fleischman's Hit parade........ under the Baton of bandmaster Henwood,
with Olga Lopes (British Guiana's mistress of Sentimental songs). Bookers
Drug Store Orchestra led by Bert Rogers........Co-operative Motor Sales
Pageant of Youth........The Meat Company's Hit Parade........The
Empire Bar's programme...... The musical programme of the house of
Fogarty and the Crown Rum programme.
"Do you remember" the big names of 1938 and 1939? remember the
Duchess? (Winifred Woolford)...... Mrs. Dorthy Taitt (leader and
organiser of the Woodtbiners Club)........Gwen Kellman, Iris Grimes,
Thelma Rego, Serena Callender, Angela Martins, Randolph Proffit, and
Phillip Waddell? Popular radio announcers were........Tommy Wheat-
ing, Ulric Gouveia and Uncle Johnny. The hit tune of that year was
"I've got a pocketful of dreams" remember?
1940........ and with world war II came a few changes. Programme
directors began to make greater use of gramophone records; thereby
producing a greater variety of programmes. That was the year that
Jack Cashmir introduced his "Music Lovers" orchestra and the Harry
Mayers orchestra and the Washboards were THE bands. Popular re-
corded dance music during the war years was by Vincent Lopez, Artie
Shaw, and Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey. The songs of the war
years "I'll -be seeing you"....... ."When the lights go on again"........
"Only and forever"........ "A lovely way to spend an evening" and
"White Christmas", were plugged, played and well aired. And' do you
know what one of the hit tunes of 1951 is? "DEARIE, DO YOU
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The England of Elizabeth
by A. L. ROWSE
Raw material for the Elizabethan genius that, in short, is the
substance of this first volume of a pair in which Mr. Rowse analyses
the structure of the vigorous Society of 5 million people who owned
Elizabeth as Queen. In the second volume, he will deal with the
Elizabethan achievement. Patiently, layer by layer, throughout his 550
pages, Rowse builds up his picture. First, there is the land and the
steady growth of farming improvement as a conscious aim; there is the
economic advance under Eurghley's husbandry, taking advantage of the
rise in Western European prices, a rise based on the importation of
treasure from the Spanish mines in America; there is the enrichment
of the upper classes, and the rise of the gentry and the impulse given
to art and architecture. Integrated in this agrarian community, are
the towns and London, "the flower of towns all" where the great
companies regulate the industrial and trading life of the nation. Crafts-
men are being encouraged to bring their skills from an impoverished
Europe, under the Queen's watchful eye, the lands released by the
dissolution of the monasteries are being bought up by the lawyers.
The Queen, in Rowse's phrase, (he claims she was one of the best
educated persons in the country) "attuned to passive, defensive, insinu-
ating action..... was more fitted for her position and time than any
other monarch in our history". In these pages she plays off the opposing
elements in the Privy Council and nurses the growing powers of Parlia-
ment. The law, with its common law vitality reflects the vitality of
the people, the church goes in the middle of the road between Papist
and Puritan and gives a rule of life to the country and education
provides the dynamic for the society to meet the demands of the times.
That is the book in little, but Rowse expresses the vitality and
confusion of the age in the jostling events chronicled in his sentences.
He is concerned "with the difference in the slow working out of free
institutions and the negative constitutional safeguards of liberties
between England and the rest of Europe......England was small enough
to be governable". Rowse tells us that he is looking for "the life
beneath the documents and forgoes the indulgence of contemporary
political prejudice in the form of moral indignations". However, every
now and then, the indignation and the prejudice find expression and
always the national pride shines through the pages.
To one who is not a historian and who cannot therefore check the
minutiae of scholarship, but who is always seeking to relate the Society
background to the triumphs of individual art and intellect, there can
be only a suspended judgment, to be resolved when the second volume
brings its complement of achievement in action and the life of the
mind to this background study. This much can however be said.
Richard Livingstone has put us all in his debt with that initial push-off
in Magpie Lane when he suggested to Rowse that he should attempt
a portrait of the Elizabethan Age.
There is one further point. A West Indian reviewer reading the
volume, as an outsider reads another people's story, and alive to the
social and political ferment of his own region, cannot but be struck
by the innumerable lessons his region may learn from this analysis of
the expansion of a vigorous community. The lessons rise to the sur-
face like dolphins playing around a voyaging ship. There is for instance,
the benefit England derived from immigration with the consequent
importation of skills against the natural antagonism of the local crafts-
men. There is the encouragement of enterprise by freedom from exces-
sive regulation and by fixing rent (of coal mines) enticingly low. There
is the appreciation that the foundation of industrial development lay
in cheap power. There is the readiness of the merchants and the gentry
and the landowners to invest and speculate, and the passion to learn
new arts. There is the growth of capital (based on advantageous trade
transactions) which is then invested in industry, there are the large
amounts of new land made available iby the dissolution of the monasteries,
the ceaseless voyaging with new markets in mind, the discouragement of
non-productive consumption (West Indies, please note) the spread of
population increase in a diversified economy, the keen competition for
survival in every social class and the instinctive consolidation of prop-
erty holdings. It is mainly because the yeomen of England thrived
that England thrived.
There are many lessons to be taken to heart by a West Indian
reveiwer, but the most important is probably that of the fundamental
identification of the middle classes with the country and the nation's
prosperity. Rowse makes it appear that a creative majority lived in
England in this Age and that they were found in all social strata. One
of the greatest of Elizabethans has described it as "this happy breed
of men, this little world, this land of such dear souls".
West Indies, please note.-A.J.S.
bh KONA WARUK (WILSON HARRIS)
The poetry of Wilson Harris finds its first booklet publication in No. 3
of the Miniature Poets "Fetish", over the pen name of Kona Waruk.
Wilson Harris's booklet is the September issue, of poetry published
under the auspices of the British Guiana Writers' Association, follows
my own "Leaves from the Tree" (July) and J. W. Harper Smith's
The title "Fetish" is important as the poet believes that modern litera- <
ture suffers from certain false .beliefs and that many people today possess
the psychology of magic worshippers. This artificial system of attitudes
and conventions is one which the poet feels should be broken. The pen
name is significant also. Kona Waruk is the Amerindian name of ae river
in Guiana and is used here as a symbol that in the Americas, the Amer-
indians have made a nameless and sometimes neglected contribution to our
civilisation just as centuries ago the craftsmen and cathedral builders
of the Middle Ages made their anonymous contribution to the beauty and
history of Europe.
The poems themselves seem like a restless, seething sea where every
now and then a vivid and unusual image breaks surface and then sub-
merges again. Herbert Read will say that a poem has a meaning of its
own and that is not necessarily a logical meaning: so long as the reader
is conscious of the way in which his emotions are affected the process of
"meaning" is taking place at an infra-logical level. Images occur like
"Beneath the footfall of a tiger the feet of a hungry boy pacing
walls or pavements of destruction"
"The world slowly tumbles shadow of other crucifixions upon
domestic beauty as if to ask an intimate question of a poodle."
The poem "These are the words of an Old Man" is the simplest in the
book, with its message against our "travesty of civilisation" that "it is
better to be homeless tonight", but in all the others, one can see a pessi-
mistic outlook where the poet can say that "the image of beauty is the
torture and mechanism of the soul. The needle of pain records voices."
Some passages are savage and bitter. One poem carries at its beginning
a quotation from Ezra Pound, that poet of broken mirrors, but there is
also the desire of the poet to find a new world and a new point of view.
It is significant that the figures which pass through this flux of emotions
are those of Lazarus and Orpheus (both from the world of the dead),
Ulysses going home, and Columbus.
Some of the overtones may resemble those of an Old Testament
prophet and perhaps the mood may be funereal to some, especially as
we live in our young Caribbean situation, but this is a voice to listen to,
although one cannot predict how the poet will develop, and these are
poems to be read and re-read.
"The Caribbean at Mid-Century"
A. Curtis Wilgus
(University of Florida Press)
The University of Florida held its first annual Conference on the
Caribbean, on December 7 to December 9, 1950, and reviewed the first
half of the 20th century. Both roll call and agenda were impressive.
Present were Edward G. Miller, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-
American affairs and six other U.S. Government Officials, forty-four
delegates from U.S. universities, nine from Latin American Republics
and U.S. possessions, three Latin American Consuls and nine representa-
tives of various institutions. Conference addresses included Edward G.
Miller's Survey of Inter-American Relations and papers by experts on
the problems of the Caribbean area, which was defined as "Mexico, Cen-
tral America, Colombia, Venezuela, the Island Republics, and other parts
of the West Indies".
This reviewer read first the four papers on the language and liter-
ature of the area Literary Homogeneity, an interpretation of society
through Literature, Literary Themes, in the past fifty years, Magic in
the Caribbean--but he went back to the problems set up in economics
and geography, agriculture, sociology and anthropology, and politics and
history. Concerned as he has been with the comparatively small com-
pass of the British West Indies he felt like some watcher of the skies
when a new planet swims within his ken. This was a view of the Carib-
bean habitual to America, because of ties of trade and diplomacy. Here
was a discussion on the question "Is there a modern Caribbean culture",
parting the region into the Latin American and Caribbean African Cul-
tural types. Here is a sentence which reads "Columbus began the liter-
ature of the Caribbean in 1493 when he sent back to Spain his famous
letter on the discovery "It is a land to be desired" he said "and once
seen never to be abandoned...."
The reviewer's reflection as he read the last pages was "The British
West Indies are now stirring into full watchfulness but we must know
how we fit into the larger pattern of the Caribbean. We must know a
lot more about our neighbours".
A. J. S.
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