Children & Values in a
A Woman's View Mildred Mansfield, Stella Merriman,
Cecile Nobrega, Glenns Tisahaw,
Winifred McDavid, Audrey Chase,
G.M.C., Violet Graham.
ASPEN & THE AMERICAN ETHOS A. J. Seymour
CONVERSATIONS (Poems) Martin Carter.
SPIRIT OF THE SEA WALL Wilson Harris.
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A. J. SEYMOUR
Vol. 9 No. 28
Aspen & the American Ethos..
Children and Values in a
Changing Society (a
symposium of views)-
A.J.S., Winifred McDavid,
Mildred Mansfield, Audrey
Chase, Cecile Nobrega,
Stella Merriman, Glenna
Tisshaw, G.M.C., Violet
The Agony of Icarus ..
Spirit of the Sea Wall
Son asleep-aged six months
Mais of Jamaica
The Two Shores
The 63 Beach
Reviews: Thunder Returning
,, Seasons of Adventure
A. J. Seymour
Contributions and all letters should be sent to the Editor, "Kyk-
Over-Al", 23 North Road, Bourda, Georgetown, British Guiana.
Because of reasons of economy and many
other pressures this is a slim edition of Kyk-
Over-al, attempting bravely to maintain the
traditions of the past, and also to chart new
The symposium of views on children and
values in a changing society should be a timely
stimulus to alert public opinion; the short story
by Wilson Harris, and the poems of Martin
Carter, Milton Williams and Ian McDonald ex-
hibit the respective viewpoints of their authors
on the contemporary scene and we welcome the
poems of Brojo Bhattacharya as the acknowl-
edgement of the working of the genius of the
place upon the spirit of a son of India. The
Aspen article is an episode from a valuable
Regretfully some articles have had to be
omitted, especially an account of the PEN short
story workshop by Nellie Wishart, but we hope
to have an issue out early in 1962.
This is good reading.
Aspen and the
By A. J. SEYMOUR
wT was love at first sight when I saw my favourite mountain at
Aspen. Aspen Meadows, the ranch-type hotel where we
stayed is in the plateau ringed by mountains on all sides and
Cleopatra, as I grew to call my favourite peak, would beckon
to me from morning to sunset with one or other of her in-
finitely various and bewitching aspects. She would change her
aspect with the changing sun. Cleopatra lay to the south and
I would have to throw my glance over the small town of Aspen,
Colorado, to see her smiling with the skilift running up her
face through the cleft in the fir trees. This was Emerson's
definition of a lover-"all eye when the beloved is present and
all memory when she is gone". Of course, I had never met a
mountain before at such close quarters. I had seen the Kanaku
Mountains in the Rupununi as we travelled by jeep from Lethem
to Wichibai, and I had seen peaks from ships and trams and
buses, but I had never before gone to bed with a mountain out-
side my window at night and seen her wake up to her infinite
variety with the first groping rays of the sun. I was entranced
with my Cleopatra.
Perhaps, too, the altitude had something to do with it.
Aspen is 8,000 feet above sea level, high enough for the rare-
fied atmosphere to make a difference to one's breathing the
first day and night. It was like the first stage of intoxication
and gives one a lift of the spirit and a heightened expectancy
which would make a kitchen maid a duchess and so throw over
Cleopatra, already beautiful, an aura of great desire. I spent
a great deal of time at Aspen at the desk, reading the passages
required for discussion at the daily seminars or writing up my
diary or jotting down notes, or composing letters in the chain
of correspondence I maintained with Guiana, New York and
India. Every now and then I would pause, lift my glance
across Aspen to Cleopatra and search the unique beauty of
landscape she was presenting at that particular and never-to-be
repeated moment. Once I thought this must be the beginning
of mountaineering-fever, but the onset never came; I had no
desire to climb my mountain. It was enough to see her and
revel in her various beauty.
In addition to Cleopatra, there was the music festival which
was in progress at Aspen while we were there. Of course I
should have been prepared for this. As we took our seats on
the coach to drive the 40 mountain miles from the railway
station, Glenwood Springs, to the terminus at Aspen, an at-
tractive teenager, complete with violin, smiled vaguely at us
and asked, "Are you for the Festival?". We had perforce to
say, "No, we had come for the Institute of Humanistic Studies".
The girl smiled vaguely again and completely lost interest in us,
and a little later found a young man who also carried a musical
instrument and within minutes they were deep in excited con-
versation. The first afternoon I was there I attended a Young
Artists Concert at which a Tokyo girl, Taeko Fujii, looking as if
she could hardly breathe in the tight kimono, sang a series of
children's songs in the Japanese in a soprano voice which was
truly glorious in the upper register and dramatic in all its
modulations. She sang of a baby carriage that was lonesome
because baby was sick and nurse had gone home; of the baby
wind.that went to the mountain and made the flowers open
their eyes and sing together; of a crow with a black suit that
none of the children liked because of the colour of his suit; of
wild geese crying on the mountain and telling the children to
stay in bed because it was very cold outside.
The total effect was most liberating, all the more because
these were the cream of the musical students in America and
I hadn't heard good music for a few weeks, and in the shabby
amphitheatre tent the other students and their teachers, and a
few persons like myself who had wandered in from the Seminar
sessions, made a bond of musical fellowship among ourselves
in the bright afternoon.
I have vivid memories of the Hungarian Quartet who per-
formed the next afternoon with vibrant energy. They played
hunched in a group with their white heads almost touching and
often one could hear a pleasing note of violin sweetness soar-
ing against the low cello thunder which they evoked from the
music of Milhaud. But all central Europe was present in their
strings and they acknowledged a gipsy inspiration. They were
almost daemonic in their dynamics, and they only relaxed into
elderly men when the music ended and they stood up to acknowl-
edge the applause. The composer was present and so they
clapped too and at last Milhaud deigned to be discovered and
to bow his own grey head to the tribute from the middle of the
It was while the Hungarian Quartet was playing that I
suddenly became conscious of what Aspen could mean in its
timeless quality. Here was the summer musical festival al-
ternating with the winter sports. These dark pine forests
which clothed the flanks of Cleopatra and her sisters and which
surrounded the circular plateau on which Aspen had risen
again from the ghostliness of her silver-boom days, alternated
between the silence of the snows and the music of the festivals.
Surely there was some relationship between the dark peace
brooding in the pines broken sometimes by a low round of
thunder in the ring of these granite mountains clothed in
green, and the almost worshipful concentration of music lovers
drawn from many parts of America and the world upon the
incense of lovely sound rising daily from the amphitheatre in
the centre of the plateau. These pines must echo with the
music and store the glorious sounds in their dark shadows to
brood upon them in their periods of silence and withdrawal.
Some of the old snows on Cleopatra's peak or that of Mt.
Sopris nearby linger through the year everlastingly and their
flanks would show deeply furrowed with shadow by the early
and late sun. Light the great draughtsman would measure out
the gloom on the green coat of the sleeping mountains, and
here were we, frail imperfect human beings bringing our music
to match against the silence of the eternal snows. And yet,
the sky seen through the opening of the tent was so baby blue
above the green. It was young and so on man's side.
I thought upon these things later and I wrote a poem.
That very evening, the German baritone Hans Hotter gave
a recital of Songs by Hugo Wolf as part of the Hugo Wolf
Centenary Celebrations. This took place at the Wheeler Opera
House, beautifully appointed in red and velvet and full of
German-speaking people who had travelled in for many miles
for the concerts. I remember how much a cross between Pre-
sident de Gaulle and an athlete the singer looked as he strode
on the stage, his magnificent figure set off to perfection by
the evening dress. We had programme notes giving an English
rendering of the songs with their melancholy love of nature and
their philosophical analysis of life and love and death grace-
fully turned into song. These were expressively rendered by
Hans Hotter. Sometimes his face would assume the appear-
ance of a grimace as the emotions worked on his sensitive face.
This was the artist consummately at work, but I wonder
whether I didn't enjoy even more the next day's performance
of the Aspen Festival Orchestra under Izler Solomon. Mr.
Solomon looked as if he could be either Jewish or Amerindian,
but he led the music with a dashing verve. The music of Aaron
Copland was new to me-they played "The Outdoor Overture"-
and so was that of Ernest Bloch's "Schelomo". This latter had
about it some vision of the Jewish spirit in its voluptuous
swell; one could think of Rubenesque women as the harmonies
developed. Because of my traditionally placid ear, it was the
music of Mozart and Brahms which I enjoyed most, parti-
cularly Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn. But the
musical riches of Aspen were not exhausted on the concert
platform; they could be found also in the satisfying service of
the little Methodist Church which we attended on Sunday.
There were rich voices in the small choir that brought back the
memory of the wonderful singing of the boys in King's College
Chapel, Cambridge. This choir was admirably blended and the
singing had the quality of the humming of golden bees, over
and around the clearly articulated words sung in concert. One
was torn between the desire to treat the hymn singing as a
concert in which one stood and listened and as worship in
which one took part. It was with regret that I looked at the
continuing programme of music which would be played at
Aspen after I had gone. I would have wished to stay, but the
exigencies of the time-table agreed in Washington had an in-
exorable aspect about them and San Francisco lay ahead.
At Aspen there was also the Institute of Humanistic
Studies with its music of ideas. For the fortnight which in-
cluded the period of our visit, the Aspen Executives Programme
had a schedule of reading assignments and seminars, and public
lectures and discussions devoted to America's Purpose in the
World. For moderators there were two professors, Dean Ster-
ling McMurrin of the University of Utah, and Frank Pierson
of Swarthmore College, with special guests including the United
Kingdom Ambassador to United Nations; the President of the
Committee for Economic Development, the Dean of the Divinity
School at Harvard, a General of the U.S. Air Force and the
President of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers International
Among the participants were the Presidents, Vice-Presi-
dents and Directors of some dozen American business combina-
tions such as the I.B.M.C., and the First National Bank of
Chicago. I recall that in 1949 at the Goethe Bi-Centennial
Celebration Mr. Walter Paepcke as Chairman of the Board of
the Aspen Institute had brought Albert Schweitzer and that
there was a regular programme on the Great Ideas of Western
Man and the Responsibilities of Leadership.
The period of our stay coincided with the discussions on
loyalty, communism and academic freedom, power politics and
peaceful coexistence, the place of individualism in the Ameri-
can ethos. These were for the most part based on the
scheduled readings from "The People Shall Judge", a compila-
tion in 1700 closely-printed pages, prepared by the Social
Sciences Division of the University of Chicago, and setting forth
the great arguments and the basic documents of American
We arrived to find that a pattern was evolving in which
the American point of view on these subjects was set out by
the majority of speakers but that Sir Pierson Dixon, the British
Ambassador, was skilfully highlighting the main differences and
resemblances by stressing the British tradition. For example,
one morning's seminar discussion (it ran from 10-12 noon)
ranged over the relative emphases of Government and private
enterprise; the development of weapons and other international
issues; the self determination of colonies; the degree of plan-
ning compatible with liberty in the democratic life; the automa-
tic stabilizing devices built into comparative democratic
systems; the complexity in public life which leads to public
controls; the way in which an administration should
maintain certain levels of employment in order to afford a
maximum level of choice; the underlying assumptions of the
structure of society; this is merely to list the topics which
played and interplayed one with the other in a brilliant glowing
palimpest of ideas and argument.
On this pattern we quickly introduced a modification.
After the American position on any issue had been stated and
the British Position placed in juxtaposition, Sir Pierson or the
moderator would turn courteously and enquire whether the
position of emergent territories needed any modification of
statement and we would enter wholeheartedly into the discus-
sion from the neo-colonial point of view. Of course sometimes
there would be no chance for the orderly progression of formula
and idea, and what emerged would be a disciplined free-for-all
with the moderator riding a loose rein on the seminar.
This happened for instance in the discussions on loyalty
conformity and academic freedom. Speakers dissociated loyalty
from the right to constitutional criticism; stressed that dis-
loyalty was not inherent in thought processes but apparent
after a decision is made, the dictates of conscience, the values
for which a person would gladly choose death, rather than live
with them, the channels of information and reporting in stra-
tegic commands, the right to revolution and the ethics of revolt,
the relationship between Antigone and McCartheyism, the
dynamic of ideas and deeds within the law, etc.; the controlled
rates of disconformity necessary for a nation's development, the
balance of power in the world which is possible without a bal-
ance of terror, etc.
It is impossible to convey in the confines of a short article
the fine play of ideas which the seminar engendered; and it is as
impossible to summarize the residuum of value left with the
human personality. But one did gain the impression that many
persons of influence in America stood fast by the traditional
isolationist policy of the nation; that they accepted world
leadership reluctantly, conscious that the new global challenges
would work a revolution on their national philosophy even in
peace time, that they were hesitant before the need to learn
new techniques of approach and reconciliation with the emer-
gent nations. But there was a natural friendliness and a good-
Samaritan attitude which could be mobilized into considerable
It was at Aspen that while discussing the problems of con-
formity I told the story of my unworn American hat. As I had
to be present when H.R.H., The Prince Philip opened the British
Exhibition in New York, my sister-in-law had bought me a hat
at Macy so that I should be suitably turned out. I never wore
the hat again after that ceremonial occasion, as I realized that
I might so behatted, easily be taken for a thorough-going
American, and that I might therefore be expected to behave
according to the American mores which I did not know. It was
because of this same disconformity that Aspen was so refresh-
ing. At table I could chat with the wives of the participants
and discuss the varying needs for the symbols of success which
Vance Packard had made so popular, ask about the status of
the American woman or the civil liberties taken for granted
by the American now becoming apparent in the underdeveloped
countries. We talked too about the belief that on the American
scene there was considerable corruption and that it was fashion-
able and right to be able (as some thought), to gip the adminis-
tration in income tax and also about the differences in outlook
of the American of the second generation as compared with
the Americans of the third or fourth generation toward con-
formity for instance or American responsibilities in the world.
It was in those informal dinner conversations that we could
gauge the power of the stranglehold of labour upon American
industry and could sense the pride with which the American
wife and mother recalled her philosophy courses at University
in the days she first met her husband, and the trained and intel-
ligent interest she took in the children's growing up and the
husband's business. I could gather too, the strength of the
respect which we all had for the taste and aristocracy of the
British Ambassador to France carried so lightly before us as
colonials and them as Americans. Our table companions like
ourselves, had noticed the sense of community fear of nuclear
attack in the general mass of people, although they themselves
tended to minimise hysterical attitudes, as a result partly of
their superior community status and partly the detached atmo-
sphere of the Aspen Institute.
Without doubt Sir Pierson Dixon was the outstanding
personality at Aspen that summer. He had just been appointed
United Kingdom Ambas'sador to France from his former post
as head of the U.K. delegation to the United Nations, and he
combined ambassadorial charm with immense experience of men
and affairs developed from an English aristocratic background.
He gave a lecture one evening at Aspen on History in
National Policy in which he traced United Kingdom-United
States associations over the past 200 years, discussed relation-
ships with India and France, remarked that the Congo had
lacked the sinews of government, touched upon Russia and com-
munism and stated his three main points on that score, the
vitality of the Russian people, the resurgence of the Great
Russian race and the fact that public opinion was being taken
into account more nowadays in Russian affairs. He stressed
the Byzantine tradition always apparent from the days of
Catherine the Great. As he saw it, the West should rely on
historical friendships, strengthen its position but keep in con-
tact with the U.S.S.R., and pay great attention to the struggle
in the uncommitted world.
But I cannot forget the quiet scholarly contributions made
to the seminar by Dean Samuel Miller from the Divinity School
at Harvard with his probing questioning, his' exquisite word
choice and his insistence on fundamental cultural and religious
values in the society. He it was who remarked that religion was
being sidetracked from its purpose of saving men's souls into
becoming an inefficient rival to social welfare.
Sterling McMurrin in his approach to the, discussions
exhibited that he was a practising philosopher. As moderator,
he was constantly seeking to bring Dean Miller into play to
redress the pragmatic attitudes of the businessmen participants.
Frank Pierson, the other moderator, was an economist, par
excellence the spokesman of the businessman in America from
the academic point of view. Jack Knight as Vice-President of
the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and president of an international workers'
union, could always be relied upon sharply to juxtapose the
workers' position against any statement of progress and profits.
Both Jack and Raymond Starr acted as our personal sponsors
as Aspen, taking us in tow as visitors at their dining table, and
there is a debt of gratitude due to them which this acknowl-
edgement cannot discharge.
Bill McWhirter of the I.B.M.C., Tom Edwards of the
Teachers' Annuity Association, Howard Landau they and
their wives and many other couples shared the delights of the
Copper Kettle and the pleasures of conversation in a social
setting with the visitors from Guiana so that we became fast
Aspen, therefore, was a success in social relationships as
well as an inspiration in friendship.
Aspen proved also to have unexpected delights. Once in
1879 it had been a silver town where the mining barons made
their fortunes from the fabulously rich ore sleeping in the
mountains and where they lost them in races between their
thoroughbred horses, organised on the very meadows from
which I contemplated Cleopatra. Then it had given up the
ghost in the 1890's after the panic in which silver was demoni-
tized. Only 500 persons refused to leave the beauty of snow
and forest in valley and mountain. For them the Roaring
Fork River was enough and they enjoyed the fishing and the
hunting. Then an industrialist from Chicago happened upon
Aspen, so the story goes, and he brought the town alive again.
Walter Paepcke founded the Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen
Music Schools and established the Institute of Humanistic
Studies to occupy the summer while the winter feature became
skiiing. All the old Victorian landmarks were renovated and
the new mountain-style lodges and shops were built. These
were stocked with curios and books to appeal to the musically
and intellectually inclined and the restaurants and eating places
blossomed with strange and even exotic dishes on the menu.
The Copper Kettle Restaurant which was a part of Aspen
Meadows specialised in serving different national culinary
specialties six nights of the week and the waitresses who served
us were dressed in colourful and traditional costumes with a
There is a Health Centre at Aspen to jog the circulation
of the energetic businessmen who came to the Institute where
one could undergo planned physical exercise and have massage
and physio-therapy treatment. The seminar building has a large
discussion or lecture hall in which 240 persons at a time can
listen to the discussions centring around the role of the busi-
nessman as a leader in today's society and his responsibility
towards the maintenance and development of industrial
In my diary I noted that Aspen had some of the atmosphere
of the Academy of Plato. As we walked to the seminar build-
ing from the lodges, or to the music tent, across the meadows,
we would separate into groups and discuss personal angles
upon the theme of the day and establish friendships or per-
sonal associations ever afterwards remembered with pleasure.
It was at Aspen that I got my deepest and most intimate
knowledge of America and her purpose in the contemporary
They say I am a poet write for them:
Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I solemly nod.
I do not want to look them in the eye
Lest they should squeal and scamper far away.
A poet cannot write for those who ask
Hardly himself even, except he lies :
Poems are written either for the dying
Or for the unborn, no matter what we say.
That does not mean his audience lies remote
Inside a womb or some cold bed of agony
It only means that we who want true poems
Must all be born again, and die to do so.
I dare not keep too silent, face averted
That tells too much, it gives the heart away
Quick words distract attention from the eyes
And smiling lips are most acceptable.
In any case it is not good to show
The nature of the silence of the heart
To talk is just as easy as to walk
And laughter can be one of a thousand kinds.
I must be casual even over death
This fools the fool whose triumph is a coffin
Shallow as grave pit is the mock concern
Which murders men as surely as a knife.
To cherish silence in the memory
Is to be full of utter loneliness.
It must be right when born with such a curse
To laugh and talk and drink like any boor.
The wild men in prisons, they who rot like rust !
The loud men who cry freedom and are so full of lies I
The drunk men who go dancing like shadows down the street
These all surround me, shouting to God for help !
I really do not see how God can help them.
For each one wants the same thing-who can share
To prisoners, politicians and drunk men
What only souls that blaze and burn can win?
Trying with words to purify disgust
I made a line I simply can't remember:
For hours now I've poked through memory
A desperate child in a jam-packed garbage can.
It should have been a line with nouns and verbs
Like truth and 'love and hope and happiness
But looking round it seems I was mistaken
To substitute a temple for a shop.
To see a shop and dream of holy temples
Is to expect a toad to sing a song
And yet, who knows, someone may turn translator
When all these biped reptiles crawl again.
Now there was one whom I knew long ago
And then another to whom I paid respect:
The first I would salute, the second praise
But all is gone, all gone, the murderer cried.
Along what road they went he cannot say
So many roads there are, so many bends.
There is no short cut to integrity
All, all is gone, all gone, the murderer cried.
They did not mean to kill only to burn
But then one act can transform everything
A brother into charcoal, love to crime
Yes, all is gone, all gone, the murderer cried.
Groaning, in this wilderness of silence
Where voices hardly human shout at me
I imitate the most obscure of insects
And burrow in the soil and hide from light.
Speaking with one on a pavement in the city
I watched the greedy mouth, the cunning eye
I reeled and nearly fell in frantic terror
Seeing a human turn into a dog.
Recovering, I studied this illusion
And made a stupid effort to be strong :
I noddled and agreed and listened close.
But when I tried to utter words-I barked!
In a great silence I hear approaching rain:
There is a sound of conflict in the sky
The frightened lizard darts behind a stone
First was the wind, now is the wild assault.
I wish this world would sink and drown again
So that we build another Noah's ark
And send another little dove to find
What we have lost in floods of misery.
Children and Values in a
A. J. SEYMOUR.
I remember as a small boy lying in bed at night with my
toes curling in delicious terror as my Nana told me amazing
stories of Haiti in her dry way, and of Burra Nancy and Burra
Tiger and the ruses and counter stratagems as they sought
to outwit one another. Later I realized how much I shared
with the slaves of the 19th century as I desperately wished
cunning to triumph over brute strength. But for the children
of a later generation this type of tale has been absent and
there has not been this nourishment of the springs of child-
I remember too my father talking, not to me, but in the
family, of Tennyson, Gibbon, Darwin, Longfellow, Thomas
Henry Huxley, so that I got an impression of what these names
stood for, long before I could open their pages and commune
with the ideas they expressed. There is a quotation from
Bacon about the sovereignty of man lying hid in knowledge
which I caught from him and have repeated on many occasions
but I have not yet set eyes upon it on a page.
Looking back on these perhaps personal memories I ask
myself and many of us can also ask the question of ourselves.
"Do the children of today enjoy better opportunities than we
had when we were growing up 15 or 20 years ago and how are
they taking advantage of them? Are they being better pre-
pared for life?
What of the world in which they will be adults, will it
provide them with a better life and living, than we are enjoy-
What of the bonds of authority and what of the trans-
mission of traditions and beliefs?"
There are many allied questions which come easily to
mind-tolerance between sections of the community, emphasis
upon the academic and the technical differences between the
child in a territory like ours and in an advanced society like
the United Kingdom or the U.S.A. or Canada-and they all
need and require an answer. The Jephcott Report made the
point that in 1966 in British Guiana there will be 2 persons
under the age of 21 against every one over that age. We are
passing into a form of society which will be dominated by the
teenager, and this at the same time that we are becoming re-
sponsible for our own affairs as a country. How are we pre-
paring for this pervasive influence of possible immaturity?
In many parts of the world, the lords of the entertainment
world have begun to woo the teenagers for the money in their
pockets; the films, the gramophone recordings, radio and T.V.
programmes stand in evidence of their attempts and successes.
In the belief that you are willing to express your views
on this important situation, I invite you to take part in a sym-
posium which I hope to have published shortly in an issue of
Kyk Overal. Many aspects will occur to you for possible com-
ment and I will list some of them-the expectation of life and
the health of children-children and the arts, painting, music,
dance, literature (especially the impact of the comics and the
newspapers)-children and religious and moral instructions-
children and sport and showbusiness-children's dress-the de-
velopment of a sense of money values and of responsibility-
but there are many others. This will be a collection of views
partly on the theme "I remember, I remember" but with a
difference, because of the urgency of the situation and the
need for the more intelligent members' of the community to
bring their thoughts to bear upon it at the earliest possible
Please write at any length you consider desirable, and
either anonymously or not as you care. What is important is
your contribution to help guide community thought. And will
you please send me your contribution by May 31.
Let us glance backwards at our little corner of the world
as it was in the first decade of the century. How did children
fare in those far-off days? There were no radios or radio-
grams, no "talkies" or comics, no playgrounds or visits to the
zoo. Cinemas were few and so were story books. There were
fewer parties, picnics and outings. A child falling asleep in
1960 and transported in dreams to conditions prevailing in
1906 would be enduring a terrible nightmare. He would
awaken with relief to realize and appreciate the tremendous
advantages and opportunities surrounding him. Not only his
learning but his play is made interesting.
In spite of all this lack we were not less happy. Home was
the centre around which our whole lives revolved. There were
not many toys, but in our leisure hours we lived in an imag-
inary world in which our everyday life was reconstructed in
miniature. Every thing unpleasant was eliminated, all that was
enjoyable emphasized. Dolls, too, were limited, and clumsy,
compared with the artistic and lifelike creations in our shops
today. To us they were living, real. They ate and slept, went
to school and back home. They even married, died and were
buried with due solemnity. Brothers were useful as build-
ers, doctors, teachers, preachers and even as grave diggers!
We scrambled up and down trees and imagined elves, robbers
and at dusk even spooks in shady corners.
Parties in 1906 were few and far between. Each was
eagerly anticipated, and remembered with pleasure for months
after. Every visit to the cinema was an exciting event, earned
as a reward for special conduct, and preserved afterwards in
the storehouse of memory. A picture that moved; the wonder
of it! I can never forget my two excursions to the Town Hall
and the Philharmonic Hall, where I wept over Uncle Sam's
woe and Eva's death, and gazed in awe at Vesuvius in erup-
Today young children are often confused by the abundance
of toys and picture books showered upon them at the annual
birthday parties. Older ones seem entirely dependent upon
outside entertainment, especially the movies, for their leisure
hours. Some teenagers take the cinema for granted, and find
life dull in between parties. It is not difficult to find 'oldstirs'
of seventeen who think most parties slow and boring. They
have lost their thrill. Is there not something seriously wrong
in all this? Does it not reveal an inner emptiness, a lack of
spiritual resources in our adolescents?
It is my conviction that boys and girls who early find in
the Church a spiritual home do not have this inner restlessness.
Today it seems that the voices calling to Sunday sport are so
insistent and alluring that they drown the Church's call to wor-
ship. If we desire the highest welfare of our children we dare
not let them grow up without an appreciation of the essential
spiritual values-beauty, truth and goodness. We need hardly
remind ourselves of the association of such concepts as 'God
and goodness, goodness and peace, peace and prosperity. As
we face the future we could seek no better goal for our beloved
MEIfDRED T. MANsEswm
"We are passing into a form of society which will be
dominated by the teenager.....How are we preparing for this
pervasive influence of possible immaturity?"
I am asked to express my views on this important situa-
tion, many aspects of which are suggested, e.g. children and
religious and moral instructions. Views are to be based partly
on the theme "I remember, I remember." Promptly came the
teasing remembrance of
"I remember, I remember
The house where I was born"
and I could not rest content until I had sought and obtained
the whole poem (through the ready courtesy of Miss Thorne
of the Public Free Library). Thomas Hood's poem with its
lilting cadence brings nostalgic memories of childhood and its
dreams of one sort and another. It is of childhood we would
think, when foundations are laid. Do share the poem-in part
"I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now ............
I remember, I remember,
The roses red and white,
The vi'lets and the lily-cups,
The flowers made of light;
I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing
My spirit flew in feathers then,
I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now, 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heav'n
Than when I was a boy."
I may be farther off from heaven, but I am back in "the
house where I was born" and the happiness of every room is
enfolding me. What experiences do I remember, what lessons
was I taught with loving forethought, that could be of value
to the young of this atomic age! An age, in which, seemingly,
parents feel that they must back down, as against an age in
which the parent was more persistent and determined in his
effort at guidance!
There were, first and foremost, Morning Prayers, which
moments now appear in retrospect like a Desired Haven, and
a benediction flows over me, as I remember. Though I also
well remember, in a rush for school, having been furious at
being gently but firmly detained, since the need for rush was
of my own making! The first hymn I remember being used
was "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild"-words and phrases easy
of understanding to the child-mind. As I grew older, it was
changed to "We are but little children weak, Nor born in any
high estate; What can we do for Jesus" sake, Who is so high
and good and great?...... When bitter words are on our
tongues, And tears of passion in our eyes, Then we may check
the angry word........" As far as I remember, nothing was
specially directed at me, but the crescendo in my father's voice
used to be most telling! It was' a long time before I could sing
that hymn peacefully-the battlefield of the "swelling heart"
was too near-but the lessons had been taught. How grateful
I am for the parents I had, who were not afraid to be per-
Having remembered the Home, let me now remember the
Sunday School. What rich enjoyment that was! The sun
could not have shone every Sunday, but I seem to remember
only sunny days and crowds of young people of all classes
wending their way happily and cheerfully to the school room
or church hall. It seemed like fun then; now I know it was
a happy, if unconscious, fellowship. And Children's Day! No,
it wasn't the Dorcas Tag Day! It was the special united Chil-
dren's Service with a special theme, a special form of service
and special music which we had rehearsed for weeks each in
our respective schools. It was thrilling to see St. Andrew's
Scots Church packed with young people and teachers from top
to bottom, and to hear the lovely pipe organ which inspired
the hearty praise, for praise it was indeed!!
I remember the first Children's Day when I was 10. The
story was told of the founding of the Sunday School in Eng-
land by Robert Raikes, who had been overwhelmed by the sight
of the unshepherded children in the Gloucester streets. "Your
dogs sleep warm in their baskets" was an expressive line in
a poem recited that afternoon more than half-a-century ago.
It sought to tell of the need for caring and teaching the
young of the human family-a need that is as pressing and as
great now as it ever was, even it be in different measure, since
there is reason to fear that a generation is growing up that
does not know that "man's chief end is to glorify God."
Emphasis is being laid on this and that-more and more
education, for example, with science for preference. Yet des-
pite marvellous scientific achievements, mankind has never,
so far as I remember, lived in greater fear! Better and im-
proved houses and housing conditions-yes, but are we and the
children happier? Still more and more entertainment-again,
are the children happier than they would be with less?
So, delving into the Land of Remembrance as I have done,
what have I found of value for the children of today? I cannot
improve on these words of wisdom:-
"Remember thou thy Creator in the days of thy
youth...... Let us hear the conclusion of the whole mat-
ter", the wise man finishes; "Fear God, and keep his Com-
mandments': for this is the whole duty of man."
And did not a greater than Solomon, centuries later, sum up
the matter without equivocation: "Seek ye first the kingdom of
God; and all these things shall be added....." Therein lies
the answer to our children's needs and therefore, in the light
of present circumstances, is there urgency for consecrated
homes and schools, the media through which we can create
a proper sense of values and responsibility.
I do not think there is any doubt that the children of today
enjoy better opportunities than those of 20 or 30 years ago.
Living standards have improved, life expectation is greater,
and the educational opportunities still amaze the older gen-
eration to whom university education was confined to the
wealthy. At the same time, their problems are greater and
they have no precedents or traditions to follow in meeting and
The child of the last generation was brought up, perhaps
rather strictly, but in a clearly defined framework of childhood
within the family. The importance of the family as a unit in the
community was accepted and the order and leisureliness of
family life was traditional. A child grew up in the security
of familiar rules and the affectionate atmosphere of closely
The process of growing up, a generation ago, was slower
and more leisurely. One imbibed from infancy the principles
of right and wrong, for in the old folklore and bedtime stories,
right always triumphed over might, and good over evil; the
hero was always endowed with gallantry and courtesy, and
the lady was, without doubt, virtuous. And so, a child uncon-
Sciously grew up with certain fixed standards which were en-
couraged and confirmed by parents who themselves believed
in these standards and tried by example and precept to inculcate
them in their children.
But the leisurely process of character forming is now out-
moded. Within a generation this pattern has almost disap-
peared. The emphasis on moral and spiritual values has
lessened. The old folklore stories are forgotten and the ritual
of the bedtime hour is fast falling into desuetude. The con-
siderable increase in the number of working mothers has meant,
to a large extent, the deterioration of family life. The vari-
ous modern methods of child training has led to vacillation
in discipline and the influence of low-grade movies has been
distinctly harmful to manners and morals. As a result, the
children rush eagerly, but unprepared, through their childhood
into the greater freedom of their teen years.
Today's teenagers have all the outward trappings of adults.
In addition, they are handling and controlling a much larger por-
tion of the money in circulation than before. These facts, in
conjunction with the greater freedom of the age, contribute
to circumstances which pressure young people, more and more,
into making decisions beyond their emotional or intellectual
maturity. Their attitude towards money is illuminating. The
primary issue is 'keeping up' with the gang. Consequently,
their money values are distorted, and it is pathetic but true,
that numbers of young people use the possession of worldly
goods as the yardstick in their valuation of friends and
There is greater liberty and opportunity for today's young
people but as many have not been taught that restraint is in-
herent in liberty, that moral and spiritual values are funda-
mental, that money is important but its proper place in the
scale of values must be recognized, they cannot take full ad-
vantage of their opportunities. They lack a sense of purpose
and dissipate their energies in aimless pursuits'.
These are some of the problems that confront young people
and their parents today. And they are problems which are
common not only in British Guiana, but in many other coun-
tries. A re-acceptance of the family as an important unit of
community life; education in which the concepts of the world's
great religions are discussed; school curricula in which civics
and philosophy occupy prominent places; a re-appraisal by
women of the ways in which they take advantage of their
emancipation, and the recognition that their primary responsi-
bility is still as creators of happy homes. These are some of
the ideas that come to mind in endeavouring to solve the
But I should like to venture a few words on what seems
to me, an aspect of values in a changing society, that is par-
ticular to British Guiana at this period.
We have been quietly living through several revolutions,
and simultaneously, most of us unaware of them and their im-
portance, our ears deafened as they are by the political drum-
mers. In the years between the last generation and this one,
beneath the vociferous sounds of political and industrial pro-
gress, immense changes, too, in the social and economic struc-
ture have been taking place.
The old order of a privileged elite based on the English
system of 'class, married to the West Indian one of 'colour'
has been set aside almost overnight and the inevitable confu-
sion of values consequent on such a swift change has re-
Racial barriers have been breached and the tide of inte-
gration is flowing.
The pace of political change has seemed revolutionary after
the long slumber of the war and pre-war years. Unfortunately,
the political divisions appear to run along racial lines and this
has fostered sectional racial bitterness and antagonism.
The economic change-over has not been as dramatic as
the political one but nevertheless its import is now being real-
ized. One has only to stroll down Main Street or Brickdam or
Camp Street, and it becomes obvious in which direction the
wind of economic change is blowing.
Both political and economic power have been grasped by
the two groups at the bottom of the 'class' and 'colour' scales,
and it is inevitable that the standards and values' which rele-
gated these groups to the bottom must now be revised.
The set standards of parents who grew up 20 or 30 years
ago have been broken before their astonished eyes and they
have retreated in confusion and bewilderment to their cocktail
parties and an unending round of sport and amusement. The
accepted values of the last generation have been swept away and
in this period before adjustment to the new outlook, the young
people are left without guidance from their parents or from
tradition to flounder uncertainly in the new social conditions.
They need direction and attainable goals to give meaning and
ambition to their lives.
Until the parents themselves adjust or come to terms with
the new conditions which have arisen in British Guiana, it is
difficult to expect children and young people to understand the
significance of our "quiet revolutions," and formulate new
values to guide them in the new world in which they will live.
Looking back on the days when "Children were supposed
to be like Old Men's Beards"--Seen and not heard, I too re-
member and mourn the loss of storytelling amongst parents
and Nannies, but gone are the days when it was regarded
the correct thing for a woman's place to be in her home. In
that period her day was truly 24 hours and with the help of
cheap and interested assistants she was able to have hours on
end for planning the careful and sheltered life of her children.
In fact her children were her only escape from boredom and
she not only read stories to them but improvised serials which
would maintain the child's interest and imagination day in
Indeed that was the atmosphere in which most children
of every class were reared in a warm and loving supervision of
their elders' a literal leading by the hand and spoonfeeding
campaign was regarded as the only way in which to bring up
a child. No child was allowed to argue a.point-that would
be regarded as RUDE-No child was allowed to dictate what
clothes he or she would like to wear or be permitted to make.
The Parent had the absolute rule and was the only thinking
agent for the child in that society.
With the end of the two World Wars we found that woman-
hood as we knew it was changed and was now fully mobilised
for total service. The impact of scientific developments and
industrialisation with the accent on raised standards pressed
women into becoming equal wage-earners with men in the
fight to earn more to acquire more for their comforts and for
educating their families. It was realized then that the modern
time-saving devices were made to enable her to run two jobs
efficiently-keep a fine home and do a fine job outside the home.
The impact on the children of this period prompted children
to think for themselves. The working mother would have little
or no time to fuss about her children in the morning. No time
to have them narrate their dreams-No time to hear them say
their prayers-no time for Bible Reading. This subtle up-
heaval from the calm religious way of life to the hectic scram-
ble for material things mainly to keep up with the Jones" has
had a pronounced effect on the child of today. Quite realis-
tically he has to rely on his own resources and assert himself
to think and do for himself all the things which were done
for the child of a former period. The reaction of such a child
having gained a certain amount of confidence in himself id,
he feels a natural inflation of his ego-"I'm just as good
as a grown up" sort of, "I can manage my own affairs"-The
child of today has lost that sense of pride in his elder as he
assesses him an equal and a par-He has no goal as the child
of yore who dreamed up all things he'd like to be.....When
I grow big.... They honestly think they are there already
and should not 'be pushed around as kids are' (to use some of
their slangs.) How obvious! The grown up on the other hand
assesses it as disrespect. The gruff short, laisser faire man-
ner of the teenager we created, for it is only natural to hello
a companion or equal rather than bow politely, taking a hat
off to an elder to bid a "Good Morning". This attitude of
today's child is a natural result of "throwing him on his own
or making a man of him, rather than 'ordering him' to do as
he is told'. We can do nothing but accept today's child as he
is for he is the child of circumstance and one we helped to
There is no doubt that maturity is largely gained from
years of experience-though it can be argued that a period
of ten years can be spawned through the medium of films or a
good book depicting human experiences. The use in this age
of comics, Television Radio and a natural exposure to life
enables today's child to build up a reservoir of experience con-
sciously or unconsciously.
Whether we like to admit it or not-Today's child may
have lost much of the old legends and fairy tales we of the
past thrived on and which in the words of one writer who said,
"there has not been this nourishment of the springs of child-
imagination"-perhaps too he may have been deprived of much
cuddling and babying. All of these 'luxuries' may have pro-
duced a more suave and gentle personality, but indeed a more
dependent one. His mind would have fed rather more on fan-
tasy than on facts, and though we might dub him "forceriped"
or "immature" because his growth has been pressured, in my
opinion he is the correct specie of his time. He survives be-
cause he is a thinking tough product, because he knows the
facts and faces them single-handed. He spends his money
with the theme that tomorrow will take care of itself. He argues
about religion, he adores science because it cannot accept any-
thing as final, but must grope in further research for answers.
He loves life and lives fully and carefree, enjoying the abund-
ance of youth and health with an attitude that does not cringe
and knows no fear or inhibition. When he fails it is surely
because he has become frustrated by our sense of values as
betwixt our time and his--a great gulf is fixed. The problem
of adjusting without criticism or rebuke, or without tolerance
from the elders whose only utterance is ridicule to the teen-
ager or disparaging comparisons is a ghastly outlook. His only
reaction is to rebel-and rebel he will against all authority or
pattern of yore.
It would be difficult to have any hard and fast solution to
a problem so vast as this, but in as much as statistics of the
Jephcott Report show that in 1966 in British Guiana there will
be 2 persons under the age of 21 against every one over that
age, it would be worth trying I think to organize and sponsor
a PARTNERSHIP RELATION in which the older brigade think
kindly of youth giving him the utmost encouragement and guid-
ance where it is felt necessary to bolster the weak elements in
his way of life. Only with love and tolerance could we build
the confidence he needs to "take over" successfully, for to pro-
nounce him RADICAL, LAWLESS & IMMATURE he may grow
completed and opposed to any bargaining with age.
This would be the most unforgettable mistake of our
time to be so shortsighted as not to acclaim him King of Tomor-
row and give him the co-operation he needs to build a worth-
STELLA E. MERRIMAN.
The pattern of life is swiftly changing. Science, through
television, radio and the telephone, has brought the world into
our sitting room. This morning we breakfast here and tonight
we dine half way across the world. Many fields of employment
a decade ago, closed to the youth of the day, are now open and
expanding, while others are becoming over-crowded. There is
an increased demand for skilled, semi-skilled and qualified
workers; the technician; the specialist. The career girl has
appeared on the scene. She is here to stay. In such an age,
the challenge to the young is unique, opportunities legion.
However, greater demands, spiritually, morally, physically
and intellectually will be made on cur teenagers. They will be
expected to use wisely the greater measure of 'freedom to
choose' that will be theirs. They will be required to make
decisions, accept the attendant consequences and shoulder
responsibility. If they are to fulfill these expectations and to
take their rightful place in this changing society, occupying it
fully and well, high standards of social and moral conduct, and
of education are prerequisites. They must be grounded in
obedience and integrity; guided into disciplined thinking and
action, rather than allowed to emulate the latest fad; brought
to the realisation and given a working knowledge of the impli-
cations of making decisions; taught the importance of loyalty
and faithfulness, duty and responsibilities, in family life, for
happy homes mean a happy society.
I remember my grandfather as my ideal of 'consideration
for others,' 'of affection', of 'ability to listen, encourage and
advise', of 'firm correction without nagging', who taught by
wise withholding, the valuable lesson "You cannot have all you
want when you want it." What strengths and weaknesses do
our children see in our character? What is the measure of our
authority in the home? I remember 'a curfew' that had to be
kept; the 'May I' instead of the 'I am' of today; I remember
with keen enjoyment "The story hour' for moral and religious
instruction. But I see now that revolt against Victorian sever-
ity has gone so far in some quarters that lax discipline is pro-
ducing problem children. Without reverting to severity and
prudery, let us maintain a positive attitude to deep spiritual
and moral values that our teenagers might develop well balanced
and rounded personalities and not founder on the rock of com-
Youth has its ambitious dreams, its ideals and its problems,
which must not be under-estimated nor ignored. One way to
picture the situation graphically is to see them strung out on a
trail up a mountainside. Some, having pitched their tents,
have given up the idea of climbing higher, while others are
resting awhile, later to make the final assault on the summit.
There are several precipitously steep points, where few can
pass at a time. Between those difficult passages are broad
gentle inclines with large numbers resting. They have arrived.
Some find it beyond their capacity to go further, while others
are unable to maintain the position attained, and are retreating
down the mountainside. Going downwards can be even more
painfully difficult than going upwards. That is the position of
our teenagers -aspirations, a vision, starting the climb, resting,
Let us examine the existing pattern of society to see if it
presents problems to our teenagers. Every society reveals a
pattern of stratification more or less well defined. There has
always been a group at the top that ran things-mostly a confi-
dent, energetic, ambitious group, well-educated, working with
fairly large organizations or the government and the remainder
professionals. They are the active civic boosters. Then, there
is a supporting class of workers, outside the area of decision.
Trends reveal that formerly there was a marked difference, but
today there is a lessening contrast in the material way of life
between these groups. Formerly 'brain' or 'clean' work though
non-productive was glorified and sought after. But now, the
technically skilled are sought after, hundreds of occupations
are emerging, and productive jobs are coming in for prestige.
The supporting classes are conscious of this.
Further, there is an increase in moving about of the popu-
lation resulting in social status being established less and less
by family background. The individual is judged on the cur-
rent visible factors of his own actions and reactions, standards
of behaviour, code or morals and so on-something the teenager
away from home should remember. With this geographical
mobility, choosing the proper address seems uppermost in the
mind today, meanwhile creating a social problem for the teen-
ager. "Will I be accepted here?"
What are the subconscious motives in building up new
neighborhoods? Each community has its own way of decid-
ing where the elite can be found. There is another factor-
people prefer to live near others as much like themselves as
possible. Ralph Bodek, an American builder, adds a dis-
heartening thought to that. "They do not seem interested in
the possibility of new stimulating associations with people dif-
ferent from themselves".
What is the problem in this context? Class distinction. It
begins in the cradle. Parents of one class warn their children
not to play with 'people like that' 'they are not our kind'.
Parents of another class try to prepare the child for the re-
buffs they know will come 'you're as good as anyone' 'don't go
where you are not wanted'. And so it goes on. Children, who
if left to themselves would have sorted things out far more
intelligently, on a basis of similar interests, experiences and
joys shared, rather than on class. How does our educational
system meet this problem? Does it resolve, nurture, or cope
with it? If we face it, schools reflect the class feelings of the
teaching staff and of parents. By the time the youngsters
reach secondary school they are intensely aware of the social
status of their class mates, the togetherness of the various
groups, the exclusiveness of cliques. Later this difference
becomes marked when the interest in the other sex begins. It
is not just intelligence, or difference in standards of codes,
behaviour, or dress that set up the barriers, initiates rejection
and keep the youngsters apart. Often it is just class. If
democracy is to be a reality in our nation, it should start in
the schools. We should bear in mind that the 'meanness of
class distinctions' is more painfully felt during school years
than during any other period of people's lives. It can mar
what should be the happiest period of the youngsters' lives,
and feed roots' of bitterness that later bring forth evil fruit.
Let us not forget that we are all equal in God's sight, and that
these teenagers will have to live and work together with one
purpose in mind-the building of a nation.
Taking a glance at our mountain-side picture, we cannot
ignore the problems of those, who have rested near the bottom,
or those on the downward climb. Frustration, unfilled am-
bition, misdirected and unrewarded effort, would be evident.
What inner strength have they? What hope left to light the
remaining way? As they face the crises of life would they be
aggressively hostile through remembered injustices and being
ill-equipped for the climb through no fault of their own?
To combat this I think progress lies in the direction of
'turning inward' rather than 'outward' for inspiration in the
creation of one's homestead. Economic and social conditions
should enable the home of every one to be properly the private
and very individual haven it ought to be. A place where the
youth of every class could be fashioned and shaped by en-
couragement and guidance; given a feeling of security, of
being loved and appreciated; taught the value of self-respect;
of how to live with themselves without boredom or ennui, by
cultivating interests outside of 'the job'; the importance of
hobbies whether recreational or educational; enthused with the
idea of their capacity to make a worthwhile contribution to
society in even the smallest sphere of activity; thereby building
up inner reserves-spiritual, moral, and intellectual that they
might face the crises of life with equanimity and dignity. It
is quite possible for a country to have poverty without much
delinquency, and another to have great wealth and a high in-
cidence of delinquency. Let usE fight the tendency of politicians
to treat ethnic and economic groups as blocs and to base their
campaign on assembling a winning combination of blocs. Let
us not accent this frightening headlong trend toward social
stratification by residential area-we might well take pattern
from Surinam. But, instead, let us help to build a sound
economic and social structure with equal opportunity for all.
Greater industrialisation in the near future promises for
the teenager of every class, with a good education, a situation
where several pressures will be working for more fluidity,
more openness, and more upward mobility rather than rigid-
ness, in our social structure. Namely, an increasing population
presents opportunities for opening up and settling new com-
munities. The higher birth rate in the supporting classes'
group gives that group greater potentiality per family for
seizing opportunities. Immigrants will be constantly coming in
at the bottom of our society. This would tend to push upward
in the status scale those who were here before. At the same
time, immigration can be selective; skilled workers, technicians,
professionals, etc., would enter on a lateral level rather than
at the bottom. Technological progress will be the greatest
factor in upward mobility. The trend to acquire specialized
pre-job schooling as seen in our Technical Institute of today,
will be intensified in the tomorrows. There will be the elimina-
tion of stepping-stone jobs in office and factory, therefore the
youngsters must be trained and qualified at all levels, if they
are to seek promotion.
With greater industrialisation, thousands of families will
be better off and getting somewhere, but many social problems
would arise. Choice of life partner could be a serious one.
Upward mobility can put a severe strain on the marriage of
one who is less skilled than the other in taking on new habits,
new ways of life, attitudes and friendships. Our young people
move across the horizon-commerce, executive posts; politics,
ministerial posts; the professions; positions of authority; each
with its varied demands and responsibilities, with standards of
conduct to be upheld. How tragic 'as one moves up and out,
the other is left behind'. This can produce tensions, insecurity
and rootlessness in their off-spring, who find themselves in
new situations beyond their emotional depth. Our teenagers
must be capable of recognizing and resolving these problems.
Two principal approaches seem to emerge-one is to pro-
mote more understanding between people of the various class
groupings in our society, for it has been established that
genuine acquaintance (rather than slight acquaintance) lessens
prejudice. The other is to lessen the burden of a class dis-
tinction by ensuring that those with real talent are discovered
and encouraged to fulfill their potential, regardless of their
station in life.
Education should be the enlightened measure for stratify.
ing our society and not tradition, ancestry, nor family wealth.
Our youths must realise that aspirations do not end in futility,
but those who have capabilities will be allowed to rise.
If they experience non-reward for their educational achieve-
ments, we can only expect disillusion and radicalism to be-
come more prevalent. If education is the main key to a higher
status of life, its availability to all becomes an essential, so
that the educational have-nots of today would at least have the
hope that their children could succeed through education.
But much brain power is going to waste in our supporting
classes because the cost of higher education is beyond their
means. Low motivation, caused by an environment of resigna-
tion to prevailing conditions is another factor in the 'no in-
centive' to higher education. Like their parents' "getting by"
is their motivating force. The incentive is to earn at an early
age in order to buy the things they always wanted but were
denied. This is also largely responsible in some cases for a
lack of a sense of true values and misplaced accents on material
things that earn them the name of thriftless.
If the talent of our young people is to be channelled and
made available for the challenging years ahead, there must be a
movement toward intelligent guidance in the choice of career,
and courses of study by well informed career counsellors, to
prevent overcrowding in some fields; to meet fully the needs
in expanding fields; and to eliminate dead-ends and blind alleys
which lead to frustration and waste of valuable years. The
number of scholarships now available must be greatly in-
creased; loans and grants must be made in proportion to the
income of the parents. There must be facilities for further
education, higher education and adult education at all levels.
We must broaden the channels of access to higher education,
bringing it within the reach of those qualified for it. Business
enterprises are demanding higher qualifications, therefore they
should accept the responsibility to help ambitious, capable
people already with their company to get that degree of tech-
nical skill required for promotion. Demba and Bookers are
already leading the way but we need far more to be done both
by industrialists and by government.
These questions deserve the earnest attention of our reli-
gious leaders, our business leaders, our government leaders, and
our educational leaders. Each has a heavy burden of respon-
sibility, in achieving the goal of a genuine circulation of talent
if the noble ambitions and aspirations of the youth of our land
are to be realized and they are to occupy fully and well their
rightful place in a changing society.
'Limit not thy children to thine own ideas. They are
born in a different time". The Talmud.
Limit not. Sound advice that could be augmented by ques-
tioning how often we pass on not only our own ideas but our
own limitations to our children. In our earnest attempt to in-
troduce them to a way of life we have led, we tend to imply
that our findings should be the base upon which their lives are
to be built. Often it is only as a young adult that we break
the web of family limitations. It is then that resentment, an
excess of experimentation, can change drastically the course
of a career.
If we have had the advantage of education we try to show
our children how it has enriched our lives. Too frequently we
do not tell them of all we ignored and the opportunities we
On the other hand, having had no chance for education,
does the parent see beyond the struggle for survival and hope
to instil in his children a desire to learn? Should this "differ-
ent time" mean that education will be made universally avail-
able then we may expect that the mass of the next generation
will challenge the world. The zeal of the converted is limitless.
One can no longer approach the debate "Do the children
of today enjoy better opportunities than we had when we were
growing up ." from the comfortable plateau of the intellect-
ual middle class. But we shall start from there. In the home,
this group traditionally cultivated an atmosphere that fostered
respect for knowledge, often stressing the merit of pure rather
than applied knowledge.
The pace of modern life has disrupted this pattern. Mod-
ern communications have broken the insular home atmosphere
and added numerous forceful distractions for the young .
from ease of transportation to the mixed bag of films and tele-
Religion became a weakened link particularly in the post
First War period. And to the new generation of the mid-twen-
tieth century the god of applied science showed his impressive
Discipline in the family unit has tended to become explicit
rather than implicit. A young child desires discipline; an
older one learns through respect to accept it and through ex-
perience to challenge it. In ethnic groups where the family
unit has remained close knit, the bonds of authority remain
firm, in a traditional pattern. In societies such as the North
American, where this pattern has been abdicated, there appears
to be a search for that which has been lost. Religion this
same "weakened link" in one context is the ground being
explored most earnestly. For the youth of today holding a
belief that was sought after may prove more comforting, in a
world faced with nuclear destruction, than the superimposed
beliefs of an authoritarian tradition.
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science
is blind", said Albert Einstein. As a parent with young chil-
dren today I feel that they face a unique situation. For the
first time in history the world is quite literally insecure. The
void is' real, and the annihilation of every aspect of civilization
is frighteningly possible. To find a balance, any sense of
security, they must have a religious belief, a faith in some
supreme being. The form or dogma that this religion takes
is not important. What is important is that their knowledge
increaseS, they can remain humanists, even in a scientific era.
Next on my list of requirements is that my children be
encouraged to be curious. If they are curious, and are given
the opportunity for education, they will not be limited by par-
ental limitations, by environment or by the spectre of scientific
destruction. How much of our present world problem can we,
as a generation, and that before us, blame on passivity? If our
children are curious they will not be passive.
At home we can strengthen our children with love; try to
make them personally secure in their family surroundings.
Surely this has been the armour parents throughout time have
given their young.
The days of my childhood and adolescence were spent in
the years leading up to the nineteen twenties, but realising how
much change there has been, one might be thinking back for a
century or more.
Children today have a great deal more freedom and oppor
tunity, but on the whole I wonder if they are any better for it ?
or whether they have lost a great deal too, because of the ways
in which life has evolved? Perhaps it works out to a fairly
I do not think that my home in England was any more
strict than most of that day, neither were my parents ardent
members of the church, but there were certain standards of
behaviour expected and enforced. When visitors were present
it was not a case of "children being seen and not heard" for we
were taught to greet them and converse with them, but we were
not expected to raise our voices and monopolise the conversa-
tion as many youngsters do today, to the plaudits of their par-
At all times there was an understanding that we went to
bed at a reasonable hour and even in my later teens, I remem-
ber my parents did not allow me to be out beyond 9.30 p.m. un-
less for some very special occasion. I think the difference there
was that the home was regarded as central and although we
were encouraged to have friends and to go out with them, we
had to give an account of where we were going; I feel that chil-
dren today often miss the guidance which they should receive
in this connection.
My father would take note of the books we brought into
the home and would tell us if he considered them unsuitable
for us to read; and similarly, we went only occasionally to the
cinema and then to a carefully selected film. As I look back,
I believe the general censorship of those days was far more
rigid than it is today and certainly most parents imposed their
own after that. It does seem a pity that so many films which
give a wrong impression of real life, should be passed for gen-
eral exhibition and that so many children have easy access to
as many of them as they wish to see. Surely it is in this way
that very wrong conceptions of life are built up.
Part of the problem is probably created by the fact that
some children do have a good deal of pocket money and that
there is no enquiry as to how it is spent. I remember that
the amount of pocket money I had was quite small, yet I had
to give a rough account of how it had been spent not as to
an inquisitor, but rather to one who was concerned and wanted
to know what were my chief interests.
Another part of my early training, for which I have always
been very thankful, was to save for anything I particularly
wanted. "Easy come, easy go" is a true proverb and many chil-
dren do not value what they have, because it has been given
them merely for the asking. To learn the excitement of sav-
ing, perhaps for many weeks, in order to buy some specially
desired item, is to experience something of lasting value. The
same applies to a child's clothes. It is true that clothing worn
in England is rather different to that worn in these parts-it
is heavier and more expensive, but often today, one finds chil-
dren having little or no regard for their clothes and treating
them most carelessly. The general attitude towards property
of this kind is often unsatisfactory; and the same can be said
of things which are borrowed. I remember being taught that
whatever was borrowed, whether from a friend or from a pub-
lic authority such as a library or school, must be treated with
even more care than one's own belongings; and further, that
as soon as it was finished with, it must be returned, with thanks
to the lender. A good many difficult situations and bad feel-
ings which arise today between one person and another, could
be avoided if this teaching was given. Unfortunately, there is
too often a complete disregard for another's property and not
only is it badly treated but sometimes it is lost, or at best, is
not returned until the owner asks for it. Young people who
grow up with this careless attitude will hardly develop a sense
of responsibility to fit them for taking their place in life.
I have also noted a lack of this sense of responsibility in
some Club work. I remember that when I belonged to a Youth
Club, the members took pride in looking after everything, the
room, the properties, the refreshments and so on: feeling that
they were indeed the hosts to visitors and the stewards in
charge. This same attitude does exist in some Clubs today and
happy are the young people who are growing up with a con-
sciousness that they are in charge; but in some instances, too
much is done for them by well-meaning older folks and so the
valuable lessons in responsibility are being lost.
It is right and good that young people today should have
ever increasing opportunities of furthering their education, of
building stronger bodies and of expressing their views, for these
are the days when Youth is already taking the helm. But let
those who are parents and teachers and leaders of young
people see that a right standard is set before them, for the
world does not only need people of brains and ability but it
needs those who have a true regard for moral values and who
will stand for the principles which they know to be right.
What is different about the youth of today from the youth
of yesterday? Are they really different? Why should we
of the clder generation worry about them? Perhaps it is true
that every generation frowns on its youth and tells them they
are going to the dogs. "Things are not what they were in my
young days!" Does not that have a familiar ring? Is it, per-
haps a sign of old age, when we begin to think the younger
generation is incompetent, irresponsible, less capable of man-
aging the world's affairs than we were at their age?
Perhaps we have cause to worry. Is it not our generation
which has landed present day youth in this mess? If the youth
of today is not at all certain where it is going, were we any
more certain? We received a legacy of uncertainty ourselves.
Old ideas of the last century were being abandoned. Science
was making enormous strides-and the general outlook was,
at the best, agnostic. We cannot know the ultimate truth, so
what is the use of trying? Nothing is lasting. Nothing is
eternal, or, at least it cannot be proved to be, and there are no
ultimate values. "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking
makes it so". From this position it was easy to drift into
thinking that "what helps my country is right", or "there
is no ultimate right and wrong, so let us glean what we can,
for tomorrow we die". What a philosophy!
From this chaos many have had to pick up any truths we
could see, and try to hammer out a new philosophy. Things
turn out not to be so material, not so cut and dried, as we sup-
posed. Perhaps there was room after all for the unseen, un-
provable eternal things. Perhaps science did not have the final
answer. We have seen scientific ideas change as the years
passed. The so-called conflict between science and religion
has dissolved, but an uneasy feeling remains, and most of us
are still reading the old books. We realise that religion is a
man's driving force but what is he to believe? How much
remains after we have pulled everything to pieces?
Now the new generation has to find its philosophy just as
we did, but their attack will be different. They are different
from the last generation as every generation differs from the
one before. There are more of them, and they have, on the
whole, less parental guidance. In some ways they have vastly
more opportunities. The best literature is within reach of
everyone. Anyone with sufficient native intelligence can
receive a suitable education. The things we fought for, the
opportunities for education, higher pay, better houses, better
health, more food, equality of the sexes; they have all come.
And now we have them they are apt to be taken for granted.
The question is, will the youth of today be equipped to
seize the opportunity? Will it be able to see that every new
privilege brings new duties? I think it is going to be hard for
those who had to fight for a place to stop fighting for them-
selves, and begin to think of others. Yet it is perhaps the most
important step of all. Multitudes of young people are now
about to find themselves in a position of privilege they have
never known. I wonder whether they will know how to use it,
or whether they will fail for lack of moral leadership, and frit-
ter away their new birthright. The older privileged classes had
the traditions of the administration of wealth and authority.
It was a stewardship, inculcated by generations of what was,
in effect applied christian principles. The new ruling class is
going to need such a tradition to guide them.
I believe there is tremendous potentiality in the B. G. youth
of today. They are more healthy, and in many ways better
educated than their forebears. But they are going to need
strong moral guidance and leadership, for we cannot wait for
them to learn by their failures. Far and away the most im-
portant influence is or should be the home. There are few
growing pains in a happy, well-run home, where the parents
are interested in their children, responsible and respected. It
is the broken home which produces the misfits, the neglected
children who fail to find their proper place in society.
We of the older generation must do our duty by the youth
of today. We must provide the environment and opportuni-
ties they need for proper physical and spiritual development
as future leaders of society. It is not the nature of man to be
good, and no generation will be better than its forebears by
merely growing up. What are we doing about it? The pat-
tern of our youth's development must be set by us. If we do
no do it, nobody else will.
Cloudcapped on the tallest building
In a city Metropolitan.
Beneath atoms in vision's orbit.
The seashore, a woman she laughs
Babble of brooks on being's floor.
Above, a squadron -
Around and about us
Bombs stick unexploded.
In a wood to a pagan ritual
Old one-eyed and grey and bloodsmeared
A severed head is presented.
I dreamed this dream long long ago
I took ship's wings I flew.
Blessed by the rich and everliving heavens
I crossed the vats of ooean's elegance
Surfaced on distance shores
Oyster pearl searching . .
Summer'd on the sun's disc.
At the feet of the world's heart
Lace-edged gent y billowed
A hem of the first morning.
Ah was a sun's summer
Beneath the loft of rare London's sky.
Slow drift of pain is my currency
Upon me asphalted are time's wrongs
Bend, break or fall I will not
But like all the earth's trees
Will flower to Pacific manhood
A lion and an angel
Astride the strand of time.
Like autumn leaves in the wind
Are stones drifting
in my world's ruin.
But the coalescence of perceptions disparate
Is a prism of pristine illuminations.
Eolithic in the sunlight's
Man and his world.
Truth's Judas in History's
A raw sore
A filament of radiations obnoxious.
0 in the unchartered waters of my deep
rivers of silences await their Columbus.
THE AGONY OF ICARUS
(PRAYS TO THE MUSE)
There are certain laws that are infallible
My death the day of my death
And the unknown.
A virgin conceived without knowledge
Thus I am
And silent as speechless stone.
Cherry and apple blossoms
Green deep deep green
Gates open and close
Glimpses are irreverent
The temple of silence is projected
Then withdrawn, withdrawn and projected
0 elusive, I flounder in exasperation.
My eyes see
God-like all I comprehend
But heart is a closed gate.
And the immediacy of perception
Is the shadow of sundown
Darkness and night
Voiceless the heavens
Voiceless the unfathomable
Only the jagged rocks
Vulgar in the daylight
Only the daylight
On jagged shining rocks.
Rags of waste and of desolation.
The soul sleeps and the spirit
Is unready is unwilling
Eli Eli Lama Sabathani.
In fens and marshes
I have lost my way
And life has become
Unto me a stone.
Henceforth these reins
I hitherto usurping
Into your hands surrender
For uterus's ejection's
A virgin voyage of shipwreck
And all roads outward
Point towards home
The rediscovery of Genesis and Eden's soul.
A white bird miracling its way sunwards
Till the barbed fences and Azoics of pillory
Stretched shorn and barren fields unending.
Mother look to thy son, son look to thy mother.
O let them shine the stars and dairy fields
On the colliery of my pain
My cross of dispossession.
Into thy hands I commend my spirit.
Spirit of the Sea Wall
By WILSON HARRIS
I stood on the wall of Godstown facing the maternal for-
gotten sea; the ocean had always been grey and sorrowful
here lapping the wall guarding a buried city. Like a heavy
spotted shawl the sea had always blown restlessly and churned
furiously on the beach and ground before Godstown.
I stood in my habitual place, with sudden alarm and con-
sternation beholding the sea as if for the first time higher than
the city's ground: the blowing restless flag and shawl was all
around me and about. Indeed the wind blew anxious sea-spray
upon me wrapping my empty trouser-legs around my scarecrow
feet. I felt I was a ghost standing in a vain exposed position,
the true everlasting spirit blew on one hand, and an archaic
roadway and field stood on the other; the field stretched a full
mile away and the traffic of Godstown crawled at the distant ex-
tremity. My alarm grew on beholding my toy city, the mechan-
ics of an old buried town, buried long, long ago it seemed be-
neath the flag of the sea. Buried so deep I had had to excavate
alien and higher ruins to find it. And now that it was seen,
and empoldered, and guarded at last, I was filled with such
alarm. Which Godstown was it indeed I beheld beneath the
sea, was it the first or the last? Ruin after ruin was its fable
and history. And a grave displaced verticality was its haunt-
ing alarming and ruinous and confused place and position.
I raised my scarecrow head and stood braced against the
first and the last sea-wall confused by the blowing wind and
sea. I wondered whether I should feel proud to stand this way
-not knowing truly where I stood-threatened by the ancient
sea and shawl and mother of man. I knew my defences would
sooner or later be rendered useless. I had driven new sticks
and shafts to secure my foundations and situation, a gaunt
scarecrow standing before the sea. All was slipping slowly into
the ruinous well: at last nothing remained save my cocked hat,
blown a little to one side, resting perilously on the sea-wall. It
was so sopping and wet it had acquired weight to stand against
the spirit in the wind. A mythos began to grow and appear
around my cocked puddle and head. The first Godstown
marched forward in space and looked backwards with the rain-
ing eye of constellations and stars. The last Troy stood on
Argo's mythical beam or upon another equally drenched con-
stellation in the heavens. No ruinous wall and grave could con-
tain my cocked hat of such dimensions. The wind and sea blew
steadily into and out of my head. An old woman was approach-
ing: she was mumbling to herself beneath the sea's shawl. She
came to me and lifted my shopping hat and head like a child
cradled in the sea's hands. I felt the wind blowing in the roof
of my skull hither and thither as she cocked my head upon her
She was one of that curious sea of beggar-women, patrol-
ling Godstown like conscience and muse, who floated and
devoured pennies and scraps. She knew how to hug the debris
of the world to her bosom. She mumbled and sagged and
moaned to my cocked scarecrow hat- I know you wouldah fall
down. Neither man nor god can fight the sea forever and for
good. You don't know that? Sooner or later the old lady got
to get you ." She was mumbling all the time a little crazily.
The wind in heaven tried to blow my hat off her head but
she held it fast with her grey seas' hand that smelt of salt-fish
and rum. The rank suffocating odour rose and almost de-
voured my head and her nostrils too, I felt. The seas' cruel
death-smell grew wholesome and life-giving again as though life
had turned to death and then returned to life again.
"Me hands smell and taste like if they dead and they living
still", she mumbled, a little crazily again. "They hold life and
death over and over again", she said, "that's why they smell-
ing and tasting so. I borning and I burying man all the time:
I is an old mother and a young bride rolled into one". She
cackled with a sea-bird's swift racing cry.
She grew mournful and silent, looking anxiously towards
the horizon. "I wonder why me man hang up he hat and he
clothes pon a cross-stick deh?" she suddenly cried to me and
to herself in one cunning breath. She continued in the same
cackling strain-"He lef' this behind like a fool's head and skin
to show he risking he neck all the time for the fun of it. I
can't understand he at-all at-all". She spoke with a baiting
"Who is he?" I whispered shrieking and shrill where the
wind whistled in the crevices of my cocked hat and skull. "No-
body here but me and you",
"Is me dream man lef' you behind, old cocked hat on a stick,
is me wild loving fisherman, me adventuring child, me flesh is
he gone flesh, me blood is he spilled blood", she cried, a sea-
gull's incomprehensible ghostly cry. Her appearance turned
romantical and voluptuous. A magical bewitching change had
occurred. She straightened her back. The wind and water
blew and filled her limbs and bosom generously. Every wringle
puffed and vanished and her eyes widened and sparkled. I saw
her full breasts rising and swellling beneath my starred and
cocked hat. The smell in her sea-self no longer revolted but
turned keen as a knife slicing the air.
Is I mek me gone lover's Christ cocked hat into every
ghost of a stick and a shell like you"-she rolled her eyes to-
ward her swelling thighs in the sea.
The wind blew and the seas heaved and turned. I suddenly
realized an important crowd stood on the sea-wall confronting
the curious horror and the spectacle. They saw a vulgar old
woman, the wind and sea billowing and distending her drowned
dress, and they saw my cocked scarecrow hat stuck rakishly
on her skull. It was a common sight and yet it disturbed them
to the very marrow. The sea had risen high near the top of
the wall and over at times when it had swept the cocked hat
from where it had first fallen and blown.
One of the men in the crowd stretched forward and tried
to reach the billowing woman in the sea but she tossed and
danced and evaded him, nearly dislodging my cocked hat. The
man's empty face grew greyer than ever with horror and the
sea. "She's dead", he cried, unable to encompass any other
My old cocked hat bowed to the sea-wall.
Selling pineapple is her art
Sad old woman pushing cart
Near Dutch Stabroek every day
You can find her minding tray
Full of sunripe 'Quibo pine
"Come an' buy me God-ripen pine I"
When the sun is hot and gold
OP woman get a lot of pineapple sold
Rich lady come with palmolive skin
Then the bargaining fun begin
Rich woman probably good at heart
But she got to bargain to play the part
So while silver shilling bursting her purse
She letting fly with less pence than curse
And old woman with her age and pine
Have to cut the price down fine'
So she squatting down beside she tray
Twelve hard hours by the end of she day
Pineapple ripe smelling sweet of sun
Turning she belly by the time day done
Dollar fifty profit from the fat gold pine
If a day make so much she doing fine
And go down Stabroek in Maytime rain
Look for that old pine woman again
She old grey dress bursting away
Rotting and fade in the rains of May
But she under the branch of a saman tree
Still working out she destiny
Selling pines from 'Quibo fat and gold
Until the heart inside she chest get cold
Forty years by Stabroek rain and shine
Sad old woman selling pine
And when she dead by a 'Quibo charcoal pit
Nobody bother or care one shit
She was buying pine to sell in the morning
But she never reach to sell that morning
Stabroek looks the same old way
In suns of March or rains of May.
SON ASLEEP-AGED SIX MONTHS"
Before our own sleep of passion, dreams, and clocks
Warm wife and my proud self watch by his sovreign bed,
Over the child our smiling eyes like emperor's shine,
In his warm life our hopes spring tall as spears
Pray God he find a destiny well-designed.
Against the terrific future how can he sleep so soft?
He is not golden-armed, he is not tall or strong
So gently born, so sweetly grown, so calm
He rests soft beyond birth only half a year
Deathless he must be, no pains will visit him
He breathes quiet as white leaves of moonlight
His fist clenches like a young rose in his sleep
My son's face is serious for peace and good intent
His small heart is burning like a star.
That is not so, he is not safe forever
Death rages in man's bones all the days he lives
My son's not singular, death rages in him too.
Long time to come, long years past this proud present watching
He will find agonies enough, he will be hurt
The flesh kingly is but kings' dethronement comes
Yet let him sleep so soft as this
Give him some sweet preliminary of life
Do not warm him too soon of cruelties and sleepless lusts
The bribery of habits, red wounds, the iron nations' wars.
In this raw age of jealous total moods
When men soon march to orders behind dogmatic whims
We watch and deeply love and we determine this :
Take childhood's time and make a dream of it.
MAIS OF JAMAICA
His own life died but he has not truly died.
There, man I Look, look at him, the writing man,
Muscles of Jamaica's hills carved in his face,
His skin coloured above the blood in brown drought sun,
His hands strong like a carpenter's, his eyes strong,
His work strong, his writing a good thing for his land.
His theme was the terrific future of the poor
Commonplace and powerful as the sea's green weight
Do not forget him in your ordinary days
See his paintings there gaunt as starved oxen
He put his hand to them in no search for praise.
His own life died but he has not truly died.'
Man, you have seen a great tree put to the flame
How it roars up red as blood above the land
And nothing will stop the red and fiery tree
Until the red flames eat the tree-heart out.
And then it dies, it dies, the good fire dies
But no dying can put the glory out.
So I Touch his life, your heart burns like a fire-tree.
THE TWO SHORES
Who knew these shores one day to me would come
Like home-spread carpet soft and cosy, smug;
Who knew my sun would kiss a sky blue-dyed,
And languid life on soft savannahs slug.
........There the days are dusty blazing flames,
Mercury climbing hundred seventeen;
Monsoons break in maddening tropic pour;
December dawn with dusky winters keen.
The change of seasons hangs there like a chain
Round a country's bumping harvest-heaves;
Village belles swing on songs of rain;
Farmers garner golden autumn sheaves.
Toilsome soil, though soft, yet dry as dust;
Blazing white noons melt in copper eves;
Nights bedazzled with a starry fray,
A new-born day a hope.born blessing gives.
Here the lazing barometer rots
By swinging hammocks, rocking to and fro;
Twixt ninety-eighty ambling mercury moves
Hamlet like, to go on or not to go.
Speed and hurry, haste and struggling life,
Empty outcasts from these careless shores;
Crowds, and elbow space through civic strands
Unknown here; life's Halcyon sinecures.
Shades of cane-fields, easeful trenches long;
Patchy fields where brown cassava bores;
Winy creeks where alligators bask:
Nut-brown maidens bathe on sleepy shores.
Fanning travellers' trees preserve a drink;
The easeful South Winds swing banana groves;
Nights ooze love that talks in starry winks,
And bring solace to dozing cattle droves.
The ferer'd soil pants in heavy breaths
Out along the broad .savnanahs old
Sticky mud, and blade-sharp razor-grass
Forbid a march to Eldorado's gold.
Who knew my beads of life would seattter here,
Here asunder on the palmy sands;
Who knew to pick and string them back to form
Scarce would care this pair of listless hands.
To be, to feel, and roll in waves of dope,
To feel a steady feelinglessness creep
Over will, life, love, determination, hope,
Is innui that lulls all life to sleep.
Sleep, eternal, that's the aim of life;
That's the post where all this toil would end.
If so, why not now, here, forget
The long long road, and the turn around the bend.
THE 63 BEACH
This grey beach
Washed by muddy grey waters
Rumbles day and night.
From far savannahs
And distant Orialla,
Tiger falls, Akarai and Kanuku
The Corentyne brings her homage
And her revenue
Of twigs, brown sands, nut-shells,
And feathers of drowned birds;
Of tons and tons of silt;
-And this firm beach is made.
And we rejoice.
We play on this beach.
Firm and wide
It stretches on and on.
On Sunday, holidays,
Men, women, children,
In gay colours,
Drink, sing, play and drive.
A happy, full, lively noise of the crowd
Mixes with the deep
Constant, far away roll of the Atlantic.
The silt accumulates.
New land grows every day.
This crowd hardly feels gratitude for
The tributes of distant
Orialla, Akarai and Kanuku.
Soil of golden ends.
Her widow sighs groan is raped loneliness,
Her widow sighs fill hungry horizons.
In foetal depth of dreams, in virginal secretiveness,
Grain by grain,
In joy, health, life and fragrance of being,
In sublime self-sacrifice,
Grain by grain evolve golden dreams.
Dreams of golden strains, golden stalks, golden sheaves,
Grow like many coloured soap bubbles,
Spread from here to far,
from hut to heaven,
from present to posterity,
from ancestors to descendants,
from Guiana to China and Ind.
In shaping those golden sheaves, the golden dreams,
Have gone many young nights and old days,
many centimes and sentiments,
many drops of dews asleep on lids of night's droop-
many kisses of forgotten stars,
many prayers of hybernating roots,
many and many atoms and molecules,
striving to get together into an irresistible shape.
Then the golden dreams stoop with heavy bearings
From end to end of a prolific soil.
Come the hands;
Hands of the covetous,
of the greedy,
of those who thieve by law, and plunder without it.
Hands of the hungry one-eyed Polephemus
Start the harvest,
And cut the golden dreams,
Cut the bending sheaves,
The loaded sheaves,
And collect them,
And carry to yawning bonds,
To proud granaries, to mad store-houses,
To gluttonous banks and sickening millioneering masters.
That green luscious soil,
Those life growing acres,
Lie now widowed in deadly peace,
And tomb-worthy coma.
Empty are the life cells.
Empty are the dreams.
The harvest is done;
While another spring broods.
By EDGAR MITTELHOLZER
Seeker & Warburg 16/-
In Thunder Returning, the second volume of the projected trilogy
upon which Edgar Mittelholzer is now engaged, we have a tragedy
following upon the comedy of manners which is the essence of Latticed
Echoes. The emphasis is no longer upon the "social follies" of the
characters, Richard and Lindy, but the author apparently takes as a
text the line from Hamlet-"this Way madness lies"-and provides a
study in imbalance leading to madness, arising from the obsessive
jealousy working in the mind of a pregnant mother. There are flashes
of Sophoclean pity and terror in the Oedipus cycle of plays, where
indiscipline and circumstance dehumanise an attractive personality.
But let me outline the story. Richard Lehrer, the Guianese archi-
tect with the German ancestry working in Georgetown, finds that both
his English wife and' the German wife of his friend, the English
Engineer, with whom he had an affair some months ago, are pregnant
by him at the same time. His wife Lydia cannot forget his unfaith-
fulness with Lindy her former friend and nurses her jealousy to a
pitch of hysteria which leads her to make an attempt upon the person
of Lindy to cause her to lose her baby. (This attempt is made when
Lindy comes to Georgetown from her home in New Amsterdam on a
visit with her husband, Tommy Rowleyson). It is now clear to Tommy
that he is sterile and he seeks solace in rum drinking and in orgies of
The author also engages on a parallel study of Tommy's disinteg-
ration by self-pity as he broods upon his lack of manhood and we have
an extraordinary picture of two households, seventy miles apart, in
occasional communication by letter and telephone with one another,
but the well-being of each progressively destroyed by cankers of
thoughts and memories. (This is what Blake meant when he wrote
the poem, "Oh, Rose thou art sick"). There are many complications
and eventually after Lindy is delivered of a boy and Lydia of a girl,
Lydia takes her own life in a fit of aberration while she is by herself
in hospital. Tommy is involved in a struggle to make the housemaid
drink with him and Lindy's baby has a fall which decides Lindy that
she must leave her husband.
The book is relieved by the introduction of a new character,
Richard's aunt, a spinster of 65, who has devoted her life to looking
after her father (now in his nineties) and finds that as her father
passes into his dotage and his death, increasingly he exhibits contempt
for her and this causes her to reassess her own sacrifice and dedica-
tion. Aunt Emily finds she is called upon to act as a mediator between
Richard and Lindy and to become a confidante and adviser to Lindy
in her trouble. This exposes her to the hostility of Lydia and the
peaceful backwater of her life is suddenly converted into a rapildy
seething maelstrom which forces her to make unaccustomed decisions.
Aunt Emily grows up before our very eyes, and it is her development
which to a certain extent makes the book bearable and relieves the
overall picture of disintegrating personalities. She stands for life
where nearly all the others stand for death. It is extraordinary how
the character of Aunt Emily becomes the main image of New Amster-
dam as the story progresses and how the leitmotiv which is herself in
the story ("tide turns..... .yearning years .... withering tensions
......sad birds chirp and twitter...... Crab Island.... ebbs......
Vrymen's Erven") becomes mellowed as she acts as mother confessor
and adviser in lives of greater complexity than her own. Life sud-
denly has purpose and this takes her mind off her own perpetual
analyses of failures.
As always with Edgar Mittelholzer, this is a book you must read
to the end as quickly as possible. The action and the dialogue are
compulsive. What might keep us back is this new technique of the
Leitmotiv. The author takes his technique from Wagner's "The Ring"
by describes the characters in the story by symbols. These passages
provide a pleasing musical effect and are adjuncts to the dialogue
which carries the complete story. The leitmotivs tell you, if you care
to study them, which characters are involved in a scene and often the
emotions and conflicts which you will find. But of course, no one
will study them and everyone will be inclined to run rapidly along the
compulsive story. It is surprising, however, how much we are con-
scious of towards the end of the book as we learn the hang of the
technique and as the story itself accumulates its tensions.
When the book is closed and we think back upon the effect, we
may be inclined to congratulate the author on the great (Germanic T)
industry he has displayed in the technique which we realise has been
there all the time, like music in the cinema, affecting our moods and
determining our responses. We will be grateful also for the "sec-
ondary dialogue" he has provided as scaffolding by way of the
thought-passages included in brackets.
Season of Adventure
by GEORGE LAMMING-
Michael Joseph 21/.
In this fourth novel of his, Lamming returns to the island
in the Caribbean which he has created, San Cristobal, and depicts the
life of the republic after it has attained its independence. Those
readers, who remember "Of Age And Innocence", will miss the long
vistas of the sea, and the turbulence of the court scenes shown in that
novel, for the geography has changed, or at least changed emphasis.
Here the attention is directed to the Forest Reserve which is the home
of barrackyard life and the place where the leaders of the steel bands
live and devote their talent and time to greater skill on the drums. The
island is an amalgam of the British Caribbean territories having Half
Moon Bay, Spanish Town, Belle View, Sam Lord's Castle, and the
mangrove swamps of Essequibo; but these districts are evoked only to
produce steel bands for the splendid and incredible march upon Inde-
pendence Square in protest against the Government's ban on steelband
music after the murder of the Vice-President.
The story of "Season of Adventure" is centred around the evolu-
tion of a girl born in the island who goes to a "ceremony of the souls"
(a rite in which the author merges Haitian voodoo with W. I. poco-
mania and obeah). The spirits possess her and she is a changed per.
son ever afterwards. The remainder of the novel is the account of
her search through the barriers of class to her unknown roots. Who
is her father, she asks, and what is the meaning of herself as a person ?
Her stepfather is the Commissioner of Police in the Republic and as a
result of her friendship with a painter from the Forest Reserve, she
becomes involved in the hunt for the murderer of the Vice-President.
To save the painter and his friends from being manhandled by the
angry police, she confesses to her stepfather that her own father may
have been the murderer, and so diverts the searchers to make their
focus upon a painting purporting to be that of her father. The steel-
bands are banned, but the ban is broken by a determined music-
hungry tenor who invites all the silent bands to play their way with
him to the centre of the capital. The long bridge to the city is manned
by police with gleaming bayonets, but at the last moment, the size of
the invading musical procession forces the authorities to countermand
the order to fire and this leads to the fall of the Government and the
election as President of a prototype of Eric Williams, Dr. Kofi Baako.
This is an exasperating book. At times it is beautifully written
with the compulsive cadence of Dylan Thomas, and at times it is
obscene in a non-Lady Chatterley way because of its emphasis on the
excrement of cats left deliberately upon the top of a polished table-
the significance in an amorous episode of the bursting of a boil on a
woman's bottom.. It is repellent also because of the author's Swiftian
and obsessional desire to ridicule and expose upper and middle class
foibles, discerned, over and above his championship of the steelband
leaders in the Forest Reserve. It is attractive because of the succcess-
ful comic touches such as that of the distressed Chief Justice's wife
overlooking the potential massacre by the police in Independence
Square, but keeping time, posteriorly, to the rhythm of the steel
bands marching in from the rural areas., So often the writing rises to
an admirable pitch of psychological analysis and style which places
Lamming in the forefront as a novelist writing in the English language,
and so often one is put off and exasperated by pettiness in the
author's outlook and what are perhaps personality failures. There is a
most improbable story of ambiguous parenthood (how Thomas Mann
would have contrived this!) and this reader is not convinced of the
acuteness of the psychological examination of feminine motives which
the novelist displays.
In the first half, under the wracked vision of the heroine, the
reader will feel that the author is playing with communication and
doesn't desire perhaps fully to be understood, but the integrity and
clarity of style in the second half is eminently successful.
Lamming's views on money, love, the drums as a symbol of W. I.
artistic endeavour, etc. are all set forth for what they are worth, but
what is new and valuable to my mind is the development of the comic
talent in proper West Indian style, not the urge to philosophical
What does he have to say on Independence as he follows the
fashionable timetable of colonial liberation and studies the situation in
Ghana. These views he gives to Dr. Baako, the President-designate-
"Independence is only a freedom to clear the air, to make the abortive
life you've known more livable; but it's then the problem of being
alive and trying to be alive in a state of freedom, it's only then the
problem begins .... .you can change constitutions overnight .... but
freedom or no, if that crowd even give way and go berserk, you cant
clean up the result of that madness overnight ..We've got to report
on what's out of place and attempt what must be done. The result can
be left to God or the Devil, or whatever agent chooses the contingen-
cies of our life."
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