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Between Silence and Silence

"From the vantage point of later middle life, Ian McDonald’s collection looks into the heart of time passing: the coming death of ageing parents, the old men, the ‘archive’ of a disappearing Guyana who die one by one, the sight of ‘my own lines of age’ and the loss of pleasure in the glittering carnival of the senses.


Ian McDonald
Date published
1 Dec 2003

There are rich blessings of the arrival of a new child coming unexpected at this stage of life; and the consolations from books and in the power of art to preserve - at least for a time. But the very joys are made more piquant by the inescapable sense of the transitoriness of all things. 
Poems of moving domestic intimacy and humour (‘To alarm their father’s half to death/New-born babies hold their breath’), valedictory requiems for the characters who have given Georgetown life its flavour and regret for the country’s loss of civility during its darkest recent years and songs in praise of nature are all part of a vision which looks into the darkness but says, ‘Yes, it is as you say,/ But let us get just one thing straight:/ There is beauty in the world/ ... And the star-tree blossoms in the night,/Night that will have an end’ and asserts, ‘Between silence and silence, there should be only praise.’

Ian McDonald is Trinidadian by birth and Guyanese by long residence and adoption. He is the author of the recently filmed The Hummingbird Tree, four collections of poetry and a play. He edits Kyk-over-Al.

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Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald was born in Trinidad in 1933. After attending school in Port of Spain he went to university in Cambridge to read History. He was a gifted tennis player and captained both the Cambridge and the West Indies Davis cup team. He first went to Guyana in 1955 and has lived there ever since.

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