Abandonment by God, “Bookers Guiana”, Church & State, Georgetown/Guyana, Guyanese-born Author & Poet Sir Wilson Harris, Poem “This is My Meditation” by Sir Wilson Harris, Pre-Columbian Art by Aubrey Williams, Unanswered prayer, Waiting on God
Dawn & Evening Star, Olmec Maya Series (1982) by Guyanese-born Artist Aubrey Williams
Source: October Gallery
On March 8th, Guyana’s illustrious literary writer, Sir Wilson Harris, died at the age of ninety-six in England where he had lived since 1959. Born in 1921 in New Amsterdam, British Guiana (now Guyana), Harris began his writing career as a poet, obtaining exposure through the colony’s literary magazine, Kyk-over-Al. My Poetry Corner April 2018 features one of these poems, “This is My Meditation,” published in 1947. Since I couldn’t find the original title of this poem, I’ve used the opening words as a substitute.
When he was two years old, Harris lost his father, “a well-off insurance businessman with a chauffeur-driven car.” His mother moved to the capital, Georgetown, and remarried. Six years later, tragedy struck again. His stepfather disappeared; believed drowned in the Interior.
“At almost the same time, I saw a beggar on a street corner, with holes in his face,” Harris tells Maya Jaggi (The Guardian, December 2006). “I came home and couldn’t eat – I never forgot that man.”
After completing his studies at Queen’s College, the prestigious secondary school for boys in Georgetown, Harris trained in land surveying and geomorphology. Beginning in 1942, his work as a government surveyor, charting the great rivers of the colony’s interior rainforest and savanna regions, changed his vision of man’s relation to the planet.
Balata Bleeders Shooting Rapids on the Cuyuni River, Interior of British Guiana (c.1908)
Source: Overtown Miscellany UK/John S Sargent
“The shock of contrasts in river, forest, waterfall had registered very deeply in my psyche,” Harris tells Fred D’Aguiar (Bomb Magazine, January 2003). “So deeply that to find oneself without a tongue was to learn of a music that was wordless, to descent into varying structures upon parallel branches of reality, branches that were rooted in a stem of meaning for which no absolute existed.”
Of equal importance was his discovery of pre-Columbian myth and history gained through his contacts with the indigenous peoples in the region.
In his poem, “This is My Meditation,” the young poet calls out what he sees as the cruelty of the Christian God in the treatment of His beloved son, Jesus, left alone to suffer the painful and humiliating death by crucifixion. Continue reading