I remember, I must have been fourteen or fifteen, when I first heard the poem ‘Prayer before birth’ penned by Louis MacNeice. My English teacher at the time may not have realised it, but his rendition of this poem, read on a cold winter’s morning, in a classroom smelling of old wooden benches and an anticipation of adulthood, left an impression for life. I knew very little about life then (as I often still feel, many years later), but I felt every word as he read it, experiencing the despair in what I understood to expect of what life will offer. The words sunk deeply into my soul as I realised hope was the only thread throughout all of MacNeice’s pleas that would make him not give up on life.
Now, thirty years on, as I look back on my life, I notice the golden thread of hope that stitched together many pieces of sadness, joy, disappointment, and sunshine to form a tapestry that still warms the belief that kindness exists in the human race.
But I must admit. Sometimes I wish for the burden of hope to leave, as the golden thread forever tightens the noose around my neck in the battle to keep man (un) kind satisfied.
And then I go back and read MacNeice.