A beautiful song and a modest proposal

While writing a commentary on the recently concluded climate change talks in Paris this morning, I heard a beautiful musical presentation of “Down by the Salley Gardens.” on WQXR, New York City’s classical music station. (The “Salley Gardens” was on the banks of the river at Ballysadare near Sligo County, Ireland, where the people cultivated trees to provide roof thatching materials.) The piece is based on a poem by the same name, written by the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

The verse was subsequently set to music by others. And in listening to it this morning while at the same time writing a commentary on Paris and the climate crisis, two thoughts came to mind. One is that in a just and non-violent world every child should be surrounded and enriched by beauty in its myriad of forms. Or to paraphrase and take liberty with the poem of the great poet and visionary William Blake, every child should be “born to sweet delight.”

The other is that if we aren’t quite up to doing that, can we make a minimum commitment to do everything we can to make the world habitable and sustainable for this generation of children and those to come.

Game of the week

What else, but the Big Ten title game between Michigan State and Iowa. Iowa comes in with no losses, State with one. And the winner goes to the national college football playoffs. As much as I like Iowa, I like State more – 24 – 17.

Game of the week

Since I just came back from a visit to Michigan and since I lived there at one time, the Game of the Week is – what else – Michigan State vs. Ohio State. Ohio State is undefeated and last year’s NCAA football champion and Michigan State has lost one game this season, thanks to a very bad officiating call in a game against Nebraska. Both teams have under performed however, despite their records. When I was a boy I was an avid Buckeye fan, but now that I’m a man, the Spartans and all things Michigan command my loyalty. The game is in Columbus, making a Spartan victory uphill. Nevertheless, (and here’s too hoping), Spartans squeak out narrow victory 27-24 as Buckeyes under perform once again.

University of Missouri football players step up, university president steps down

Just finished listening to a remarkable press conference with Mack Rhoades, Athletic Director, and Gary Kinkel, football coach, at the University of Missouri on ESPN. Both supported the refusal of the university’s football team to play in this weekend’s game with BYU as an expression of solidarity with the student hunger striker Jonathan Butler. Butler, along with other students and faculty, who had been protesting racial injustice and other incidents on campus, had called earlier to no avail for university president, Timothy M. Wolfe, who had become a cause of and obstacle to resolving racial and other tensions on campus, to step down. But it appears that entrance of the football players in this struggle that had gained broad support across the campus and was a continuation of wider process of struggle going back to Fergurson, turned into a tipping point (and not only because of the money lost – 1 millions bucks – if this weekend’s game was forfeited) forcing Wolfe to do today what up to now he had resisted: resign as president.

Player of the week

No contest here: it’s Steph Curry, point guard of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the league’s MVP last year. Curry heard during the off season that neither he nor his team were quite deserving of the awards and titles that they won. Not surprisingly, this clamor in the sports world, which thanks to ESPN goes on all day and night (not complaining), has given Curry, if he needed any motivation this season, more than enough to prove his critics wrong and to repeat his exploits from last season. In the first week of league play Curry has been nothing short of magical, a ballerina and Houdini on the basketball floor. LeBron may still be the best player in the world, but Curry is a close second and no one is more entertaining to watch. The basketball in his hands is like a brush in Van Gogh’s. Both see and do things in their respective craft and art form that leave the rest of us mere mortals looking on in wonder.