Monday, 22 September 2014

A prayer for Clive

I've been a fan of Clive James both as a broadcaster and writer for many years. James has a brilliant mind and is a truly gifted communicator. People will be familiar with his biting satire on television, his novels, memoires and his witty, sometimes devastating, reviews in print. Not so many will be familiar with James' work as a lyricist, or translator of Dante's The Divine Comedy, or his poetry. As James approaches death he has published 'Japanese Maple' which may prove to be the last in a series of farewell poems. It is a stunning piece of work and yet I found it tinged with sadness as James contemplates this autumn heralding the end of his life.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, chose to tweet a link to James' poem with the hashtag #humanist, and I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it is because Copson believes that the poem supports his world view but I think there is more to James' world view than Copson allows. Consider this article Lest we forget, Jesus the man for the BBC's A Point Of View. During Christmas 2008 James' invited us to remember Jesus and at one point comments:
I know that my redeemer liveth? Well I doubt if he can redeem me. I wish he could. But I do have faith that he lives on, as an ideal. All the Christian religions are lucky to have him, and those of us who have ceased to be Christians in the old way are lucky to have him too.
The piece concludes with the following:
The bird of morning will never sing all night long, but nor, if we are wise, will the memory of that man (Jesus) ever die.
So I pray that even in these last days Clive James will remember Jesus and come to know the wonder and joy of being remembered by Jesus when he looks on the Japanese Maple for the last time.

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