Knowledge is slender and hard-won compared with ignorance, which is vast and dangerous, observes the writer Rachel Cusk in her essay Coventry, from the collection by the same name.
We have gained some hard-won knowledge about Covid-19. There is still much we don't know.
Just as there is a great deal we don't know about Brexit's impact, although we understand enough to prepare for the worst, as Paschal Donohoe indicated during his Budget 2021 speech.
He made time to include the Seamus Heaney refrain fast achieving old-reliable status: "If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere."
It's not a line of poetry, but rather a comment made by Heaney at the launch of his 1972 collection Wintering Out, and its message of hope was associated with the Troubles before it became the go-to Covid-era quote.
But his Tyrone-born wife, Marie Heaney, told me the line didn't originate with him - although he certainly popularised it - but with the poet WF Marshall. He was a Presbyterian minister with an ear for the vernacular known as the Bard of Tyrone, and her husband was familiar with his work.
The line first appears in Marshall's poem Sarah Ann, featuring a disagreeable employer reputedly based on a shopkeeper and farmer from Aughnacloy called Robert.
It's spoken by a girl who goes shouting through a hiring fair, by way of recommending herself to employers: "I wunthered in wee Robbie's, I can summer anywhere."
Marshall's verses were first published in journals and subsequently in book form between 1922 and 1943, and people knew them by heart. I learned some of them growing up in Tyrone, too.
It does no harm to point out, in this time when increased North-South co-operation is not only desirable but advisable, that he was an Orangeman whose work was admired across the political divide. Culture, like Covid, knows no boundaries.
So it seems appropriate that a poet of Heaney's calibre, who also had one foot in Northern Ireland and another in the Republic, should help the aphorism reach a wider audience.
As to the challenges facing us, they are towering. The pandemic aside, Brexit and climate change must be considered. The Covid-19 struggle cannot leave us frozen because those other threats don't simply recede when we are preoccupied by the virus.
We know increased North-South co-operation is essential both for our island-wide economy to thrive and if we are to control the spread of Covid which - it can't be repeated too frequently - recognises no borders.
Consequently, it's disappointing to see a cosmetic exercise in action. Existing North-South projects, such as roads and waterways, have been parcelled together and deposited in the Office of the Taoiseach under the aegis of the Shared Island Unit.
That does nothing to advance collaboration. The €500m announced over five years includes finance for initiatives previously announced.
However, Michael McGrath's speech presented the bundle as fresh funding. And spent longer quoting from John F Kennedy's speech to the Dáil in 1963, where the president borrowed from George Bernard Shaw - an extract about hope, confidence and the imagination - than he did in considering how to be genuinely imaginative about changing circumstances post-Brexit on this island.
Yes, we do need hope, confidence and imagination applied to navigating a way forward, minister. If you'd announced the Government was willing to fund an island-wide, cross-community, inclusive citizens' assembly to discuss the future of the two parts of this landmass, then that would have been forward-looking. That would have earned you the right to reference hope, confidence and the imagination.
The Budget needed to be an unflinching examination of conflicting needs. But the imperative to forge closer connections with the North has been considered in only the most cursory way. We accept we need to act as a group, going forward. But that applies to everyone on the island.
As for the rest of the Budget, most of it was leaked strategically in advance. The numbers soup wasn't particularly surprising when served up to us yesterday, despite 16pc unemployment being hard to digest.
But what wasn't said explicitly - although Mr Donohoe alluded to it when he acknowledged the European Central Bank (ECB) at the start of his speech - was that the money to pay for this Budget comes courtesy of the ECB, busily buying up the bonds to fund it, and keeping the cost of borrowing low.
The Green Party's influence on Budget 2021 is apparent. The carbon tax increase will push up the price of a tank of petrol or diesel, and additional costs may appear counter-intuitive when a government is trying to reflate the economy. However, the hope is that more people will switch to electric cars.
But second-hand electric vehicles remain relatively expensive, never mind new models.
More affluent people can afford electric cars, others are obliged to make do, which means keeping their petrol or diesel model on the road. Not least because Covid-19 has led to fear of public transport.
If climate action is to be a reality and not a slogan, what's really needed is behavioural change - encouraging people to drive less and own fewer cars per household.
As ministers toss around that idea of harnessing the imagination, they might consider additional incentives for those in a position to change their cars. Free parking for electric vehicles is one example.
Still, anything that takes SUVs and other Goliaths off the road is a positive - they have proliferated in recent years with motorists surrendering to the super-size-me lure. Four-wheel drive is simply essential for nipping to the supermarket. Not.
Also welcome is Mr Donohoe's announcement the Finance Bill will legislate for automatic carbon tax rises every year until 2030, as the State aims for that carbon-neutral Holy Grail.
Some have complained that this is hardly democratic. But it takes climate action out of the hands of party politics.
Finally, that Heaney quote gladdened the heart, familiar though it is.
It was like meeting a friend on a moonless night after the street lights had failed. The last time I watched a Budget with such low spirits was back in the tough years of 2008, 2009 and 2010 when Ireland's economic sovereignty was on the line.
Shoulder to the wheel again. Already. Is there another Heaney quote to help with that?