(April 9th to 15th)

Format: Triple

‘…Hark ye, Ben. Here is the sun going up to over-run and possess all Heaven for evermore. Therefore (Still, man!) we’ll harness the horses of the dawn. Hear their hooves? “The Lord himself shall be unto thee thy everlasting light, and – “ hold again ! After that climbing thunder must be some smooth check – like great wings gliding. Therefore we’ll not have “shall be thy glory”, but “And thy God thy glory!” …’


This is from ‘Proofs of Holy Writ’, published too late (1934) to be included in ‘Limits and Renewals’, the last RK collection. Ben Jonson and Will Shakespeare are sitting over a flagon of wine, outside a summer house by an apple orchard. Will has been asked to advise on some of the text of the new King James’ Bible, which is in preparation by a committee of divines. Here he is wrestling with a passage of Isaiah.

…Then he wrote, muttering:-

the little smoke of a candle that goes out.

…then with relief

the little smoke that dies in moonlight cold.

Evidently he was snared by the rhymes of his first verse, for he wrote and rewrote ‘gold – cold – mould’ many times. Again he sought inspiration from the advertisement, and set down, without erasure, the line I had overheard.

And threw warm gules on Madeleine’s young breast.

…I found myself nodding approval


This is from ‘Wireless’, in ‘A Diversity of Creatures’. In a pharmacist’s shop, the young assistant, wracked by consumption, is labouring with a poem about his beloved.

It is an ice cold night, and he is surrounded by vivid images that evoke the ambience in which the pharmacist poet Keats would have been writing many years before.

By some mysterious communicative process he summons up the exact words of Keats’ poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, which he has never read.

… ‘How is he chained?’
‘With an iron band round his waist fixed to the bench he sits on, and a sort of handcuff on his left wrist chaining him to the oar. He’s on the lower deck where the worst men are sent, and the only light comes from the hatchways and through the oar holes. Can’t you imagine the sunlight just squeezing through between the handle and the hole and wobbling about as the ship moves?’
‘I can, but I can’t imagine your imagining it’


This is from ‘The Finest Story in the World’ in ‘Many Inventions’.

Charlie Mears, a young bank clerk with literary ambitions, has been encouraged to write by the story teller.

His imagination, liberated by that encouragement, and by his reading of poetry, rediscovers his past life as a Greek galley slave, two thousand years before.