(January 27th to February 6th)

Format: Triple

They clawed, they slapped, they fled, leaving behind them a trophy of banners and brasses crudely arranged round the big drum. Then that end of the street also shut its windows, and the village, stripped of life, lay round me like a reef at low tide

This is from “The Vortex” in A Diversity of Creatures. Four boxes of bees have been dropped in the street in a crowded country village on a hot summer afternoon. They swarm into the air, stinging everyone in their path.


This is from an address by RK to a Royal Academy Dinner in May 1906, collected in ‘A Book of Words’.

‘…The Elizabethans … stood on the edge of a new and wonderful world filled with happy possibilities. Their descendants, 350 years later, have been shot into a world as new and as wonderful, but not quite as happy. And in both ages you can see writers raking the dumps of the English language for words that shall range harder, hit harder, and explode over a wider area than the service-pattern words in common use.
This merciless search, trial, and scrapping of material is one with the continuity of life which, we all know, is as a tale that is told, and which writers feel should be well told…’


This is from an address by RK to the Royal Literary Society in June 1926, collected in ‘A Book of Words’.

…’They say youth is the season of hope, ambition, and uplift – that the last word youth needs is an exhortation to be cheerful. Some of you here know – and I remember – that youth can be a season of great depression, despondencies, doubts, waverings, the worse because they seem to be peculiar to ourselves and incommunicable to our fellows. There is a certain darkness into which the soul of the young man sometimes descends – a horror of desolation, abandonment, and realised worthlessness, which is one of the most real of the hells in which we are compelled to walk.’
‘I know of what I speak…’


This is from an address by RK at McGill University in Montreal in October 1907, collected in ‘A Book of Words’.