All Posts (649)
Nos 641 to 649
Sir George Macfarren
Hans Christian Andersen
The Emperor’s New Clothes
A telling satire on fashionable thinking among the elite.
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)

ONCE upon a time, some weavers arrived at court, and offered to make robes so fine that only men fit for the very highest offices could even see them.

The Emperor paid them handsomely, and they set to work.

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No. 641
Aesop of Samos
The Crow and the Pitcher
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

AN extremely thirsty crow stumbled across a pitcher, and when she peered inside she found that it was half-filled with water.

But the neck was very narrow, and try as she might she could neither reach the water with her beak, nor summon up sufficient force to tip the pitcher on its side.

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No. 642
Elias Parish Alvars
Aesop of Samos
The Goose with the Golden Egg
Don’t get greedy when things are going well.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, there was a villager who kept a goose. One morning he went to her nest to find an egg, and discovered that she had laid an egg of pure gold.

Immediately, a thought suggested itself. To lay a golden egg, his goose must surely be carrying around a vast lump of gold.

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No. 643
John Field
Aesop of Samos
The Debtor and his Pig
There are no lengths to which some people won’t go.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time in Athens, there was a man who was in debt, and his creditor was pressing him to repay.

His first response was to ask for an extension on his loan, as (so he said) he could not raise the money.

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No. 644
Charles Avison
Poets and Poetry
Unsung Heroes
The poet reflects on the obscure lives that most of us lead.
By Thomas Gray
(1716-1771)

PERHAPS in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

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No. 645
Camille Saint-Saens
Poets and Poetry
Ozymandias
The glory of political power soon passes away.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies.”

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No. 646
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Poets and Poetry
November
Humorist Thomas Hood obviously didn’t like to see the nights drawing in
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)

NO sun - no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member.

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No. 647
Poets and Poetry
The Music of Silence
In Coleridge’s epic poem, the Ancient Mariner, amid the horrors of a ship of dead men, sees a sight both beautiful and surreal.
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(1772-1834)

EACH corse lay flat, lifeless and flat, And, by the holy rood! A man all light, a seraph-man, On every corse there stood.

This seraph-band, each waved his hand: It was a heavenly sight! They stood as signals to the land, Each one a lovely light;

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No. 648
Muzio Clementi
Poets and Poetry
‘I Remember’
A poem of nostalgia tinged with regret.
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)

I REMEMBER, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

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No. 649
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
The Nazi-collaborating Vichy government in France paid Rugby League the supreme compliment: they banned it.
By Jeremy Bentham
(1748-1832)
The role of government in a nation’s prosperity is important but limited.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
A Roman commander facing court martial took refuge in politics, and for ten years London was an imperial capital.
Why did a kindly old priest refuse to show his respects to St Nektarios?

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History (394)
Polywords (182)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Fete’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘bashful’ (3), and ‘an open area of shrubs and coarse grass’ (5)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with COAL and finish with FIRE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.