There were several boars’ tusks and the claws of tigers and libbards mounted in symmetrical patterns, and a big head of Ovis Poli, six live grass snakes in a kind of aquarium, some nests of the solitary wasp nicely set up in a glass cylinder, an ordinary beehive whose inhabitants went in and out of the window unmolested, two young hedgehogs in cotton wool, a pair of badgers which immediately began to cry Yik-Yik-Yik-Yik in loud voices as soon as the magician appeared, twenty boxes which contained stick caterpillars and sixths of the puss-moth, and even an oleander that was worth sixpence – all feeding on the appropriate leaves – a guncase with all sorts of weapons which would not be invented for half a thousand years, a rod-box ditto, a chest of drawers full of salmon flies which had been tied by Merlyn himself, another chest whose drawers were labeled Mandragora, Mandrake, and Old Man’s Beard, etc., a bunch of turkey feathers and goose-quills for making pens, an astrolabe, twelve pairs of boots, a dozen purse-nets, three dozen rabbit wires, twelve corkscrews, some ants’ nests between two glass plates, ink-bottles of every possible color from red to violet, darning-needles, a gold medal for being the best scholar at Winchester, four or five recorders, a nest of field mice all alive-o, two skulls, plenty of cut glass, Venetian glass, Bristol glass and a bottle of Mastic varnish, some Satsuma china and some cloisonné, the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (marred as it was by the sensationalism of the popular plates), two paint-boxes (one oil, one water-color), three globes of the known geographical world, a few fossils, the stuffed head of a cameleopard, six pismires, some glass retorts with cauldrons, Bunsen burners, etc., and a complete set of cigarette cards depicting wild fowl by Peter Scott.
–T.H. White, from The Once and Future King


Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
This playfully long list of a sentence describes the contents of Merlyn’s home as first seen by the young King Arthur, and serves to depict the boy’s bedazzlement as well as the time-traveling magician’s eccentricity. Merlyn’s clutter is glorious, charming (what child would not go gaga over hedgehogs in cotton wool?), confusing (White frequently mixed the archaic – like the names of mythological beasts – with the modern), and ominous, and goes on to hint at the inevitable fall from innocence, with “weapons which would not be invented for half a thousand years.” Watching the boy, Merlyn is struck by the bitter knowledge of what is to come – Arthur’s kingdom destroyed by incest, adultery, betrayal, and war. But in this moment, in this early scene, Arthur stands enchanted by the unexpected jumble, a collection from the past, present, and future.
–Sarah Getz is the author of the recently completed novel, Bellsinger (working title)