This is from the first of a trilogy of memoirs by Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), whose life began in Tsarist Russia and ended in the Soviet Union.  His childhood was marked by inhuman cruelty and superhuman kindness, and yet he managed to survive it without being alienated from his grandfather who believed in life-threatening beatings for close family members. Somehow Gorky managed to extract what was good from the people around him, which may be why he likens the knowledge and experience they shared (along with some wondrous stories) to a gift of honey.

In recalling my childhood I like to picture myself as a beehive to which various simple obscure people brought the honey of their knowledge and thoughts on life, generously enriching my character with their own experience.  Often this honey was dirty and bitter, but every scrap of knowledge was honey all the same. 

  Source: Maxim Gorky, My Childhood, trans. Ronald Wilks (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1966), p. 132 Photo credit: ulleo at pixabay

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