Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Commonplace Book

One of my friends, a long time instructor of high school English and an avid reader, has her students replicate an idea from the past, the Commonplace Book. For her class, the assignment is to copy, in longhand, a quote from daily reading that the student wishes to remember, or some brief excerpt which is worthy of further contemplation. As illustrated by the link associated with the title, the keeping of such a book was typical in times past.

My daughter kept her Commonplace Book when assigned to do so, since she was in my friend's class during her high school years, but now that she is a college sophomore, she tells me that she has returned to the practice. Recently, she shared this entry from her notebook— a brief, comedic poem by one of my favorite favorite authors, a skillful poet and a true cynic, Dorothy Parker. Some of the best writing is produced by unhappy people, as a study of Parker's bio reveals. Reading her verse reminds me that times may change, but the nature of humanity does not.

The Leal

The friends I made have slipped and strayed.
And who's the one that cares
A trifling lot and best forgot—
And that's my tale, and theirs.

Then if my friendships break and bend
There's little need to cry
The while I know that every foe
Is faithful till I die.

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