Archive for Commonplace book

A Commonplace Blog

Posted in Biographical, Poetry with tags , , on July 29, 2010 by telescoper

Just a brief interruption to my holiday from blogging. Posting from the old Blackberry isn’t particularly easy, so I’ll keep it brief. It struck me that this would provide a nice postscript to my recent navel-gazing post about blogging so I decided to put it up before I forget which, in fact, is part of the point of the text…

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind’s imprint will bear,
And of this book this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know
Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
Look, what thy memory can not contain
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, deliver’d from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 77 is open to quite a bit of interpretation, but it seems clear that the “vacant leaves” refer to the blank pages of a “commonplace book“. To paraphrase wikipedia

Such books came into use in the middle ages and were essentially scrapbooks, filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and humanists as aids for remembering or developing useful concepts ideas or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests.

Dare I say, just like a blog? In particular, the phrase to “take a new acquaintance of thy mind” surely rings true to anyone who writes a blog…