Category: Proverbs & Sayings

Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book –  no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.  The books were referred by Italians as “salads of many herbs.”

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think  today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


Swiss Proverbs & Sayings

Swiss Proverbs & Sayings

A proverb characterizes nations, but must first dwell among them.
– Switzerland

God preserve us from pitch-forks, for they make three holes.
– Switzerland

Strange bread makes the cheeks red.
– Switzerland

The roughest stone becomes smooth when it is much rolled.
– Switzerland

Under trees it rains twice.
– Switzerland

Dante Alighieri – Supreme Poet

Statue of Dante at the Uffizi, Florence

Statue of Dante at the Uffizi, Florence

Durante degli Alighieri

– simply called Dante (c. 1265–1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.
– Wikipedia

Dante Alighieri's portrait by Sandro Botticelli

Dante Alighieri’s portrait by Sandro Botticelli



As Quoted by Dante:

All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
– Hell. Canto iii. Line 9
Friendship does not spring up and grow great and become perfect all at once, but requires time and the nourishment of thoughts.

No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy when misery is at hand.
– Dante
THERE is no greater grief in misery than to turn our thoughts back to happier times.
– Dante.

WORLDLY fame is but a breath of wind, that blows now this way, now that, and changes name as it changes sides.