Muse by Craig Ranapia


Commonplace Book

"O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days. Or if Thou wilt not help me, do not help these scoundrels, but leave us to try it ourselves."

Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, (1676-1747), attr., prayer before the Battle of Kesseldorf, December 14, 1745.


She was the sort of woman who, if she had been taken in adultery, would of course have caught the first stone and thrown it back.

Anthony Powell, A Writer's Notebook


You probably need to have had a 'country' upbringing to feel the withering effect of that adjective: "You're the brainy one, aren't you?" It still makes me flinch.

Diana Athill, 'Molly Keane', Stet: A Memoir


Who on earth invented the silly convention that it is boring or impolite to talk shop? Nothing is more interesting to listen to, especially if the shop is not one's own.

W.H. Auden, A Certain World


"Always providing you have enough courage  -- or money -- you can do without a reputation."

Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind


What did you mean when you said that a poem should act like an empty suitcase?


It’s a clown suitcase: the clown flips open the suitcase and pulls out a ton of stuff. A poem is an empty suitcase that you can never quit emptying.

Kay Ryan, interview, Paris Review (Winter 2008)


I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.

Rebecca West, 'Mr Chesterton in Hysterics', The Clarion November 14, 1913


Society is a very culpable entity, and has to answer for the manufacture of many unwholesome commodities, from bad pickles to bad poetry. But society, like "matter," and Her Majesty's Government, and other lofty abstractions, has its share of excessive blame as well as excessive praise.

George Eliot, 'Silly Novels by Lady Novelists', The Westminster Review, October 1856


Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.

Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance

Commonplace Book is an irregular feature made up of other people's words that are insightful, amusing or just too clever for words.Tobias Wolff's memoir This Boy's Life contains this line: "My first stepfather used to say that what I didn't know would fill a book." I have a row of them.

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