{npm22: 2~ penny cinquain}

There I was, weeping dramatically at eighth grade graduation that friends would be parted, and hearing the mother of a friend say, “Oh, don’t you worry, so-and-so will turn up again, like a bad penny.”

A bad — what? I was deeply offended… but alas, it turned out to be true. Adding such a proverb to the steady two, four, six, eight, two syllables of the cinquain underscores how inevitable life sometimes feels.

Historical sources explain that bad pennies were a big problem back in Ye Olden Days before the standardization of the weight of a coin, because coins could be clipped. The term ‘bad penny’ was established enough in English by the late 14th century for it to have been used in William Langland’s famous prose poem The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman, written between 1370-90. Just think – that phrase came all the way from the 14th century for someone to say it to me when I was twelve!

“A bad penny always turns up.”

A crowded room
no guaranteed exit…
The snobby crowd you’d hoped to miss

2 Replies to “{npm22: 2~ penny cinquain}”

  1. Oh yeah. Been there, felt that.

    So, between you and Amy LV, I’m now starting to see proverbs everywhere. I’m looking in WALK TWO MOONS for my line for the Progressive poem and found this: “My father says I lean on broken reeds and will get a face full of swamp mud one day.” From the Free Dictionary, a broken reed signifies: “A weak or unreliable support, as in I’d counted on her to help, but she turned out to be a broken reed. The idea behind this idiom, first recorded about 1593, was already present in a mid-15th-century translation of a Latin tract, “Trust not nor lean not upon a windy reed.” I guess Sal’s father took some liberties with the swamp mud…

    1. @Cousin MaryLee: I love finding the provenance of these – and WALK TWO MOONS has such great phrases for what I think of as “local” proverbs, the sorts of things your mother always says… Funny it’s so old, though. Truly, nothing we say is new.

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