Ode to a Dictionary (with acknowledgment to Pablo Neruda)

It was a general Common Application essay, without any specific question in mind.


Ode to a Dictionary (with acknowledgment to Pablo Neruda)

You were a gift of language, given to me by my father eight years ago. My dad was traveling to Oxford that year to attend a lecture and asked if I wanted a present. Book-lover that I was, I had always thought Oxford was most famous for its Press, so I requested an English Dictionary. So, upon my father’s return from England, I received you – my first pocket dictionary.

You and I soon became close companions: as you would faithfully wait by my bedside table, allowing me to pry apart your pages to extract information, I would dutifully jot definitions into a notebook or even into the marginal perimeter of the novel itself. Lovingly, I marked new vocabulary with gentle blue dots to avoid overly tainting your pages.

Over the years, your paper has matured to a shade of papyrus. I confess that during this time I have not always been kind to you: a conspicuous greasy stain remains where my thumb has drawn its course along the side of your pages. Years of mistreatment have caused your spine to tear away from your jacket and I’ve tried to repair the injury, but now I must open you carefully, as though your secrets might be lost.

Dictionary, I’ve often lamented your dull precision....

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