A NICE TURN OF PHRASE
A mixed bag of deft, colourful and evocative sayings on a variety of subjects.
Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.
The quiet duck puts his foot on the unobservant worm.
Only a pumpkin is a head without cares.
Better be the beak of a chicken than the rump of an ox.
Poets and pigs are only appreciated after their death.
Worlds are mere bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.
It is better to suffer the satiated mosquito to stay than to admit the hungry one.
One sprinkles the most sugar where the tart is burnt.
You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from nesting in your hair.
He sits full still that has riven trousers.
Other people’s goats always have the biggest udders.
It’s a hard job to make old monkeys pull new faces.
Hope is the dream of waking.
Do not stab yourself because you have a golden knife.
The man who spends the night in a marsh wakes a cousin to the frogs.
To carry a light when the moon shines makes tigers laugh.
After being struck on the head by an axe, it is a positive pleasure to be beaten about the body with a wooden club.
The shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.
It is easy to cut whangs off other folks’ leather.
Don’t be after breaking your shin on a stool that isn’t there.
The beetle in its hole is a sultan.
A centipede doesn’t stop for a game leg.
Mistakes ain’t haystacks or there’d be more fat ponies than there is.
With patience and saliva the ant swallows an elephant.
It is nobler to be taken by a big crocodile than to be nibbled to pieces by little fishes.
Fowl scratch up too much dirt, him run risk of finding him grandma’s skeleton.
Many shrimps, many flavours; many men, many whims.
Alms once given are as phlegm which has been expectorated – not worth taking back.
A spur in the head is worth two in the heel.
Nothing to bother you, eh? Then go and buy a goat.
Sycophants scratch pimples for a livelihood.
A lame cat is better than a swift horse when rats infest the palace.
Dogs and rude people have no hands.
A naked man can be seen from afar, a rude one, close at hand.
He who does evil to a benefactor is like a dog which eats up the piece of leather on which he sleeps.
Farming, letter writing, worship and the tightening of your horse’s girth; these things should be done by yourself, though you have a hundred thousand attendants.
It is a sick duck that is worried by the weasel.
A man that pets a live catfish ain’t crowded with brains.
Death is a black camel that kneels at every man’s gate.
The tongue is soft and constantly remains in; the teeth are hard and fall out.
If you do what people tell you, you will be fishing hares in the sea and hunting fish in the woods.
The dragon in shallow water becomes the butt of shrimps.
Mind your pullets, my cocks are abroad!
Our Lady of Pity and Mister Saint Peter gave bad cows short horns.
Although there exist many thousands of subjects for elegant conversation, there are persons who cannot meet a cripple without talking about feet.
He that denies the cat skimmed milk must give the mouse cream.
Who does not feed the dog, feeds the thief.
One should not peer into the mouth of a presentation cow and look at its teeth.
Do not examine the reindeer given by the rich man lest you find it to be without horns.
Better a sausage in the hand, than a ham in the butchers.
A slice of ham is better than a fat pig in a dream.
A bird in the soup is better than an eagle’s nest in the desert.
PECULIAR PROVERBS. Copyright © 2007 by Stephen Arnott. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.