And few things encapsulate wisdom more powerfully than proverbs. Besides being timeless and pithy, they contain the experience of centuries gone by in those few short, succinct words. Wisdom and brevity, kind of go together it seems (which reminds me of what Hegarty, an adman, said about long copy. His point was if the French Revolution needed only three words, Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite, why do you need a thousand word copy to sell a detergent powder?).
The curious thing about proverbs is that there are no bylines, no authorship, nothing. They are anonymous, accurate, and absolutely mind blowing.
First some extremely colourful and rich proverbs I grew up listening to:
1."Like a house of ill repute that has witnesses the birth of a boy"
When the light bulb reached its expiry end and was duller than a backbench student, our folks would say that (not within earshot of kids of course). I am not sure if any other expression comes close to convey the low wattage more accurately.
(In case you are wondering: Because the birth of a boy is no cause for celebration, hence dull lights.)
2."Brothels when able-bodied, the Lord on deathbed"
That's the rough translation. It means in the heady days of youth, power and virility, you waste it all on wanton pursuits, and cry for the lord when the effects of your playboy behaviour start to show in the twilight of your life.
3."Just because it's made of gold you can't prick your eyes with a golden pin"
Preciousness has its limitations.
4."Like getting pregnant out of politeness"
This applies to people are too nice and cannot say no even if the consequences are disastrous.