Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Tiger Lily proverbs

Detail, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, rear jacket of Glimmerglass.
This minotaur has flowers and lovely tiger lily spots!

Here are some tweedly, fiddly morning posts from the Twitterlands, all in one place. And this is what comes of thinking about Leonora Carrington and surrealism when one wakes up... I put together these portmanteau proverbs in a spirit of play and send them out especially to my college friend, poet and painter Mary Boxley Bullington,* who had me rooting about in Carrington's paintings yesterday and looking for "a painting about a saint I'd never heard of." He turned out to be Dagobert, and the painting Les Distractions de Dagobert. That would be Dagobert II, mind you!

Fair lady goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing.
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man must go to the mountain.
Let the dead bury a bowl of cherries.
Many are called but just fade away.
The leopard does not change on the other side of the fence.
The devil looks after his own early bird.
One half of the world does not know shrouds have no pockets.
Time will tell the road to hell.
Success has many fathers, while failure rots from the head down.
That which does not kill us shames the Devil.
Wonders will never reap the whirlwind.
The hand that rocks the cradle is always the last to know.
The price of liberty does not change its spots.
There's many a good tune played on an old fool.
Walnuts and pears, there's nowt so queer as folk!
Time and tide run with the hare, and hunt with the hounds.
You can't have your cake and get blood out of a stone.
You are never too old to have too much of a good thing.
When the going gets tough, you gain on the roundabouts.
Where there's a will, there's sauce for the gander.
The opera ain't over until the fat lady is a dead Indian.
The apple never falls just before the dawn.
Talk of the devil, as stupid does.
The age of miracles is golden.
A silk purse from a sow's ear never did anyone any good.
The best-laid schemes of mice are more ways of killing a cat.
Pride goes nine times to the devil.
Let the dead move mountains.
A cat may look at Caesar's wife.
A golden key can open all that glisters.
Better the Devil you know than the Devil bearing gifts.
Don't let the bastards burn your bridges behind you.
Eggs in one basket butter no parsnips.
Strike while the iron is golden.
People who live in glass houses carry a big stick.
Nine tailors make a summer.
Music has charms, is an island.
Life is just a bowl of beer and skittles.
Never speak ill of the mother of invention.
A child that's born on the Sabbath day comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
Mighty oaks make light work.
A drowning man will clutch at a king.
Many hands are made in heaven.
Let not the sun go down on your sleeping dogs.
It's no use locking the stable door after the early bird catches the worm.
Misery loves March winds and April showers.
It's better to light a candle than to catch a thief.
Ignorance is the sincerest form of flattery.
Many a true word is the root of all evil.
If wishes were horses, there'd be no work for tinkers.
He who sups with the Devil deals you lemons.
If God has meant us to fly, he'd have a long spoon.
He who sups with the Devil calls the tune.
Genius is an infinite capacity for silver lining.
Fools rush in where angels butter no parsnips.
Don't teach your Grandma to upset the apple cart.
Behind every great man there's the Ides of March.
Every dog has his castle.
Don't put the cart before birds of a feather.
Don't wash your dirty linen in fire with fire.

*Having wandered by facebook, I see that Ms. Mary Boxley Bullington likes best these two tiger lily proverbs: "One half of the world does not know that shrouds have no pockets" and "You can't have your cake and get blood out of a stone." Oh, and "Never speak ill of the mother of invention." If you don't know her art, I suggest you find her on facebook here, where you can see many of her paintings. She is an exuberant artist, her paintings full of energy and well worth a purchase. She also has a blogspot page here, though it's not up to date.

14 comments:

  1. Wow, these are marvellous. Did you write these, Marly, or are they Carrington's.... not sure?

    Hard to shoose a favourite but maybe: "Genius is an infinite capacity for silver lining."

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    1. No, they're mine--maybe I should make that clear--glad you liked!

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  2. Brava, Marly! I think I shall bookmark this for future revisits.

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    1. Oh, that's sweet! So pleased you liked my early morning playfulness!

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    1. Tim, you're disappearing! No blog and now...

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  4. I'm sorry for the chaos and confusion....blogs up and well....took down comment that was too far off topic....your posting leads me to ponder biblical proverbs...always excellent food for thought....

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    1. I figured out that the blogs were back.... You are whimsicial?

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    2. Whimsical? Me? You are too kind.

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    3. Agh! Whimsical! Hate typos!

      I meant the way you have been on-again, off-again. We're all on tenterhooks... Will he be there tomorrow? Hope so, and hope all is very well with you this week.

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  5. Yet again I find myself staggering at the inventiveness of your mind. Something tells me I'm going to have to commit this one to memory. I shall print it out and make a start. It'll be a good one to recite to myself on long car journeys!

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    1. You're thinking of it as a poem, when I was thinking of it as a list of chopped and portmanteaued proverbs. So maybe I'd better look at it some more!

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  6. How could anything you write not be poetic, in some sense?

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.