Lost amid the aimless
inside a place that’s timeless
vast and hollow emptiness
hostage to the heartless
washed up against the nameless
hung to dry with the airless
swinging on the line of the hapless
in a repeated pattern that’s effortless.
“In this poor body, composed of one hundred bones and nine openings, is something called spirit; a flimsy curtain swept this way and that by the slightest breeze. It is spirit, such as it is, which led me to poetry, at first little more than a pastime, then the full business of my life. There have been times when my spirit, so dejected, almost gave up the quest, other times when it was proud, triumphant. So it has been from the very start, never finding peace with itself, always doubting the worth of what it makes.”
This is a post with a certain someone in mind and at heart; but Basho pretty much sums up the lifelong inner-boxing match endured by all poets and writers…as a matter of fact, it describes anybody’s struggle with SELF.
“These are the four abuses: desire to succeed in order to make oneself famous; taking credit for the labors of others; refusal to correct one’s errors despite advice; refusal to change one’s ideas despite warnings.”
“Abuse a man unjustly, and you will make friends for him.”
~ Edgar Howe
“Every abuse ought to be reformed, unless the reform is more dangerous than the abuse itself.”
“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
I have written in the past about my strange affinity to Jews…I am still somewhat unclear where it came from or how it got inside of my heart and soul so deeply when I was still so young: this painful understanding and relativity I feel for them all throughout time. The Jews have been the “kicking post” for our entire species since there was such a concept; they have endured struggles and strife that few other cultures can appreciate, and in ways – still do, sadly. Several of the best friends that the Gods have blessed my existence with are Jewish, and as a result, I have had the ongoing opportunity to learn the essence of Judaism fairly up close and personally. The world would be lost without this particular ancient string of goodness.
“You’ve got to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”
~ Irish Proverb
(Of course, I must give a shout out to my one and only “Irish Super Woman”, Tric!!!)
You wanna talk about “ancient wisdom”?…this proverb is enough to stop a clock with its truth. 😉
The Celts have been faring the elements of nature and humankind since the dawn of time, it seems. The Irish, especially, are a very wise and old bloodline in our species of human beings. The history of pre-Celtic Europe remains very controversial to date; but according to some scholars, the common root of the Celtic languages, a language known as Proto-Celtic, appeared sometime amidst the Bronze Age around 1200 BC. They mastered engineering feats that were leaps and bounds ahead of their’ times. The folklore belonging to the Irish is unmatched, in my opinion – I even gave my only child a Celtic name (that has deep meaning and symbolism).
“The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good.”
~ Abraham Lincoln (16th US President)
“Honest Abe” was a very insightful and intelligent human being, and I believe him to be one of the few “good ones” in a long line of US Presidents. I am cheating in the spirit of the 4th of July and using a more modern-era proverb for this one
This one is technically NOT an “ancient” proverb, but a very wise quote from a very wise soul (who happened to be one of our country’s most enigmatic and beloved men, if you’re American, that is);
this particular statement of Lincoln’s has always struck a deep chord within me to read because of the profound implications attached to it, given the context and culture it was born of: a civil war that killed Americans on an unprecedented and unforeseen level…it resonates with me.
“A knife wound heals; a wound caused by words never can.”
~ Turkish Proverb
The Turks are another ancient culture that have managed to persevere throughout a long, long timeline of various disasters – both natural and otherwise. They have sprinkled ancient wisdom throughout the the cultures across the globe as well. And, they are one of the most eloquently spoken and written civilizations throughout history…something to be said about that much, for sure.
“Danger and delight grow on one stalk.”
~ Scottish Proverb
I won’t go there with William Wallace (FREEDOM!!!!!), as we all know his (brilliantly suppressed for centuries) story. The Scots are an ancient culture infused with the elements of several different Celtic tribes; and, a small but very solid force to be reckoned with. As a tiny place on the fringes of a long-battered area, the Scottish have managed to not only survive history’s many pages of war and unrest – but to thrive as well.
“With all things and in all things, we are relatives.”
~ Arapaho Proverb (Native American)
I chose today’s proverb simply because it chose to grab me when I came across it in a book about Colonial times in the US. I know I am not the only one who has noted the trends amongst native leaders during those times to urge unity and humanity in the face of life-altering impositions and strife; and the above quote is just another example of the tribal tendency to relate with a stranger who is fundamentally different.
“Where the cattle stand together, the lion lies down hungry.” ~ African Proverb
King Solomon meets the Lady of Sheba
Again, when it comes to the rich and extremely diverse history attached to Africa, it’s almost impossible to narrow this down to any particular focal point. Nelson Mandela was a true inspiration, but we all know about him already. I am going to go with the rich and extremely intriguing story of the Queen of Sheba, instead.
I choose this woman not just because she was the Queen who had a weekender with King Solomon in Ancient Jerusalem before going home; although her status in ancient times suggests that she was a force to be reckoned with. However, the most amazing part about the legacy left behind so long ago is the Kebra Nagast, or The Glory of the Kings: a fourteenth century saga detailing the origins of theSolomonic line of the Emperors of Ethiopia.
This saga illustrates the legendary relocation of the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia, where it is said to remain to date in a tiny building under sacred guard, and is very, very historically accurate and quite possibly: a very TRUE account.
“Countless are the true words spoken or written in jest.”
~ Old English Proverb
Hmmmmm…what to highlight when it comes to Medieval England? (Not quite “ancient”, I do understand – but close enough…)
England has such a rich and detailed history that it’s difficult to even choose a topic or person to put into this post’s supportive content. For fuck’s sake though, I will choose Bede, “The Father of English History”; and one of the most celebrated scholars and writers of his time (a time that was savagely littered with strife and despair).
“Even the hand of compassion is stung when it strokes a scorpion.”
~ Persian Proverb
One of my very favorite dudes from ancient history would most definitely be Cyrus II, the first Achaemenian King of the Persian Empire AKA “Cyrus the Great”. The story of one the most advanced and lucrative civilizations from ancient history began with him in 559 BC; and his dynasty stayed in control for over 200 years after his death.
“The discovery of a true friend is the discovery of a treasure.”
– Macedonian Proverb
Alexander “the Great” was born in Macedonia; after his death on the road far from Egypt, one of his top generals (and someone he considered a good friend), Ptolemy I Soter (yes, the originator of Cleopatra IIV’s bloodline), stole his mummified remains and took them to Egypt in order to seal his destiny with the Egyptian people. Hence, creating his own place among the beginning of a dynasty of future Pharaohs. I thought this little side note would be rather fitting to today’s ancient proverb regarding “friends” – a proverb passed down from the very same people that would steal the dead body of the other in order to ensure himself a very good Life. What a friend!
Anyway, this post is with my own bestie in mind, a reminder that she and I are indeed: pirate’s…but quite wealthy pirate’s when it comes to the treasure of ‘friendship’.
“It’s no shame to look into the warm sun and regret a lost limb.”
~ Norwegian Proverb
This particular proverb has become a favorite of mine since my own traumatic injury and recovery began; it’s a fine way of reminding someone that we gotta take Life how it comes to us, and run with it – no matter what we’ve lost along the way. We are going to lose, and we are going to be without things we would rather have…but that makes Life no less of a gift.
“A man can never be caught in places that he does not visit.”
– Danish Proverb
My Papa was born and partially raised on the Danish Archipelago, fishing the coast of Bornholm in Denmark before his parents sent him to the united states due to the rising sense of general unrest that began with the occupation of Nazi Germany in the years leading up to WWII. After being emigrated here, my Papa became a military pilot and flew for the US during the war. I have written before about how wise and wonderful of a man and human being he was; and I have a feeling that might have had a lot to do with his early upbringing and environment.
Hold on to what is good,
even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life, even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand, even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.
(Excerpted from a Pueblo Prayer)
The Ancestral Puebloans are said to be the oldest Native Americans known to date; their technologically advanced civilization (i.e. canals, rivers and roadways) were able to miraculously thrive in the deserts of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado during the “Early Basketmaker II Era”. They are also historically referred to as the Anasazi (a derogatory Navajo Term meaning ‘ancient enemy’) .
““So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion;respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,even a stranger, when in a lonely place.Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” ”
“A twig breaks, but a bundle holds strong.”
“When the legends die, the dreams end…there is no more greatness.”