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Persian Proverbs

Here are ca. 120 Persian proverbs. Rigidity of ensnaring outlooks is not what is called for: add mental well-well's to sayings as you find fit.


A drop of rain makes no impression on a hard stone.

A pleasant voice brings a snake out of his hole.

A quality statement often gets no answer.

A single flower doesn't make spring.

A stone thrown at the right time might be better than gold given at the wrong time.*

A sword in the hands of a drunken slave is less dangerous than science in the hands of the immoral.

An ungrateful son is a wart on his father's nose - he leaves it, it's ugly, he removes it, it hurts.

Aspiration is not a defect in youngsters.

Bake the bread while the oven is hot.

Be not all sugar, or the world will swallow you up; be not all wormwood, or the world will spit you out.

Bravery without foresight is like a blind horse.

Buy cheap, buy a heap.

Comfortable is he who doesn't have a donkey - doesn't know of its straw and barley.

Courteous men learn courtesy from the discourteous.

Courtesy on just one side can never last long.

Death is a camel that lies down at every door.

Do men gather grapes of thorns?

Do not cut down the tree that gives you shade.

Do not let the cat watch over the bacon.

Do not use words that are too big for your mouth.

Don't borrow from a parvenu; if you do, don't spend it.

Don't despise pepper because it is so small; eat, and see how pungent it is.

Draw not thy bow before thy arrow be fixed.

Drawn wells have sweetest water.

Epigrams might succeed where epics fail. *

Every man is the king of his own beard.

Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald.

First prove your brotherhood, then claim inheritance.

Flies will never leave the shop of a sweetmaker.

Four walls make a man free.

Friendship with a fool may turn into the hug of a bear [Mod].

Go and wake up your luck.

Go slowly and come slowly so that the cat won't gore you.

Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.

He doesn't see any water; otherwise, he is a skilled swimmer.

He has eaten so many snakes that he has become a viper.

He has fallen off the donkey, but has found a date.

He is still alive because he cannot afford a funeral.

He pushes it away with the hand, but pulls it forward with the foot.

He who want a rose must respect the thorn.

He who wants the rose must respect the thorn.

Human beings need meaningful lives.

I eat what others have planted and I plant what others want to eat.

I mumbled/wept because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.

If I haven't eaten wheat-bread, I've seen it in people's hands.

If the teacher be corrupt, the world will be corrupt.

If you be a cock, crow; if a hen, lay eggs.

If you can give me no ointment for my wound, can you help me by not rubbing salt in?

If you know lullaby, why can't you sleep?

If you tell the truth too early, you are laughed at - too late and you are stoned.

In the hotel of decisions, the guests sleep well.

In the hour of adversity be not without hope.

In this world generous people have no money and those with money are not generous.

It is a real compliment that comes from an enemy.

It is a wise man who can laugh at his own jokes.

It is not from the love of God that the cat catches mice.

It seems like folly to give comfits to a cow [Mod] - It can be fun anyway.

It's from us, what's upon us.

Learn good manners from those who don't have them.

Life is like perpetual drunkenness; the pleasure passes but the headache remains.

Listening to good advice is the way to wealth.

Little by little the cotton thread becomes a turban.

Little by little the wool becomes a carpet.

Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.

Luck is infatuated with the efficient.

Maturity comes from wisdom, not in the passing of years.

Matury comes from impressions for a long time. [TK]

My good deed was blamed or punished.

Not everyone who sings a lullaby stays awake.

Once I had the strength but no wisdom; now I have the wisdom but no strength.

One pound of learning could require an army of common sense to apply it [Remade].

One pound of learning might have required many thousand persons of common sense to acquire it [Mod].

One scabby goat infects the flock.

Seek truth in meditation, not in mouldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.

Some good poets are like angels of Heaven.*

Stand so much until grass grows under your foot.

Stretch your foot to the length of your blanket.

Take care lest your tongue should cut off your head.

Taking the first step with the good thought, the second with the good word, and the third with the good deed, I enter paradise.

The arrow that has left the bow never returns.

The best mode of instruction is to practise what we preach.

The best of men are but men at best.

The big drum only sounds well from a distance.

The bride who wears four petticoats has a lot to hide.

The diamond fallen into the dunghill is not the less precious for it [Abr]

The earth is a host who kills his guests.

The eyes can do a thousand things that the fingers can't.

The hand that gives is also the one that receives.

The larger a man's roof, the more snow it collects.

The pitcher is cheaper than its solder.

The walls have mice, the mice have ears.

The wise man who does not put his knowledge into practice is like a bee that gives no honey.

The world is a rose; smell it and pass it on to your friends.

The world is like an old building on the banks of a stream - it carries away piece by piece; in vain you stop it with a handful of earth.

There are four things every person has more of than they know . . .

There are three kinds of enemies: the enemy himself, the friends of your enemy, and the enemies of your friends.

There are three things that have to be done quickly: burying the dead, opening the door for a stranger, and fixing your daughter's wedding.

Thinking is the essence of wisdom.

Thinking well is wise; planning well, wiser; but doing well is the wisest and best of all.

Travel the highway, though it be roundabout – where shortcuts are dangerous.

Trust in God – but tie your camel tight.

Water long stagnant becomes putrid.

We come into this world crying while all around us are smiling. May we so live that we go out of this world smiling while everybody around us is weeping.

We're alive for the lack of a shroud [i.e., - because we cannot afford a funeral].

What percolates out of the jug is what's inside it.

What the thief stole has always been called expensive.

What you've brought for me, take for your aunt.

Whatever you sow, you reap. [It is often so, but not always. Lots of people inherit what others have sown, for one thing.]

When a stone hits glass, the glass breaks. When glass hits a stone, the glass breaks.

When fate strikes physicians are useless.

When I am dead the world can be an ocean or a dried up ditch.

When its time has come, the prey goes to the hunter.

When one is really thirsty, one thousand pearls are not what is craved for at all.*

When the water goes uphill, the frog sings Abu Ata [its same old song as before].

When there's fire, dry and wet burn together.

Where is the person who has not soiled his garments?

Where the camel is sold for a cent, the ass is worthless.

Who sows barley cannot reap wheat.

Why would a pool that doesn't have water need so many frogs?

Yoke not a camel and a cat together. [Be free to ask 'Why?']

You ask the donkey when's Wednesday?

You cannot hang everything on one nail.

You can't pick up two melons with one hand.

You can't please everyone.

You can't squeeze blood from a rock.

You don't put a wooden pot on the fire twice.


Persian proverbs, Literature  

Aram, Homayoon, coll. Wit and Wisdom of Three Worlds: A Bilingual Collection of Popular Persian Judaic and Western Proverbs and Expressions. Bethesda, MD: IBEX Publishers, 2008. ⍽▢⍽ Dr. Aram presents about 4 000 proverbs and sayings from Persian, Jewish and Western literature. Thematically arranged.

Eghbal, Farshid. Famous Proverbs: Persian-English. Script. Teheran: Sabokbaran, 2004. ⍽▢⍽ Here are perhaps 1800-2000 proverbs and idioms, without explanations. Many Persian proverbs are from the works of poets and philosophers. And some of them contradict one another, Eghbal tells too . . .

Elwell-Sutton, Laurence Paul. Persian Proverbs. London: John Murray, 1954. ⍽▢⍽ This is Volume 35 in the series The Wisdom of the East.

Habibian, Simin K., coll. One Thousand and One Persian-English Proverbs: Learning Language and Culture Through Commonly Used Sayings. 3rd. ed. Bethesda, ML: Ibex Publishing, 2002. ⍽▢⍽ Thematically arranged, literal translations of 1001 of the best know Persian proverbs, with English equivalents (similar proverbs).

Hayyim, Suleiman. Persian-English Proverbs, together with Idioms, Phrases, Glossarial Notes, Mother Stories, Etc. Teheran: Beroukhim, 1956. ⍽▢⍽ Useful, but perhaps hard to find. There are proverbs in Persian and English on 460 of 820 pages, and explanations of some of the proverbs. There may be about 4000 proverbs in all, perhaps some more. Sayings are separated from proverbs, and placed in their own section.

Long, James Long. Eastern Proverbs and Emblems Illustrating Old Truths. London: Trubner, 1881.

Wilson, Horace Hayman, red. A Collection of Proverbs, and Proverbial Phrases in the Persian and Hindoostanee Languages: Persian, Vol. 1. Calcutta: The Hindoostanii Press, 1824. ⍽▢⍽ 2222 Persian proverbs in Persian and English. Most of them were collected and translated by Thomas Roebuck.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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