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Selected Welsh Proverbs

Proverbs and recurrent, deep problems often go hand in hand.

Below is the digest of the English part of a collection of Welch proverbs and maxims with English renderings, The Proverbs of Wales, collected by T. R Roberts. Here are 111 proverbs and 73 entries from Robert's much larger bilingual volume.

For most part the focus here is on sayings of much value to others than Welch people too, at least if considered metaphorically. Entries appear alphabetically here, and not as in the original. However, since the original collection has an index, assessing both Welch expressions and unmodified English renderings there, will pose no great problems.

Book data is furnished further down.

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Adversity

In distress a friend is best (No. 15).

Advice

The fool loves not those who advise him (No. 13].

Agriculture

Odious is an orchard without apples (No. 5).

Bare is the land a sheep will not graze (No. 23).

Husbandry is no monkery (No. 28].

Cautiousness

Who avoids not the smoke will avoid not its harm (No. 2).

It is [quite] easy to be cautious [Mod, no. 4].

Choice

The best choice is to do good (No. 5).

In every choice there is perplexity (No. 12].

Complaint

He who complains of excess does not grieve at all (No. 2).

The hired ox cannot complain (No. 10].

Conscience

The best of every man is his conscience (No. 3].

Conversation

It is one thing to say, another to do (No. 18].

Courage

The best courage is to consider before striking (No. 7).

It is easy to incite the bold (No. 9].

Covetousness

There is no miser without his load of trouble (No. 15].

Credulity

There is no belief without evidence (No. 10].

Deafness

Long will the dumb be at the gate of the deaf (No. 1].

Death

He who is dead will not be seen soon (No. 2).

Through the gates of death we may view a better world [Mod, no. 36].

Deceit

Hypocrisy is natural to the deceitful (No. 8).

He is not as easily deceived who has been forewarned [Mod, no. 15].

Desire

He who will not take what he can get may not have what he wishes [Mod, no. 7].

Diligence

Two parts of success [could be proper] diligence [Mod, no. 5).

The drop will perforate the stone (No. 22].

Dishonesty

It is not easy to rob a thief (No. 14].

Education

He who takes learning let him keep it (No. 4).

Keep securely what you learn (No. 6).

Odious is a scholar without books (No. 10).

It is natural for the learned to have a library (No. 17).

Better education than perfect wealth (No. 20].

Fame

Happy is he who obtains a good name, unless he is a monkey [Mod, no. 2].

Fear

None are timid but that run away (No. 13].

Flattery

Woe to him who flatters everyone (No. 2).

Great is the poison of the flatterer (No. 3].

Folly

Every foolish person is an enemy (No. 2).

There are many kinds of folly (No. 3].

Food

A man is feeble without nourishment (No. 2).

The best food may be milk [Mod, no. 8].

Friendship

In distress will the faithful friend be seen (No. 5].

God

What man does God will judge (No. 5).

It is not the property of God that is disowned (No. 18].

Good

He who does good deserves good (No. 2).

An art above many other arts is to be artful in goodness [Mod, no. 4).

Many men can do much good (No. 10].

Gossip

A story hopefully loses nothing by being repeated [Mod, no. 9].

Hair

Hair by hair the head becomes bald, (No. 5].

Honour

In every honour there is respect (No. 16].

Hope

Many a hope in vain (No. 4].

Humility

The wiser the man the more humble he is (No. 7].

Inconsistency

To throw brine into the sea (No. 4).

To show the path to one that knows it (No. 13].

Independence

Let every boat stand on its own bottom (No. 4).

Let everyone stand on his own feet (No. 5].

Intemperance

Excess of anything is not good (No. 5].

Jealousy

Bare is the cheek of the jealous (No. 5].

Jokes

Do not joke with an enemy (No. 4].

Laziness

The idle must have something to do (No. 23].

Liberality

He who distributes to the many, let him do it kindly (No. 2).

He who has distributed has obtained heaven (No. 3).

He who has nothing cannot be liberal (No. 14].

Life

It will not do to trust to long life (No. 8].

Love

If love could see its weakness it would die of fright (No. 43].

Memory

The memory of a child is good (No. 4].

Misfortune

The unlucky will get a thorn in his porridge (No. 6].

Music

All musicians are brothers (No. 2). [Of course not.]

Do not expect to find every musician wise (No. 8).

It is not with an axe that the violin is played (No. 9].

Necessity

The want of the spring is not felt until it is dry (No. 20].

Old age

The best of the aged is his advice (No. 4].

Patience

The strength of the bee its patience (No. 8].

Perjury

Odious is he who commits perjury until no one believes (No. 2).

Play

Better play than fight (No. 8).

Play not till harm comes (No. 9).

A cat will not play after she is a year old (No. 10).

The best play is respectable *.

Power

Let all do what noble they can [Mod, no. 4).

Handy is every skilful (No. 7].

Practice

Sound use may make masters [Mod, no. 4).

The best custom is rectitude (No. 13).

The best habit is to improve one's self (No. 14].

Praise

Let all praise the bridge that carries them over (No. 5].

Pride

Proud are ducks in the rain (No. 3).

Do not seek dignity from pride (No. 14].

Promise

A youth's promise is like the froth of water (No. 7].

Protection

The best place of defence is a sufficient distance (No. 2].

Prudence

Before beginning see the end (No. 4).

Every prudent one is wise (No. 5).

Long consideration is hopefully better than violence [Mod, no. 9].

Respect

What God appoints let man respect (No. 2].

Revenge

He that would revenge heavily on his foe let him conduct himself uprightly (No. 2] Unsavoury is the revenge of the unskilful. *

Sickness

Too much sickness does no good (No. 15).

In a major disease there is danger [Mod, no. 21].

Sleep

Not much good may be expected from oversleeping [Mod, no. 8].

Success

He who would succeed let him ask the consent of idleness (No. 1].

The devil

Badly will the devil keep his servant (No. 3).

The devil is civil as long as he is coaxed (No. 4].

The tongue

The strength of a woman is her tongue (No. 5].

Threats

Odious is he who threatens everyone and whom no one fears (No. 1].

Time

It is not easy to hide from time (No. 4].

Virtue

There is nothing without some virtue in it (No. 3].

War

The religion of the devil is to instigate war (No. 1).

There is hope for a man from war, but not from the grave (No. 2).

Cold is the liquid of the slaughter, (No. 3).

In every warfare there is anxiety (No. 4].

Weakness

There is no weak thing without its strength (No. 3].

Wealth

The best wealth is wisdom (No. 10].

Wickedness

In all sin there is deep folly [Mod, no. 44].

Wisdom

The father of wisdom is memory and his mother is reflection (No. 23].

Work

The best work is to do good (No. 3].

Youth

Blows received in youth are felt in old age (No. 7).

One strength of the young is obedience [Mod, no. 8].

Contents


Welsh proverbs of Wales, Literature  

Roberts, T. R. comp. The Proverbs of Wales. Pennmaenmawr, North Wales: T. R. Roberts, 1885.

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