Proverbial Thursday – Global Proverbs and Sayings

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.  Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

This week the proverb comes from Denmark:

“The horse one cannot have, always has a fault.”

Confucius (551–479 BC) was a teacher, editor, politician, and Chinese philosopher. Confucius teachings deeply influenced East Asian life and thought.The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity  and this week, I am delighted to continue the series of Confucian sayings:

“I am not bothered by the fact that I am unknown. I am bothered when I do not know others.”― Confucius

Something Proverbial to Think About


18 thoughts on “Proverbial Thursday – Global Proverbs and Sayings”

  1. Een paard dat stormt en een meisje dat wil trouwen zijn niet tegen te houwen.
    You can’t prevent the inevitable. Literal translation; a horse out of control and a girl wanting to marry are impossible to stop.


    1. Thanks for that contribution, Gerard. A Dutch proverb, no doubt and one that speaks or a past era where horses were much more a part of our daily lives. I am not sure girls would like to be compared to a horse out of control these days. But I can see that the underlying meaning is to do with the crazy feelings of love that come from the heart and not so much from clear thinking or the “head.” And many Dutch girls I know are headstrong and definitely know what they want in life!!!


  2. I found the first quote harder to interpret than the second one. Sounds like what we want may not necessarily be what we always hoped for, or that it maybe not necessarily make us happy and satisfied. “…horse has a fault”. That part intrigued me and got me wondering.

    The Confucious quote is gold. I would be scared if I didn’t know the intentions of the people around me. Then again, I tend to assume they are nice people and have the best of intentions. Being unknown often gives one a sense of anonymity. Perhaps then we can feel the freedom to be ourselves, and stop comparing ourselves to others who don’t hawk over us – or less room to feel insecure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the response Mabel.The Danish proverb is a tricky one and perhaps some of its true meaning is lost in translation? I shall have to confer with my Danish friend about that. I took that that proverb to be a way of dealing with jealousies, much as you indicated and also the fact that very few things, if any, are completely perfect! Some of us get fired up if we can’t have something and that makes us desire or work to get it, even more than before. It is the unattainable that seems to be most desirable, somehow. Before we have the unattainable things as ours, we covet them and think they must be perfect, when in reality, they turn out to be similarly imperfect to what is familiar to us! Therefore, we can stamp out desire if we keep this proverb in mind!

      As usual, I really love the Confucian proverb. It is a wonderful insight into human nature. He is not desiring celebrity status,or fame, yet he thinks it is problematic if he has hidden his true self away from others, as a recluse might, or at least, have voluntarily isolated themself from the community. We are part of a community, at a family level, at a street level, corporate or business level, and if we go wider, at a national or global level, and to interact within our community and communicate with it enriches our lives and those of others. Confucian seemed often to consider the feelings or emotions of others and how our actions affected them, and perhaps he might have been doing this with this saying? Should we make it our business to know our neighbours, colleagues and communities? We can learn so much from these interactions.

      Mind you Mabel, I do agree with your comment re anonymity. A socially anxious person I know felt uncomfortable catching public transport or making telephone calls/talking to retailers in person, yet he went overseas for some months, independently, confidently catching planes, eating out, sightseeing and such like, because he felt that their was no one who knew him in that locale to judge him. He was completely anonymous.

      Definitely something to ponder about. What did Confucius mean?


      1. Jealousies. Another way to look at that Danish proverb. Jealousy is the root of all evil. It was a bit of a confusing quote to me, and I think it does depend on the perspective we look at it in order to make sense of it.

        Confucius is really remarkable. Community is certainly everywhere more than we realise. And for most of our lives, we will never really get to know most of each person around us within our community that well. Yet we all trust one another to mind their own business and go about our lives.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Confucius was confusing sometimes and I guess that is why his proverbs made you think more. 😀

    “The horse one cannot have, always has a fault.” = Sometimes when you want something, but can’t have it, you find fault with it to justify your reasons for not getting it and so you can feel better about it. ???

    “I am not bothered by the fact that I am unknown. I am bothered when I do not know others.”― Confucius See what I mean by confusing? Maybe I didn’t have enough coffee yet. 😆

    You do know how to make us think Amanda. Have a good day sweetie! 😀 ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HI Sonel,
    Thanks so much for your response! I agree with you about the Danish proverb. Many of us feel envious of others, for something they have that we don’t or can’t attain, and this proverb attempts to lessen the power that form of desire has upon our actions by de-valuing the product of the envy. I feel it urges us to be content with our lot and not go to drastic lengths to get ahead?
    Confucius wants us to communicate with others, and get to know them. Some people tend to talk so much about themselves, forgetting that others may want also to share? In this context, his quote makes sense? What do you think, Sonel?


  5. To me, the Danish saying strikes as one that someone might say when utterly disappointed at having been unsuccessful in acquiring something that they really wanted – horse, or whatever. It is a way of consoling oneself, by finding faults in the desired item/horse. If you convince yourself that the thing/horse is faulty or defective in some way, its loss will seem so much less.
    And now we get to Confucius. Oh dear, he does make us think, doesn’t he? I think he meant that fame meant nothing to him: it would not further his own education or knowledge in any way, But not knowing about other people and what is happening in their lives. would be severely limiting to someone with a quest for knowledge of the world and its people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree with you, Millie. He sounds like someone who is above the craving for fame and celebrity status. In fact, he probably despised it, as it would mean he could no longer have a thirst for knowledge but would be far so focused on talking about himself! You probably know more about him than I do, Millie from your history and teaching days?


  6. I’ve only come across Confucius in general conversation within the family (before I encountered him on your blog, that is!). My two daughters like to delve into everything from philosophy to ancient civilisations and cultures – including people of the past. I can’t say we’ve discussed Confucius more than in passing, and I’ve learnt more about his sayings from reading your great posts. The rhyme I quoted was just something we used to chant when we were children back in the 50s and 60s. I’ve no idae why – we never learned about him in school. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The emphasis wasn’t really on Eastern cultures in the curriculum back then. We knew about him and the famous Golden Rule, but my high school was the very first in Australia to teach an Asian language and that was in the mid 70’s!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I imagine many aspects of the school curriculum are different in Australia and the UK. Here, French continues to be the main foreign language taught,followed by German and Spanish, whereas in Australia, isn’t it Japanese now? Confucius would have arisen only when discussing proverbs as we didn’t do anything in my day about Chinese culture. Which Asian language did you learn, by the way?


          1. Few places here teach the eastern languages, although a few have started to do either Chinese or Japanese. It’s mostly European languages, with specialist evening classes teaching Russian or the Scandinavian or eastern languages. I envy you the Japanese! Our Australian guide/pilot on our flight out to the Barrier Reef spoke fluent Japanese – and was married to a Japanese woman. (He was the one who convinced me to go snorkelling with him and another big hulky guy, then told me afterwards there was a shark down there! He wasn’t joking, either. He had no idea of my great big shark phobia. Sorry – this has nothing whatsoever to do with languages!)


            1. Did you go snorkelling off Green Island or in the Whitsundays? Both are lovely spots but yes, the sharks one can never be sure of…… As for the languages, I guess it makes sense for English people to learn European languages and for us to learn more Eastern languages, due to respective locations in the world. Mind you, LOTE takeup in Australia is very poor and most of us only learn a few basic phrases and words, and then forget it as we do not have an opportunity to practise it. I loved studying the languages and found Japanese surprisingly easy so I was very disappointed to change schools in my last two years to find that I could no longer study Japanese anymore. Now I am learning Danish/Norwegian which is an ongoing project in my leisure time!!


  7. Thought provoking indeed . I generally like to be anon . I can understand the story you told of the guy travelling abroad . The first strikes a note too ! Interestin seein other replies and thoughts here .


    1. Thanks Poppy, both for your visit and comment. I am intrigued by some of the sayings and proverbs that often have many layers of meaning and I am so fortunate to have readers here that contribute valuable insights and poignant comments. I hope you’ll enjoy future Proverbial Thursday posts. I also see you also have visited Iceland. A marvellous place and Thingvellir is magical don’t you think? Re the fellow and his experience abroad : so surprising that a strange place or a foreign country can give someone confidence. I guess it is like adopting a role or character in one’s head. No one judges as much because they don’t know your background story. I think this is an example of how one can “..feel like a stranger at home and at home in a strange place.”


Everyone is important. What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.