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Best Famous Proverb Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Proverb poems. This is a select list of the best famous Proverb poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Proverb poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of proverb poems.

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Written by Geoffrey Chaucer | Create an image from this poem

The Cooks Tale

THE Cook of London, while the Reeve thus spake, For joy he laugh'd and clapp'd him on the back: "Aha!" quoth he, "for Christes passion, This Miller had a sharp conclusion, Upon this argument of herbergage.
* *lodging Well saide Solomon in his language, Bring thou not every man into thine house, For harbouring by night is perilous.
*Well ought a man avised for to be* *a man should take good heed* Whom that he brought into his privity.
I pray to God to give me sorrow and care If ever, since I highte* Hodge of Ware, *was called Heard I a miller better *set a-work*; *handled He had a jape* of malice in the derk.
*trick But God forbid that we should stinte* here, *stop And therefore if ye will vouchsafe to hear A tale of me, that am a poore man, I will you tell as well as e'er I can A little jape that fell in our city.
" Our Host answer'd and said; "I grant it thee.
Roger, tell on; and look that it be good, For many a pasty hast thou letten blood, And many a Jack of Dover<1> hast thou sold, That had been twice hot and twice cold.
Of many a pilgrim hast thou Christe's curse, For of thy parsley yet fare they the worse.
That they have eaten in thy stubble goose: For in thy shop doth many a fly go loose.
Now tell on, gentle Roger, by thy name, But yet I pray thee be not *wroth for game*; *angry with my jesting* A man may say full sooth in game and play.
" "Thou sayst full sooth," quoth Roger, "by my fay; But sooth play quad play,<2> as the Fleming saith, And therefore, Harry Bailly, by thy faith, Be thou not wroth, else we departe* here, *part company Though that my tale be of an hostelere.
* *innkeeper But natheless, I will not tell it yet, But ere we part, y-wis* thou shalt be quit.
"<3> *assuredly And therewithal he laugh'd and made cheer,<4> And told his tale, as ye shall after hear.
Notes to the Prologue to the Cook's Tale 1.
Jack of Dover: an article of cookery.
(Transcriber's note: suggested by some commentators to be a kind of pie, and by others to be a fish) 2.
Sooth play quad play: true jest is no jest.
It may be remembered that each pilgrim was bound to tell two stories; one on the way to Canterbury, the other returning.
Made cheer: French, "fit bonne mine;" put on a pleasant countenance.
A prentice whilom dwelt in our city, And of a craft of victuallers was he: Galliard* he was, as goldfinch in the shaw**, *lively **grove Brown as a berry, a proper short fellaw: With lockes black, combed full fetisly.
* *daintily And dance he could so well and jollily, That he was called Perkin Revellour.
He was as full of love and paramour, As is the honeycomb of honey sweet; Well was the wenche that with him might meet.
At every bridal would he sing and hop; He better lov'd the tavern than the shop.
For when there any riding was in Cheap,<1> Out of the shoppe thither would he leap, And, till that he had all the sight y-seen, And danced well, he would not come again; And gather'd him a meinie* of his sort, *company of fellows To hop and sing, and make such disport: And there they *sette steven* for to meet *made appointment* To playen at the dice in such a street.
For in the towne was there no prentice That fairer coulde cast a pair of dice Than Perkin could; and thereto *he was free *he spent money liberally Of his dispence, in place of privity.
* where he would not be seen* That found his master well in his chaffare,* *merchandise For oftentime he found his box full bare.
For, soothely, a prentice revellour, That haunteth dice, riot, and paramour, His master shall it in his shop abie*, *suffer for All* have he no part of the minstrelsy.
*although For theft and riot they be convertible, All can they play on *gitern or ribible.
* *guitar or rebeck* Revel and truth, as in a low degree, They be full wroth* all day, as men may see.
*at variance This jolly prentice with his master bode, Till he was nigh out of his prenticehood, All were he snubbed* both early and late, *rebuked And sometimes led with revel to Newgate.
But at the last his master him bethought, Upon a day when he his paper<2> sought, Of a proverb, that saith this same word; Better is rotten apple out of hoard, Than that it should rot all the remenant: So fares it by a riotous servant; It is well lesse harm to let him pace*, *pass, go Than he shend* all the servants in the place.
*corrupt Therefore his master gave him a quittance, And bade him go, with sorrow and mischance.
And thus this jolly prentice had his leve*: *desire Now let him riot all the night, or leave*.
*refrain And, for there is no thief without a louke,<3> That helpeth him to wasten and to souk* *spend Of that he bribe* can, or borrow may, *steal Anon he sent his bed and his array Unto a compere* of his owen sort, *comrade That loved dice, and riot, and disport; And had a wife, that held *for countenance* *for appearances* A shop, and swived* for her sustenance.
*prostituted herself .
<4> Notes to the Cook's Tale 1.
Cheapside, where jousts were sometimes held, and which was the great scene of city revels and processions.
His paper: his certificate of completion of his apprenticeship.
Louke: The precise meaning of the word is unknown, but it is doubtless included in the cant term "pal".
The Cook's Tale is unfinished in all the manuscripts; but in some, of minor authority, the Cook is made to break off his tale, because "it is so foul," and to tell the story of Gamelyn, on which Shakespeare's "As You Like It" is founded.
The story is not Chaucer's, and is different in metre, and inferior in composition to the Tales.
It is supposed that Chaucer expunged the Cook's Tale for the same reason that made him on his death- bed lament that he had written so much "ribaldry.

Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Old Deuteronomy

 Old Deuteronomy's lived a long time;
He's a Cat who has lived many lives in succession.
He was famous in proverb and famous in rhyme A long while before Queen Victoria's accession.
Old Deuteronomy's buried nine wives And more--I am tempted to say, ninety-nine; And his numerous progeny prospers and thrives And the village is proud of him in his decline.
At the sight of that placid and bland physiognomy, When he sits in the sun on the vicarage wall, The Oldest Inhabitant croaks: "Well, of all .
Can it be .
really! .
Ho! hi! Oh, my eye! My mind may be wandering, but I confess I believe it is Old Deuteronomy!" Old Deuteronomy sits in the street, He sits in the High Street on market day; The bullocks may bellow, the sheep they may bleat, But the dogs and the herdsmen will turn them away.
The cars and the lorries run over the kerb, And the villagers put up a notice: ROAD CLOSED-- So that nothing untoward may chance to distrub Deuteronomy's rest when he feels so disposed Or when he's engaged in domestic economy: And the Oldest Inhabitant croaks: "Well, of all .
Can it be .
really! .
Ho! hi! Oh, my eye! My sight's unreliable, but I can guess That the cause of the trouble is Old Deuteronomy!" Old Deuteronomy lies on the floor Of the Fox and French Horn for his afternoon sleep; And when the men say: "There's just time for one more," Then the landlady from her back parlour will peep And say: "New then, out you go, by the back door, For Old Deuteronomy mustn't be woken-- I'll have the police if there's any uproar"-- And out they all shuffle, without a word spoken.
The digestive repose of that feline's gastronomy Must never be broken, whatever befall: And the Oldest Inhabitant croaks: "Well, of all .
Can it be .
really! .
Ho! hi! Oh, my eye! My legs may be tottery, I must go slow And be careful of Old Deuteronomy!" Of the awefull battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles: together with some account of the participation of the Pugs and the Poms, and the intervention of the Great Rumpuscat The Pekes and the Pollicles, everyone knows, Are proud and implacable passionate foes; It is always the same, wherever one goes.
And the Pugs and the Poms, although most people say That they do not like fighting, yet once in a way, They will now and again join in to the fray And they Bark bark bark bark Bark bark BARK BARK Until you can hear them all over the Park.
Now on the occasion of which I shall speak Almost nothing had happened for nearly a week (And that's a long time for a Pol or a Peke).
The big Police Dog was away from his beat-- I don't know the reason, but most people think He'd slipped into the Wellington Arms for a drink-- And no one at all was about on the street When a Peke and a Pollicle happened to meet.
They did not advance, or exactly retreat, But they glared at each other, and scraped their hind feet, And they started to Bark bark bark bark Bark bark BARK BARK Until you can hear them all over the Park.
Now the Peke, although people may say what they please, Is no British Dog, but a Heathen Chinese.
And so all the Pekes, when they heard the uproar, Some came to the window, some came to the door; There were surely a dozen, more likely a score.
And together they started to grumble and wheeze In their huffery-snuffery Heathen Chinese.
But a terrible din is what Pollicles like, For your Pollicle Dog is a dour Yorkshire tyke, And his braw Scottish cousins are snappers and biters, And every dog-jack of them notable fighters; And so they stepped out, with their pipers in order, Playing When the Blue Bonnets Came Over the Border.
Then the Pugs and the Poms held no longer aloof, But some from the balcony, some from the roof, Joined in To the din With a Bark bark bark bark Bark bark BARK BARK Until you can hear them all over the Park.
Now when these bold heroes together assembled, That traffic all stopped, and the Underground trembled, And some of the neighbours were so much afraid That they started to ring up the Fire Brigade.
When suddenly, up from a small basement flat, Why who should stalk out but the GREAT RUMPUSCAT.
His eyes were like fireballs fearfully blazing, He gave a great yawn, and his jaws were amazing; And when he looked out through the bars of the area, You never saw anything fiercer or hairier.
And what with the glare of his eyes and his yawning, The Pekes and the Pollicles quickly took warning.
He looked at the sky and he gave a great leap-- And they every last one of them scattered like sheep.
And when the Police Dog returned to his beat, There wasn't a single one left in the street.
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

It is not Always May

 No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano.
Spanish Proverb The sun is bright,--the air is clear, The darting swallows soar and sing.
And from the stately elms I hear The bluebird prophesying Spring.
So blue you winding river flows, It seems an outlet from the sky, Where waiting till the west-wind blows, The freighted clouds at anchor lie.
All things are new;--the buds, the leaves, That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest, And even the nest beneath the eaves;-- There are no birds in last year's nest! All things rejoice in youth and love, The fulness of their first delight! And learn from the soft heavens above The melting tenderness of night.
Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme, Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay; Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime, For oh, it is not always May! Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth, To some good angel leave the rest; For Time will teach thee soon the truth, There are no birds in last year's nest!
Written by Vachel Lindsay | Create an image from this poem

To the United States Senate

 And must the Senator from Illinois 
Be this squat thing, with blinking, half-closed eyes? 
This brazen gutter idol, reared to power 
Upon a leering pyramid of lies? 

And must the Senator from Illinois 
Be the world's proverb of successful shame, 
Dazzling all State house flies that steal and steal, 
Who, when the sad State spares them, count it fame? 

If once or twice within his new won hall 
His vote had counted for the broken men; 
If in his early days he wrought some good — 
We might a great soul's sins forgive him then.
But must the Senator from Illinois Be vindicated by fat kings of gold? And must he be belauded by the smirched, The sleek, uncanny chiefs in lies grown old? Be warned, O wanton ones, who shielded him — Black wrath awaits.
You all shall eat the dust.
You dare not say: "To-morrow will bring peace; Let us make merry, and go forth in lust.
" What will you trading frogs do on a day When Armageddon thunders thro' the land; When each sad patriot rises, mad with shame, His ballot or his musket in his hand? In the distracted states from which you came The day is big with war hopes fierce and strange; Our iron Chicagos and our grimy mines Rumble with hate and love and solemn change.
Too many weary men shed honest tears, Ground by machines that give the Senate ease.
Too many little babes with bleeding hands Have heaped the fruits of empire on your knees.
And swine within the Senate in this day, When all the smothering by-streets weep and wail; When wisdom breaks the hearts of her best sons; When kingly men, voting for truth, may fail: — These are a portent and a call to arms.
Our protest turns into a battle cry: "Our shame must end, our States be free and clean; And in this war we choose to live and die.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

An Evening in Dandaloo

 It was while we held our races -- 
Hurdles, sprints and steplechases -- 
Up in Dandaloo, 
That a crowd of Sydney stealers, 
Jockeys, pugilists and spielers 
Brought some horses, real heelers, 
Came and put us through.
Beat our nags and won our money, Made the game by np means funny, Made us rather blue; When the racing was concluded, Of our hard-earned coin denuded Dandaloonies sat and brooded There in Dandaloo.
* * * * * Night came down on Johnson's shanty Where the grog was no way scanty, And a tumult grew Till some wild, excited person Galloped down the township cursing, "Sydney push have mobbed Macpherson, Roll up, Dandaloo!" Great St Denis! what commotion! Like the rush of stormy ocean Fiery horsemen flew.
Dust and smoke and din and rattle, Down the street they spurred their cattle To the war-cry of the battle, "Wade in, Dandaloo!" So the boys might have their fight out, Johnson blew the bar-room light out, Then, in haste, withdrew.
And in darkness and in doubting Raged the conflict and the shouting, "Give the Sydney push a clouting, Go it, Dandaloo!" Jack Macpherson seized a bucket, Every head he saw he struck it -- Struck in earnest, too; And a man from Lower Wattle, Whom a shearer tried to throttle, Hit out freely with a bottle There in Dandaloo.
Skin and hair were flying thickly, When a light was fetched, and quickly Brought a fact to view -- On the scene of the diversion Every single, solid person Come along to help Macpherson -- All were Dandaloo! When the list of slain was tabled -- Some were drunk and some disabled -- Still we found it true.
In the darkness and the smother We'd been belting one another; Jack Macpherson bashed his brother There in Dandaloo.
So we drank, and all departed -- How the "mobbing" yarn was started No one ever knew -- And the stockmen tell the story Of that conflict fierce and gory, How he fought for love and glory Up in Dandaloo.
It's a proverb now, or near it -- At the races you can hear it, At the dog-fights, too! Every shrieking, dancing drover As the canines topple over Yells applause to Grip or Rover, "Give him 'Dandaloo'!" And the teamster slowly toiling Through the deep black country, soiling Wheels and axles, too, Lays the whip on Spot and Banker, Rouses Tarboy with a flanker -- "Redman! Ginger! Heave there! Yank her Wade in, Dandaloo!"

Written by Dorothy Parker | Create an image from this poem

After Spanish Proverb

 Oh, mercifullest one of all,
Oh, generous as dear,
None lived so lowly, none so small,
Thou couldst withhold thy tear:

How swift, in pure compassion,
How meek in charity,
To offer friendship to the one
Who begged but love of thee!

Oh, gentle word, and sweetest said!
Oh, tender hand, and first
To hold the warm, delicious bread
To lips burned black of thirst.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem



Mai non vo' più cantar, com' io soleva.


Never more shall I sing, as I have sung:
For still she heeded not; and I was scorn'd:
So e'en in loveliest spots is trouble found.
Unceasingly to sigh is no relief.
Already on the Alp snow gathers round:
Already day is near; and I awake.
An affable and modest air is sweet;
And in a lovely lady that she be
Noble and dignified, not proud and cold,
Well pleases it to find.
Love o'er his empire rules without a sword.
He who has miss'd his way let him turn back:
Who has no home the heath must be his bed:
Who lost or has not gold,
Will sate his thirst at the clear crystal spring.
I trusted in Saint Peter, not so now;
Let him who can my meaning understand.
A harsh rule is a heavy weight to bear.
[Pg 100]I melt but where I must, and stand alone.
I think of him who falling died in Po;
Already thence the thrush has pass'd the brook
Come, see if I say sooth! No more for me.
A rock amid the waters is no joke,
Nor birdlime on the twig.
Enough my grief
When a superfluous pride
In a fair lady many virtues hides.
There is who answereth without a call;
There is who, though entreated, fails and flies:
There is who melts 'neath ice:
There is who day and night desires his death.
Love who loves you, is an old proverb now.
Well know I what I say.
But let it pass;
'Tis meet, at their own cost, that men should learn.
A modest lady wearies her best friend.
Good figs are little known.
To me it seems
Wise to eschew things hazardous and high;
In any country one may be at ease.
Infinite hope below kills hope above;
And I at times e'en thus have been the talk.
My brief life that remains
There is who'll spurn not if to Him devote.
I place my trust in Him who rules the world,
And who his followers shelters in the wood,
That with his pitying crook
Me will He guide with his own flock to feed.
Haply not every one who reads discerns;
Some set the snare at times who take no spoil;
Who strains too much may break the bow in twain.
Let not the law be lame when suitors watch.
To be at ease we many a mile descend.
To-day's great marvel is to-morrow's scorn.
A veil'd and virgin loveliness is best.
Blessed the key which pass'd within my heart,
And, quickening my dull spirit, set it free
From its old heavy chain,
And from my bosom banish'd many a sigh.
Where most I suffer'd once she suffers now;
Her equal sorrows mitigate my grief;
[Pg 101]Thanks, then, to Love that I
Feel it no more, though he is still the same!
In silence words that wary are and wise;
The voice which drives from me all other care;
And the dark prison which that fair light hides:
As midnight on our hills the violets;
And the wild beasts within the walls who dwell;
The kind demeanour and the dear reserve;
And from two founts one stream which flow'd in peace
Where I desire, collected where I would.
Love and sore jealousy have seized my heart,
And the fair face whose guides
Conduct me by a plainer, shorter way
To my one hope, where all my torments end.
O treasured bliss, and all from thee which flows
Of peace, of war, or truce,
Never abandon me while life is left!
At my past loss I weep by turns and smile,
Because my faith is fix'd in what I hear.
The present I enjoy and better wait;
Silent, I count the years, yet crave their end,
And in a lovely bough I nestle so
That e'en her stern repulse I thank and praise,
Which has at length o'ercome my firm desire,
And inly shown me, I had been the talk,
And pointed at by hand: all this it quench'd.
So much am I urged on,
Needs must I own, thou wert not bold enough.
Who pierced me in my side she heals the wound,
For whom in heart more than in ink I write;
Who quickens me or kills,
And in one instant freezes me or fires.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

298. Prologue spoken at the Theatre of Dumfries

 NO song nor dance I bring from yon great city,
That queens it o’er our taste—the more’s the pity:
Tho’ by the bye, abroad why will you roam?
Good sense and taste are natives here at home:
But not for panegyric I appear,
I come to wish you all a good New Year!
Old Father Time deputes me here before ye,
Not for to preach, but tell his simple story:
The sage, grave Ancient cough’d, and bade me say,
“You’re one year older this important day,”
If wiser too—he hinted some suggestion,
But ’twould be rude, you know, to ask the question;
And with a would-be roguish leer and wink,
Said—“Sutherland, in one word, bid them Think!”

 Ye sprightly youths, quite flush with hope and spirit,
Who think to storm the world by dint of merit,
To you the dotard has a deal to say,
In his sly, dry, sententious, proverb way!
He bids you mind, amid your thoughtless rattle,
That the first blow is ever half the battle;
That tho’ some by the skirt may try to snatch him,
Yet by the foreclock is the hold to catch him;
That whether doing, suffering, or forbearing,
You may do miracles by persevering.
Last, tho’ not least in love, ye youthful fair, Angelic forms, high Heaven’s peculiar care! To you old Bald-pate smoothes his wrinkled brow, And humbly begs you’ll mind the important-Now! To crown your happiness he asks your leave, And offers, bliss to give and to receive.
For our sincere, tho’ haply weak endeavours, With grateful pride we own your many favours; And howsoe’er our tongues may ill reveal it, Believe our glowing bosoms truly feel it.
Written by Sir Thomas Wyatt | Create an image from this poem

Abide and Abide and Better Abide

 I abide and abide and better abide,
And after the old proverb, the happy day;
And ever my lady to me doth say,
"Let me alone and I will provide.
" I abide and abide and tarry the tide, And with abiding speed well ye may.
Thus do I abide I wot alway, Nother obtaining nor yet denied.
Ay me! this long abiding Seemeth to me, as who sayeth, A prolonging of a dying death, Or a refusing of a desir'd thing.
Much were it better for to be plain Than to say "abide" and yet shall not obtain.
Written by Sir Thomas Wyatt | Create an image from this poem

I Abide and Abide and Better Abide

 I abide and abide and better abide,
And after the old proverb, the happy day;
And ever my lady to me doth say,
'Let me alone and I will provide.
' I abide and abide and tarry the tide, And with abiding speed well ye may.
Thus do I abide I wot alway, Nother obtaining nor yet denied.
Ay me! this long abiding Seemeth to me, as who sayeth, A prolonging of a dying death, Or a refusing of a desir'd thing.
Much were it better for to be plain Than to say 'abide' and yet shall not obtain.