NaPoWriMo Goes All Proverbial

Day 22 of NaPoWriMo explores proverbs from different cultures. This prompt was fun and stretched me some. If you want to spend a little while today exploring how other culture’s proverbs cryptically and eliptically convey certain home truths, then do visit the link that is at the bottom of the quote explaining today’s prompt. What really fascinated me was how geographical near neighbours could have a very similar allusion, but have subtle differences in meaning. Compare and contrast the Armenian “Stop ironing my head.” (i.e. stop anoying me) with the Turkish “Don’t iron my head!” (i.e. don’t go on and on about it!). One implies an active command and lets you know how unhappy they are with you, while the other feels more passive, like a plea to just stop talking over and over about a topic, like your granny who keeps repeating the same story.)

Our (optional) prompt for the day asks you to engage with different languages and cultures through the lens of proverbs and idiomatic phrases. Many different cultures have proverbs or phrases that have largely the same meaning, but are expressed in different ways. For example, in English we say “his bark is worse than his bite,” but the same idea in Spanish would be stated as “the lion isn’t as fierce as his painting.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to find an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture, and use it as the jumping-off point for your poem. Here’s are a few lists to help get you started: One, two, three.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

The poem I finally wrote is a mash up of three different culture’s turns of phrase – Hebrew, Ukrainian, and Estonian.

At the End of the World
 
turn left.
It’s generally a good rule of thumb
if not a finally tuned tool for navigation.
 
You’ll find my cottage is at the edge,
one and half country miles from
nowhere everywhere.
 
The lights are on but no one’s home.
The door’s open. Give the dog a bone.
Feed a coin to the meter.
 
You’re very welcome.
Turn right to find your way back
from the edge of the end of the world.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

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