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Libyan Proverbs
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Libyan Proverbs

The naked man in the caravan            has peace of mind. He whose coveringbelongs to others is uncovered.    He who has luck will have the winds                    blow him his firewood.He whose trousers are made of dry grass should not warm himself at the fire.He howled before going mad.                He led the lion by the ear.Like the sparrow, he wanted to imitate                the pigeon's walk but lost his own.Walk with sandals till you get good shoes.                Where the turban moves, there movesthe territory. Men meet    but mountains don't. Always taking out [End Page 16]                 without giving back, even the mountains    will be broken down. Penny piled on pennywill make a heap. Only the unlucky coin            is left in the purse. As long as a human being liveshe will learn.            Learn to shave by shaving orphans.He who is to be hanged can insult the Pasha.                In the house of a man who has been hangeddo not talk of rope.The small donkey is the one everybody rides.            Fish eats fish                    and he who has no might dies.                        My belly before my children. [End Page 17]

Eliza Griswold

Eliza Griswold, a fellow at the New America Foundation, is a poet, journalist, and author of The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Islam and Christianity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2010).