The comment about the unsmiling lion is attributed to the 10th-century Arabic poet al-Mutanabbi (915 – 965). I heard it on a podcast called “Arabic Qahwa.” The line has a zesty zing to it that marks it as an old saying to be handed down indefinitely on the tongues of hoary elders, delivered with narrowed eyes and sagacious nods.
Old “Chinese” sayings abound in English. I’m not sure they’re all Chinese, or old, or even much said, but I have a favorite:
Whatever its origin, the saying bucks me up by validating a penchant for being ruled by grammar. The fewest words that are right can say enough barely, and leave the rest clearly understood. Excepting poetry, that’s good speech.
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