Cliche Sunday

Another Sunday and more clichés!  I am in a rather good mood, but somehow my clichés are a bit dark tonight. I have picked some classic proverbs, and it’s not my fault that they somehow have a political slant……

power corrupts, absolute power corrupts  absolutely— no guessing here, it means exactly what it says.  Giving all the power to one person is a recipe for disaster.  The first iteration of this phrase comes from 1770, indicating the power of “absolute” monarchs in London. But the examples go far back as the Roman Emperors, who declared themselves gods; and Egyptian rulers, who also said they were gods. This continues up through history with Napoleon Bonaparte, who declared himself an emperor; and Hitler, who tried to conquer Europe.  Baron John Acton expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”*

revenge is a dish best served cold: it can be far more satisfying to think out your vengeance and take it in cold blood.  It seems likely that this was French in origin, as its earliest print version is an English translation of Eugène Sue’s novel, Memoirs of Matilda, in 1846. The phrase has been oft used, in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949); The Godfather (1969); and, of course, in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn (1982) where it was presented as an old Klingon proverb.

speak softly and carry a big stick: the idea of using caution and nonaggression, but be capable of delivering violence if it doesn’t work. This phrase, as most of us know, came from President Theodore Roosevelt: 9

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.

Roosevelt suggested that the phrase came from West Africa, however there is no evidence of that. Whether he traveled to a little known area and heard it there, or thought it might sound better if he claimed to not have made it up himself; will be lost to history.

and, finally:

tomorrow is another day: to think about it later. Famously from Gone With the Wind, the last line by Scarlett O’Hara:

“Tara. Home. I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day”*

Also a 1951 film starring Steve Cochran and Ruth Roman. However, I do believe Scarlett is most remembered for the cliché.




Filed under Cliche Sunday

3 responses to “Cliche Sunday

  1. A lovely selection of phrases – dark but truisms! I like the ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ – fantastic quote.
    And Kind Hearts and Coronets is one of my favourite films of all time, definitely one of the best Ealing Comedies along with The Lady Killers (original version, not the Coen Brother’s.)
    My favourite line in Kind Hearts? Naughty, murderous Louis has shot the hot air balloon of a suffragette rival heir to the family fortune. As she plummets to the ground he says,
    ‘I shot an arrow in the air.
    She fell to earth in Berkeley Square.’
    Darkly wonderful, that film 🙂


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