Posted by ESC on March 16, 2004
In Reply to: Re: Live horse and youll get grass posted by Shae on March 16, 2004
: : : : What does it mean and where did it originate.please.
: : : I've never heard it. Could it be "live like a horse and you'll get grass"? Along the same lines as "Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas." The way you live influences the person you are and the things that happen to you.
: : The phrase is 'Live horse and you'll get grass' and the only place I've ever heard it was in Ireland - the noth - about 40 years ago. I'm not even sure what I understood it to eman but I'll ruminate on it.
: Commas after 'live' and 'horse' add some clarity. 'Live, horse, and you'll get grass.' Also 'Live, horse, and you'll eat grass.' Although there's plenty of grass available, the horse can't have any until some time in the future if it lives long enough. The expression is used in the context of vague promises of future benefits. E.g., a Government might promise increases in Social Welfare payments 'at the appropriate time.'
Like "pie in the sky"?
PIE IN THE SKY - "scornful characterization of liberal or populist promises. In the vocabulary of rhetorical counterattack - 'empty promises,' 'cruel demagoguery,' 'callous vote-buying' - none has been more durable than 'pie in the sky.' In the face of this withering return fire, even the word 'promise' has disappeared from campaign oratory, supplanted by the more solemn 'pledge.'
The origin of 'pie of the sky' was supplied the author by laborlore specialist Archie Green, a professor of English at Ohio State University. The phrase was coined around 1910 in 'The Preacher and the Slave,' a composition by legendary labor hero Joe Hill, which became part of the widely distributed 'little red songbooks' of the Industrial Workers of the World (the I.W.W., or 'Wobblies').
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
Professor Green rightly calls this phrase 'the most significant Wobbly contribution to the American vocabulary.' Conservative speakers have been seizing on it for denunciation for three generations."
From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 575-576.