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Re: Red sky at night...

Posted by ESC on November 27, 2005

In Reply to: Red dawn posted by Greg Haley on November 27, 2005

: Origin or meaning of the phrase "red dawn"? In atlanta GA, at about 2:30 am the wind increased, and the by seemed as if dawn was arriving, yet quite clearly red, reflected beneath what seemed to be low lying clouds or smoke. Any folkloric or weather-wisdom relation to this phrase?

RED SKY AT NIGHT, SAILORS' DELIGHT; RED SKY AT MORNING, SAILORS TAKE WARNING. "One of today's better known weather proverbs, this saying appeared in the New Testament Gospel According to Matthew (A.C. c 65) as 'When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring.' The earliest mention outside the Bible gave only the proverb's second part, 'The skie was very red this mornyng. Ergo we are like to haue rayne or nyght,' and appeared in the 'Rule of Reason' by Thomas Wilson. Soon after, a version containing both parts was rendered as 'The element redde in the euenyng, the next daye fayr, but in the morning redd, wynde and rayne,' in 'Prognostication to Judge of the Weather by Leonard Digges. The English author Reginald Scot gave another version, combining both elements in 'The Discouerie of Witchcraft' : 'The skie being red at evening Foreshews a faire and clear morning; But if the morning riseth red, Of wind or raine we shall be sped.' A version comes closer to the modern appearing in R. Inwards's 'Weather Lore as 'Sky red in the morning Is a sailor's sure warning; Sky red at night Is the sailor's delight.' The current version with the word 'shepherd' substituted for 'sailor' was recorded in the magazine 'Punch' . Versions using 'sailor' and 'shepherd' (usually just the first or second part) were quoted in print frequently during the twentieth century." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).

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