Posted by Prof. on November 15, 1999
In Reply to: Still waters... posted by ESC on November 15, 1999
: : : : : I'd like to someone to explain in detail the phrase
'still waters run deep'
: : : : Quoting from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
: : : : Silent and quiet conspirators or traitors are most dangerous; barking dogs never bite; the fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.
: : : : "Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep:
: : : : And in his simple show he harbours treason.
: : : : The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb;
: : : : No, no, my sovereign, Gloucester is a man
: : : : Unsounded yet, and full of deep deceit."
: : : : Shakespeare: 2 Henry VI., III. f.
: : : STILL WATERS RUN DEEP. I have a more romantic view of the
phrase. There are two guys. One is showy (a "blow George") who talks
big, swears undying love, and sends flowers. The second is quiet
and faithful and considerate -- a fellow who's going to really and
truly stay around and love his girlfriend/wife forever. The woman
in question would be well advised to pick the second guy. He may
be quiet, but he has substance. It might be said of him that "still
waters run deep."
: : : Here's what Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman says: "Still waters run deep. Don't be fooled by appearances. Quiet people are likely to be passionate or complex, even though they don't show it. The proverb has been traced back to 'Cato's Morals' (about 1400) in 'Cursor Mundi' . In 1721, it was included in James Kelly's collection of proverbs. It was first cited in the United States in the 1768 'Works of William Smith' . 'Smooth waters run deep' is a variant. The proverb has variants in other languages.(Russian) 'Devils breed in still waters." Titelman also includes the Shakespeare quote.
: : Yeah. I've often heard people use the phrase in a wishful-thinking mode, hoping to invest the unexpressive and stolid with unseen virtues and unacknowledged depth. Give me the bubbly and kinetic: sometimes, after all, a still exterior masks a still interior.
: That reminds me of a college memory. I had to take a class from a professor that I didn't like. I had to hide my feelings. My professor said (and I remember the exact words), "Your face is a mask and you look totally devoid of all human emotion." I passed the class and got my degree, by the way.
Congratulations, your degree 'set you up' for an interesting career in journalism and an apparently unstressed career in government. You did go boy, you did good.