Silence is golden. All that shines is not gold. We’ll walk in fields of gold. The yellow metal pops up in so many contexts, older or newer, in poetry or prose, in speeches, in lyrics and in every day conversations. Usually it stands for value, for priceless ideas like time, love, friendship etc. However, there are some quotes coming from famous people in history that treat gold in a deeper way.
The first example comes from a 19th century lady writer, Marguerite Gardiner – countess of Blessington: “Genius is the gold in the mine; talent is the miner who brings it out”. This phrase refers to the idea that one must not rely entirely on what God and a good set of genes have offered, but put in some hard work to exploit those gifts. The countess had quite the easy life since marrying the earl of Blessington, as they traveled all over Europe: Avignon, Genoa, Naples, Florence, so you may wonder how she got to have such a view on life. Well, the Blessingtons were host to some of the most important figures of their age, such as Lord Byron and Benjamin Disraeli (who actually wrote one of his most important works while staying with them).
Next we look at some words coming from the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, Jonathan Swift: “It is in men, as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not.” The reference here is to how a person sometimes discovers, often unexpectedly, that they are really good at something or that they have an extraordinary capacity for love and kindness. As gold many times came as a surprise to its owners, so a person can find themselves in situations that bring out parts of their personality previously ignored.
On a rather funnier note, the Zen branch of the Buddhist religion has some amusing things to say about itself: “Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold and dung. Before you understand it, it’s like gold; after you understand it, it’s like dung.” Beside the humorous note of it, this saying reminds us that we tend to put some notions on a pedestal and glorify them, when in fact they are more useful to us if we practice them and integrate them in our lives.
Finally, the oldest quote in this series comes from Ovid, the Roman poet: “As the yellow gold is tried in fire, so the faith of friendship must be seen in adversity.” This quote hides nothing from the reader, as, indeed, there are many other proverbs and sayings in this line, such as “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. Conversely, testing the purity of gold using fire is still considered a highly accurate method.