Banjo Proverbs

This entry is part 23 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


A banjo is clamorous:
it is simple, & knows nothing.

Banjos make a mock at sin,
but among the righteous there is favor.

It is sport to a banjo to do mischief,
but a man of understanding has wisdom.

He that begets a banjo does so to his sorrow,
& the father of a banjo has no joy.

He that troubles his own house shall inherit the wind,
& the banjo shall be servant to the wise of heart.

As snow in summer & as rain in harvest,
so honor & a banjo don’t mix.

A dream comes from a crowd of troubles
& a banjo’s melody comes from a crowd of notes.

For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the music of the banjo.

A banjo’s strings enter into contention
& its head invites a beating.

A stone is heavy, a sandbag strains your arms,
but a banjo’s wrath is heavier than them both.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
than for a man to hear the music of banjos.

Go from the presence of a banjo
when you perceive not the notes of knowledge in it.

As a dog returns to his vomit,
so a banjo player returns to his banjo.

Forsake the banjo & live,
& go in the way of understanding.

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13 Replies to “Banjo Proverbs”

  1. Whenever I read the word “banjo,” I think of a fella with whom I served as a waiter in a seafood restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, in 1978-79. I don’t recall his name now, but occasionally he’d bring in his banjo and play several songs during the post-closing cleanup part of the evening. And then there was John Hartford, an excellent banjoist
    Hope all going well for you

  2. These work so well! I think, without checking, that you have “banjo” replacing “fool” or “foolish” in each instance. It’s so nice to hear these put to music finally!

    1. Thanks. Yes, you’ve divined my method. Anyone who doesn’t know the Bible as well as you could go to and search for “fool” in the King James Version, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. (I updated the language too, obviously, adn made other little adjustments.)

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