The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Make hay while the sun shines.

Well-Known Expressions

Make hay while the sun shines

Meaning:

Take full advantage of an opportunity before it passes

Background:

This expression, which alludes to the drying of grass for animal feed, is first recorded in English in Alexander Barclay's Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools, originally written by the distinguished humanist Sebastian Brant in 1494 and published in German as Narrenschiff, satirizes examples of contemporary folly.  It was one of the most successful published works of its age and is often cited as one of the first "international bestsellers". Alexander Barclay adapted it into English as The Ship of Folys of the Worlde in 1509.  The work's comic woodcuts, commonly attributed to Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg, are a key part of its popularity.  Sample illustrations can be seen at the University of Glasgow's website. The full text and illustrations are available at Project Gutenberg.

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