red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning

red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning
One of the most persistent of the weather sayings, used by sailors as well as shepherds (see quots. 1893 and 1996). With allusion to MATTHEW xvi. 2–3 (AV) 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 to day: for the sky is red and louring. c 1395 WYCLIF Bible Matthew xvi. 2 The eeuenynge maad, ye seien, It shal be cleer, for the heuene is lijk to reed; and the morwe, To day tempest, for heuen shyneth heuy, or sorwful.

c 1454 R. PECOCK Follower to Donet (EETS) 54 We trowen [believe] that this day schal be a reyny day for that his morownyng was reed, or that to morow schal be a fayre day for that his euentide is reed.

1592–3 SHAKESPEARE Venus & Adonis 1. 453 Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken’d Wreck to the seaman..Sorrow to shepherds.

1893 R. INWARDS Weather Lore 53 Sky red in the morning Is a sailor’s sure warning; Sky red at night Is the sailor’s delight.

1920 Punch 14 July 36 Red sky at night shepherd’s delight... Red sky in the morning shepherd’s warning.

1979 P. ALEXANDER Show me Hero xxv. ‘Going to be a fine day,’ he said at last. ‘Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning,’ Ashman said.

1995 R. ORMEROD And Hope to Die ii. 15 The next morning it was raining steadily, this in spite of the flush of sunset the evening before... Red sky at night, shepherds’ delight. Well all right, perhaps so, if they’d been praying for rain.

2002 M. DAHL Coral Coffin ii. 16 Pink clouds sailed high over the island. What was that saying I had heard from Uncle Stoppard? Red skies at night: a sailor’s delight Red skies at morning: a sailor takes warning.


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