And yet I am poor! Why?
April 3, 2016 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Is being "a river to one's people", or to anything, an idiom that pre-exists its appearance in the famous monologue in Lawrence of Arabia?
posted by kenko to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In his book Arabian Sands Wilfred Thesiger tells of a meeting with a destitute elderly Bedu who is treated with respect and honored by younger men, despite appearing to be a begger in Thesiger's eyes. Thesiger is told that the old man was once wealthy and powerful but has become poor as a result of his generosity and he has given away everything. Screen writer Robert Bolt may have known that story and used the concept when writing Lawrence of Arabia.
posted by X4ster at 6:42 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Does Thesiger describe him, or report him as having been described, as a river to his people, or as a river to those to whom he gave his stuff away? Because otherwise that anecdote, while interesting, seems irrelevant.
posted by kenko at 9:40 AM on April 4, 2016

You're right, the reference is irrelevant. Thesiger makes no analogies in regard to the individual. I thought that perhaps the scriptwriter might have been prompted to the metaphoric description.
posted by X4ster at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2016

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