The original wording of this famous phrase was ‘all that glisters is not gold’ but over time we all adopted the word ‘glitters’ instead.
Shakespeare was the best known writer who made this phrase memorable in one of his plays entitled, Merchant of Venice. This play was said to be have been written in 1596 and included the following words.
O hell! what have we here?
A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll! I'll read the writing.
All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
This poem form the play is about Portia who is a beautiful, virtuous, wealthy woman who is being wooed by numerous suitors. She is not free to decide on her own whom she will marry because her late father stipulated in his will that she must marry the man who correctly picks the one casket (out of three) that contains her picture. One casket is gold, another is silver, and the third is made of lead. The Prince of Morocco is one in a long line of suitors who tries to win Portia's hand, and he decides that it would demean Portia to have her picture in anything other than a gold casket, and so he chooses that one. As he unlocks it, he is dismayed to find a picture, not of Portia but of Death, with a message written in its hollow eye: "All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold. / Gilded tombs do worms enfold." With a grieving heart the Prince takes hasty leave of Portia, who is happy to see him go, saying, "A gentle riddance."
Several other famous writers earlier than Shakespeare have been known for quoting this sentiment such as the French theologian, Alain de Lille in the thirteenth century, who wrote "Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold". Others in time used similar wording but today we all speak and accept the word ‘glitters’ for ‘glisters’.
For those of you who are fans of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series of books by J R R Tolkein, you may remember this poem:
- All that is gold does not glitter,
- Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither,
- Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king.
The phrase, ‘all that glisters/glitters is not gold’, simply means that just because something may look valuable, desirable or attractive, it does not mean that it will be worth having once you discover its true nature.
Personally, I love gold and diamonds and rubies and sapphires and and and! Seriously, gold is an amazing metal whether it is shown as the real thing or pretend. When I was married yellow gold was in favour whilst nowadays fashions and likes have changed and it is white gold that is favoured instead.
Take a look at the following items presented by my BBEST team mates. They might not be real gold but don’t be deceived! They are beautiful, as rich as gold, if not more so!
Large gold mirror from Italy… but is it really gold?
Chris1 or Designs by Christine
Gold Dichroic Heart Pendant .. a truly striking piece.
Paper Patches from Sassa Lynne
Metallic Spray for Paper Arts, Gold … something to help create the illusion?
Nonnie62 or Stained Glass by Nonnie
Gold Stained Glass Votive Candleholder .. the gold colouring gives us such a warm feeling.
Sparkly Gold Fan Design Scarf .. the gold colouring creates a pretty and warm look.
Golden Meadow Crochet Thread Flower Brooch …. reminds me of fields of sunflowers
Have I whetted your appetite? Why not search for more ‘gold’ or simply find some amazing talent in the BBEST team. You never know, you might even find that pot of gold!