It's from Arabic poetry:

He who is covered by the days is naked, so do not feel sorry about the turn of the times/the infidelity of the days, for long have dogs danced around the corpses of lions, but lions remain lions and dogs stay dogs.

It's used to comfort one/those who was/were at the top and by the nature of life have gone down, been abased and humiliated.

For example: people who have been regarded as elite for many years and rule a country, but they are toppled by killers and those who were most contemptible in society; things have turned and those who were at the top are now at the bottom and vice versa.

Anything similar?

  • I don't know if I got your meaning right but I think this may work: "When the cat is away, the mice will play" if not try this "turn of the tide" -- And The "turning of the tide" is literally the change of the tide from incoming to outgoing, or vice-versa.
    – haha
    Dec 15, 2015 at 3:23
  • Life is full of ups and downs ?
    – ermanen
    Dec 15, 2015 at 4:32

4 Answers 4


Consider you can't stay young forever.

Example: While it's true you can't stay young forever, you can remain youthful in spirit

You may also quote "Le Cid" written by Pierre Corneille: "Oh rage, oh despair, oh vile old age!" (translated from French "O rage, ô désespoir, ô vieillesse ennemie")

 EDIT to address the "vice versa" issue:

Life is not a long quiet river.

  • Since the question says "and vice versa", I don't think the idiom is limited to comforting those grown old and past their primes, or more metaphorically, those who were once fortunate and aren't any longer. It's more about the general notion of comforting people with the reassurance that fortunes change, things go up and down, the tide comes in and out--that kind of thing.
    – Yee-Lum
    Dec 21, 2015 at 23:08
  • 1
    @Yee-Lum: You are right: my initial response didn't cover the "vice versa" aspect of the question. I edited the answer.
    – Graffito
    Dec 21, 2015 at 23:19

You could consider using Life has its peaks and valleys. Peak means:

The point of highest activity, quality, or achievement: he was at his peak as a cricketer

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

And valley means:

a low point or interval in any process, representation, or situation.


The word peak signifies at the top and valley at the bottom.

Basically, "Life has its peaks and valleys" means "Life has its ups and downs or ebbs and flows".


This poem caries some of the same ideas:
by WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY (Poetry Foundation)
Verse 2

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

This has some of the politics too:
A Jacobite's Epitaph //Thomas B Macaulay (Bartleby)

TO my true king I offer'd free from stain
Courage and faith; vain faith, and courage vain.
For him I threw lands, honours, wealth, away,
And one dear hope, that was more prized than they
For him I languish'd in a foreign clime,
Gray-hair'd with sorrow in my manhood's prime;


...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11 King James Version (KJV)


"this too shall pass" from Persian saying.

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