Used to describe a strategy of procrastination in the hope of some solution to a serious problem manifesting itself, sometimes referred to as Micawberism. It refers to one of a collection of Sufi stories involving a mischievous figure of legend, Nasrudin. There are numerous versions of each of the Nasrudin stories, including one where Nasrudin, dragged on some pretext before the ruler (variously the Sultan, Tamerlane, Caliph of Baghdad, etc.) and sentenced to death, obtains a year-long reprieve, based on his claim that during that time he can teach the ruler’s horse to sing.
Confronted by a prisoner (or in some versions a follower or jailer) with the point that he seems to have promised the impossible, and that his execution will be all the more grisly and painful in a year for failing to deliver, Nasrudin responds:
“I now have a year … and much can happen in that time. The Sultan may change his mind and release me. He may die, and it is traditional for a successor to pardon all prisoners upon taking office. He may be overthrown, and all prisoners be released. Or the horse might die … and if all else fails, who knows, maybe the horse will learn to sing…”