There are four marvelous mysteries
that are too amazing to unravel—
who could fully explain them?
The way an eagle flies in the sky,
the way a snake glides on a boulder,
the path of a ship as it passes through the sea,
and the way a bridegroom falls in love with his bride.
Here is the deceptive way of the adulterous woman:
she takes what she wants and then says,
“I’ve done nothing wrong.”
There are four intolerable events
that are simply unbearable to observe:
when an unfaithful servant becomes a ruler,
when a scoundrel comes into great wealth,
when an unfaithful woman marries a good man,
and when a mistress replaces a faithful wife.
The earth has four creatures that are very small but very wise:
The feeble ant has little strength,
yet look how it diligently gathers its food in the summer
to last throughout the winter.
The delicate rock-badger isn’t all that strong,
yet look how it makes a secure home, nestled in the rocks.
The locusts have no king to lead them,
yet they cooperate as they move forward by bands.
And the small lizard is easy to catch
as it clings to the walls with its hands,
yet it can be found inside a king’s palace.
There are four stately monarchs
who are impressive to watch as they go forth:
the lion, the king of the jungle, who is afraid of no one,
the rooster strutting boldly among the hens,
the male goat out in front leading the herd,
and a king leading his regal procession.
If you’ve acted foolishly by drawing attention to yourself,
or if you’ve thought about saying something stupid,
you’d better shut your mouth.
For such stupidity may give you a bloody nose!
Stirring up an argument only leads to an angry confrontation.