1Dead flies in perfume make it stink,
And a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom.
2Wise thinking leads to right living;
Stupid thinking leads to wrong living.
3Fools on the road have no sense of direction.
The way they walk tells the story: “There goes the fool again!”
4If a ruler loses his temper against you, don’t panic;
A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage.
5-7Here’s a piece of bad business I’ve seen on this earth,
An error that can be blamed on whoever is in charge:
Immaturity is given a place of prominence,
While maturity is made to take a backseat.
I’ve seen unproven upstarts riding in style,
While experienced veterans are put out to pasture.
8Caution: The trap you set might catch you.
Warning: Your accomplice in crime might double-cross you.
9Safety first: Quarrying stones is dangerous.
Be alert: Felling trees is hazardous.
10Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work;
Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle.
11If the snake bites before it’s been charmed,
What’s the point in then sending for the charmer?
12-13The words of a wise person are gracious.
The talk of a fool self-destructs—
He starts out talking nonsense
And ends up spouting insanity and evil.
14Fools talk way too much,
Chattering stuff they know nothing about.
15A decent day’s work so fatigues fools
That they can’t find their way back to town.
16-17Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup,
And whose princes party all night.
Lucky the land whose king is mature,
Where the princes behave themselves
And don’t drink themselves silly.
18A shiftless man lives in a tumbledown shack;
A lazy woman ends up with a leaky roof.
19Laughter and bread go together,
And wine gives sparkle to life—
But it’s money that makes the world go around.
20Don’t bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath,
And don’t abuse your betters, even in the privacy of your home.
Loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around.
Little birds drop the crumbs of your gossip far and wide.