Bible (Early Wycliffe)/Eccleſiaſtes
Þe Prologe in Þe boc of EccleſiaſtesEdit
Heere gynneþ þe prologe in þe boc of Eccleſiaſtes, þat is to ſey, boc of talker to þe puple, or togidere clepere.
This almoſt þe fifte ȝeer, whan ȝit I was at Rome, þat Ecleſiaſten I ſhulde reden to Seint Bleſill, þat hir I ſhulde ſtire to þe diſpiſing of þes world, and þat ſhe ſhulde ſett al þat in þe world ſhe beholdiþ, to ben for noȝt, I haue mynde, me preȝid of hir, þat in to maner of a ſhort expoſicioun alle þe hard þingus I ſhulde clerli expoune, þat, wiþoute me, ſhe myȝte vnderſtonde þat ſhe radde; and ſo for in þe firſte greiþing of oure werc, ſhe wiþdrawen wiþ ſodeyn deþ, and, O! Paule and Euſtoche, wee deſerueden not to ha ſuch a felawe of oure lif, and wiþ ſo myche wounde ſmyten, þanne I becam doumb. Now in Beþlem ſet, þat is, in a ſtreitere cite, I ȝeelde þat I owe and to þe mynde of hir and to ȝou; þis ſhortli doende to witen, þat þe autorite of no man I folewede, but tranſlatende fro Ebru moſt I confoormede me to þe cuſtum of þe Seuenti Remenoures, in þeſe þingus onli þat not myche fro Ebrues þey diſcordeden. Oþerwhile alſo I recordid of Aquile, alſo and of Simake, and of Theodocian, þat I ſhulde not feren þe ſtudi of þe redere wiþ to myche neweneſſe, ne, on þe oþer ſide, þe welle of treuþe left, aȝen my concience I ſhulde togidere folewen þe ſtremes of opinyouns.
Heer gynneþ þe booc.
The wrdis of Eccleſiaſtes, ſone of Dauid, king of Jeruſalem. Vanite of vanites, ſeide Ecleſiaſtes; vanite of vanytes, and alle þingus vanyte. What haþ a man more ouer of al his trauaile, þat he trauaileþ vnder þe ſunne? Jeneracioun goþ, and ieneracioun comeþ; þe erþe forſoþe in to wiþ oute ende ſtant. Þe ſunne riſiþ vp, and goþ doun, and to his place turneþ aȝeen; and þere aȝeen riſende goþ aboute bi þe ſouþ, and turneþ aȝeen to þe norþ. Enuyrounende alle þingus þe ſpirit in cumpas paſſeþ, and in to his cercles turneþ aȝeen. Alle flodis entren in to þe ſe, and þe ſe redoundiþ not; to þe place whennes þe flodis wenten out, þei turnen aȝeen, þat eft þei flowen out. Alle þingus harde, and a man mai not þem tellen out pleynli wiþ wrd; þe eȝe is not fild wiþ ſiȝte, ne fulfild is þe ere wiþ heering. What is þat was, it þat is to come? What is þat is mad, it þat is to be maad? No þing vnder þe ſunne newe, ne any man mai ſeyn, Lo! þis is freſh newe; now forſoþe it wente beforn in worldis, þe whiche weren beforn vs. Þer is not mynde of þe raþere þingus, but and of þo þingis forſoþe, þat ben aftir to come, ſhal not ben recording anent hem þat be to come in þe laſte time. I Ecleſiaſtes was king of Irael in Jeruſalem; and I purpoſide in myn inwit to ſeche and enſerchen wiſli of alle þingus, þat ben mad vnder ſunne. Þis werſte ocupacioun ȝaff God to þe ſonus of men, þat þei ſhulden ben ocupied in it. I ſaȝ alle þingus þat ben mad vnder þe ſunne, and, lo! alle þingus vanite and tormenting of ſpirit. Peruertid men of hard ben amendid; and wiþoute ende is þe noumbre of foolis. I ſpac in myn herte, ſeiende, Lo! gret I am mad, and I wente beforn alle in wiſdam, þat weren beforn me in Jeruſalem; and my mynde beheeld manye þingus wiſli, and I lernede. And I ȝaf myn herte, þat I knewe prudence and doctrine, and errouris and folie. And I knewȝ þat in þeſe þingis alſo was trauaile and tormenting of ſpirit; for þi þat in myche wiſdam is myche indignacioun, and þat addiþ kunnyng, addeþ and trauaile.
I ſeide in myn herte, I ſhal go, and flowe delices, and I ſhal take þe frutis in goodis; and I ſaȝ alſo þat þat was vanyte. And laȝhing I heeld errour, and to ioȝe I ſeide, Wherto in veyn þou art bigilid? I þoȝte in myn herte to wiþdrawe fro wyn my fleſh, and myn inwit to bern ouer to wiſdam, and þat I ſhulde eſchewe folie, to þe tyme þat I ſhulde ſeen, what were profitable to þe ſonus of men; þe whiche þing don, nede is to þer lif in þe noumbre of daȝes vnder þe ſunne. I magnefiede my werkis, I bilde to me houſes, and plauntide vynes; I made gardynes and appil gardynes, and I plauntide þem wiþ þe trees of alle kinde; and I made out to me cyſternes of watris, þat I ſhulde watren þe wode of þe buriounynge tres. I weldide ſeruauns and hand wymmen, and myche meyne I hadde; droues alſo, and grete flockis of ſheep, ouer alle men þat weren befor me in Jeruſalem. I hepede to me ſiluer and gold, and ſubſtaunces of kingus and of prouynces; I made to me ſingeris and ſingereſſes, and þe delices of ſonus of men, cuppis and pottis in ſeruiſe, to wynes to ben held; and I paſſede in richeſſes alle, þat beforn me weren in Jeruſalem. Wiſdam alſo abod ſtille wiþ me, and alle þingus þat deſireden myn eȝen, I denyede not to þem; ne I forfendide myn herte, but þat of alle voluptuouſte he ſhulde take frut, and al delicen hym ſelf in þeſe þingus þat I hadde greiþid; and þis I alouwide my part, for I ſhulde vſen my trauaile. And whan me I hadde turned to alle þe werkis þat myn hondis hadden don, and to þe trauailes in whiche in veyn I hadde ſwat, I ſaȝ in alle þingus vanyte and tormenting of inwit, and no þing to dwelle ſtille vnder þe ſunne. I paſſede, and to ben beholden wiſdam, and erroures, and folie; what is forſoþe a man, þat he mowe folewen þe king, his makere? And I ſaȝ, þat ſo myche wiſdam wente beforn folie, hou myche liȝt is in difference fro dercneſſes. Of þe wiſe man þe eȝen in his hed, þe fool goþ in dercneſſes; and I lernede, þat o diyng was of euere eiþer. And I ſeide in myn herte, If oon and of þe fool and my diyng ſhal be, what to me profiteþ, þat more biſyneſſe I ȝaf to wiſdam? And ſpoken wiþ my mynde, I toc heed, þat þat alſo was vanyte. Forſoþe þer ſhal not be þe mynde of þe wiſe man, lic maner as of þe fool in to wiþoute ende, and þe times to come wiþ forȝeting alle þingus ſhul couere togidere; þe taȝt man dieþ alſo and þe vntaȝt. And þerfore it noȝede me of my lif, ſeende alle euelis to ben vnder þe ſunne, and alle þingus vanytes and tormenting of ſpirit. Eft I wlatede alle my biſyneſſe, þat vnder þe ſunne moſt ſtudiouſli I trauailede, to han an eir after me, whom I knowe not, wheþer wis or fool he be to ben; and ſhal lordſhipen in my trauailes, in þe whiche I haue myche ſwat, and ben biſy; and alle þing is ſo veyn. Wherfore I ceſede, and myn herte forſoc more to trauailen vnder þe ſunne. For whan an oþer ſhal trauailen in wiſdam, and doctrine, and beſyneſſe, and to an idil man þe purchaſid þingus lefeþ; and þat þanne vanyte, and gret euel. What forſoþe ſhal profite to a man of al his trauaile, and of þe tormenting of ſpirit, þat vnder þe ſunne he is tormentid? Alle þe daȝes of hym of ſorewes and myſeyſe ben ful, and bi þe nyȝt in mynde he reſteþ not; and wheþer is not þat vanyte? Wheþer is it not betere to eten and drinke, and to ſhewe to his lif þe goodis of his trauailes? and þat is of þe hond of God. Who ſhal ſo deuouren, and delicis flowen, as I? To a good man in his ſiȝte God ȝaf wiſdam, and kunnyng, and vnderſtonding; to þe ſynnere forſoþe he ȝaf tormenting, and waſt biſyneſſe, þat he adde, and gedere togidere, and take to hym þat ſhal pleſen to God; but and þis vanite, and waſt beſyneſſe of mynde.
Alle þingus han time, and in þer ſpaces paſſen alle þingus vnder þe ſunne. Time of hauyng birþe, and time of diyng; time of plaunting, and time of pulling vp þat is plauntid. Time of ſleying, and time of heling; time of deſtroȝing, and time of bilding. Time of weping, and time of laȝhing; time of weiling, and time of leping. Time of ſprenging abrod ſtones, and time of gadering togidere; time of clipping, and time to ben maad aferr fro clippingus. Time of purchaſing, and time of leeſing; time of keping, and time of caſting awei. Time of kutting, and time of ſouwing togidere; time of holding pes, and time of ſpeking. Time of loouing, and time of hate; time of bataile, and time of pes. What haþ a man more of his trauaile? I ſaȝ þe affliccioun, þat God ȝaf to þe ſonus of men, þat þei be tormentid in it. Alle þingus he made goode in þer time, and þe world he toc to þe diſputiſoun of þem, þat a man finde not þe werc þat God wroȝte fro þe bigynnyng to þe ende. And I kneȝ þat þer was not betere, but to gladen, and to do good in þer lif. Eche man forſoþe þat etiþ and drinkeþ, and ſeeþ good of his trauaile; þat þe ȝifte of God is. I lernede þat alle werkis, þat God made, dwellen ſtille in to wiþ oute ende; wee moun not to þem any þing adden, or taken awei, þat God made, þat he be drad. Þat is maad, it dwelliþ ſtille; þat ben to come, now weren; and God reſtoreþ þat, þat ȝide awei. I ſaȝ vnder ſunne in þe place of dom vnpitouſneſſe; and in þe place of riȝtwiſneſſe wickidneſſe. And I ſeide in myn herte, Þe riȝtwiſe and þe vnpitouſe þe Lord ſhal demen; and tyme of alle þing þanne ſhal be. I ſeide in myn herte of þe ſonus of men, þat God ſhulde prouen hem, and ſhewen to ben lic to beſtis. Þerfore oon is þe diyng of men and of beſtis, and euene þe condicioun of euere eiþer; as a man dieþ, ſo and þo dien; lic maner breþen alle þingus, and no þing haþ a man more þan a beſte. Alle þingus vnderlin to vanyte, and alle þingus gon to o place; of erþe þei ben maad, and in to erþe togidere þei turnen aȝeen. Who kneȝ, if þe ſpirit of þe ſonus of Adam ſteȝe vp aboue, and if þe ſpirit of beſtis go doun byneþe? And I parceyuede no þing to ben betere, þan a man to gladen in his werc, and þat to ben þe part of hym; who forſoþe hym ſhal leden to, þat aftir hym he knowe þingis to come?
I turnede me to oþere þingus, and I ſaȝ chalenges, þat vnder þe ſunne ben don, and þe teres of innocens, and no man coumfortende; ne to moun wiþſtonde þe violence of þem, benomen þe helpe of alle. And I preiſede more þe deade þan þe liuende; and I demede hym welſumere þan eiþer, þat ȝit is not born, ne ſaȝ þe euelis þat ben don vnder þe ſunne. Eft I beheeld alle þe trauailis of men, and þe beſyneſſes I tooc heed to ben opened to þe enuye of neȝhebore; and in þat þanne vanyte, and waſt beſyneſſe is. Þe fool foldeþ togidere his hondis, and eteþ his fleſh, ſeiende, Betere is a litil handful wiþ reſte, þan ful eiþer hond wiþ trauaile and tormenting of inwit. Beholdende I founde and an oþer vanyte vndir þe ſunne; oon is, and þe ſecunde haþ not; nouþer ſone, ne broþer; and ner þe latere to trauailen he ceſeþ not, and ner þe latere his eȝen ben not fild wiþ richeſſes; ne he þenkeþ aȝeen, ſeiende, To whom trauaile I, and begile my ſoule of goodis? In þat alſo ys vanyte, and werſt tormenting. Betere is þat two ben togidere þan oon; forſoþe þei han auauntage of þer felaſhipe. If oon ſhul fallen, of þe toþer he ſhal ben holden vp; wo to þe alone, for whan he ſhal fallen, he haþ not a man rerende hym vp. If two ſhul ſlepe, þei ſhul ben nurſhid togidere; oon, what maner ſhal he be maad hot? If any man haue þe ouere hond aȝen oon, two wiþſtonden to hym; a þre fold corde hard is to-broken. Betere is a child pore and wis þan a king old and fool, þat cannot ſeen beforn in to aftir. Þat and fro priſoun and cheynes oþerwhile ſum man goþ out to a reume; and an oþer born into a reume wiþ myſeiſe is waſtid. I ſaȝ alle liuende men þat gon vnder þe ſunne, wiþ þe ȝunge ful waxynge þe ſecunde, þat ſhal riſe for hym. Wiþ oute ende is þe noumbre of puple, of alle þat weren beforn hym, and þat aftir ben to comen, ſhul not gladen in hym; but and þis vanyte and tormenting of ſpirit.
Kep þou þi foot, goende in to þe hous of God, and neȝhe þat þou heere; forſoþe myche betere is obeiſaunce þan victorie ſacrifiſes of foolis, þat wite not what þei don of euel. And ſpeke þou not folili any þing, ne þin herte be ſwift to bringe forþ a wrd beforn God; God forſoþe in heuene, and þou vp on erþe, and þerfore fewe be þi wrdis. Sweuenus folewen manye beſyneſſes, and in manye wrdis ſhal ben founde folie. If any þing þou haue vouwid to God, ne tarie þou to ȝelde; forſoþe diſpleſiþ to hym vnfeiþful and fool beheſte; but what euere þou auouwiſt, ȝeeld; and myche betere it is to not auouwen, þan aftir þe vow þe biheſtis to not ȝelde. Ne ȝiue þou þi mouþ, þat þou make þi fleſh to ſynnen; ne ſey þou biforn þe aungil, Þere is not purueying; leſt parauenture þe Lord, wroþ vp on þi wrdis, ſcatere alle þe werkis of þin hondis. Wher many ſweuenes ben, many vanytes, and wrdis vnnoumbreable; þou forſoþe dred God. If þou ſhalt ſeen wronge chalengis of nedi men, and violent domes, and riȝtwiſneſſe to be turned vpſo doun in prouynce, wndre þou not vp on þis nede; for þan þe heeȝ an oþer is heȝere, and vp on þeſe oþere alſo ben heȝere ſtondende; and ferþermore þe king of al erþe comaundiþ to þe ſeruende. Þe auerouſe ſhall not ben fulfild wiþ monee; and þat looueþ richeſſes, frut ſhal not take of þem; and þis þanne vanyte. Wher ben many richeſſes, and manye þat eten hem; and what profiteþ to þe weldere, but þat he ſeeþ þe richeſſes wiþ his eȝen? Swete is ſlep to þe werchere, wheþer litil or myche he ete; fulneſſe forſoþe of þe riche man ſuffriþ hym not to ſlepen. Þer is and an oþer infirmyte werſt, þat I ſaȝ vndir þe ſunne; richeſſes kept in to euel of his lord. Forſoþe þei perſhen in þe werſte tormenting; he gat a ſone, þat in heȝeſt nedyneſſe ſhal be. As he wente out nakid of þe wombe of his moder, ſo he ſhal turne aȝeen; and no þing he ſhal take wiþ hym of his trauaile. Wreccheful forſoþe infirmyte; what maner he cam, ſo he ſhal turne aȝeen. What þanne profiteþ to hym, þat he trauailede in to wind? Alle þe daȝes of his lif he eet in dercneſſes, and in many beſyneſſes, and in myſeiſe, and ſorewe. And ſo þis to me is ſeen good, þat a man ete, and drinke, and vſe gladneſſe of his trauaile, þat he trauailede vnder þe ſunne, in noumbre of þe daȝes of his lif, þe whiche God ȝaf to hym; and þis is his part. And to eche man, to whom God ȝaf richeſſes, and ſubſtaunce, and power he ȝaf to hym, þat he ete of hem, and take þe frut of his part, and glade of his trauaile; þis is þe ȝifte of God. Forſoþe not a ſeeþ he ſhal recorde of þe daȝes of his lif, þer þurȝ þat God ocupie in delicys his herte.
Ther is and an oþer euel, þat I ſaȝ vnder þe ſunne; and forſoþe ofte anentis men. A man to whom God ȝaf richeſſes, and ſubſtaunce, and wrſhepe; and no þing lackeþ to his ſoule of alle þingis þat he deſireþ; and God ȝyueþ not power to hym, þat he ete of it, but a ſtraunge man ſhal deuouren it. Þis is vanyte, and gret wrecchidneſſe. If any man geete an hundred free childer, and liue many ȝeris, and many daȝes of his age hadde, and þe ſoule of hym vſe nott þe goodis of his ſubſtaunce, and lacke ſepulture; of þat I pronounce, þat betere þan he be maad a dead born. In veyn forſoþe he cam, and wente to dercneſſes; and bi forȝeting ſhal be don awei þe name of hym. He ſaȝ not þe ſunne, ne kneȝ þe diſtaunce of good and euel; alſo if two þouſend ȝeer he ſhulde liue, and hadde not ful vſid þe goodis; wheþer not to o place gon alle? Al þe trauaile of man in þe mouþ of hym, but þe ſoule of hym ſhal not be fulfild wiþ goodis. What more haþ a wis man þan a fool? and what a pore, but þat he go þider, wher is lif? Betere is to ſeen þat þou coueitiſt, þan to deſire þat þou woſt not; but and þis is vanyte, and preſumpcioun of ſpirit. Who is to come, now is clepid þe name of hym, and is knowen, þat he be a man, and mai not aȝen a ſtrengere þan hymſelf ſtriuen wiþ in dom. Wrdis ben manye, and myche in diſputing vanyte hauende. What nede is to a man more þingus þan hymſelf to ſechen; whan he vnknowiþ, what it bringe to hym in his lif, bi noumbre of daȝes of his pilgrimage, and bi time þat as ſhadewe paſſede? or who to hym ſhal moun ſhewen, what after hym be to come vnder þe ſunne?
Betere is a good name þan precious oynementes; and þe dai of deþ þan þe dai of birþe. Betere is to go to þe hous of weiling, þan to þe hous of a feſte; in it forſoþe þe ende of alle men is warned, and liuende he þenkeþ, what be to come. Betere is wraþe þan laȝhing; for bi ſorewe of þe chere þe wil of þe treſpaſere is amendid. Þe herte of wiſe men where is ſorewe; and þe herte of foolis where is gladneſſe. Betere is to be chaſtiſid of a wis man, þan bi flatering of foolis to be deſceyued; for as þe ſoun of brennende þornes vnder a pot, ſo þe laȝhing of a fool. But and þis vanyte. Chaleng diſturbeþ þe wiſe man, and ſhal leeſen þe ſtrengþe of his herte. Betere is forſoþe þe ende of oriſoun þan þe begynnyng. Betere is a pacient man þan þe enhauncende hymſelf. Be þou not ſwift to wraþen; for wraþe in þe boſum of a fool reſtiþ. Ne ſeye þou, What weneſt þou of cauſe is, þat þe raþere tymes betere weren þan now ben? folie forſoþe is ſuch a maner aſking. Profitablere forſoþe is wiſdam wiþ richeſſes, and more profitiþ to men ſeende þe ſunne. Forſoþe as wiſdam defendiþ, ſo monee; þis forſoþe more haþ lernyng and wiſdam, þat lif þei ȝeelden to þer weldere. Behold þe werkes of God, þat no man mai amende, whom he deſpiſide. In þe goode dai vſe goodes, and þe euele dai be war biforn; as forſoþe þis, ſo and it God made, þat a man finde not aȝen hym riȝtwis pleyntes. Þeſe þingus alſo I ſawȝ in þe daȝes of my birþe; þe riȝtwis perſhede in his riȝtwiſneſſe, and þe vnpitous myche time liueþ, and in his malice. Wile þou not ben myche riȝtwis, ne more ſauouren þan is nede; leſt þou become ſtoneid. Ne myche vnpytouſli do þou, and wile þou not ben a fool; leſt þou die in þe time not þin. Good is, þee to ſuſtenen þe riȝtwis; but and fro hym ne wiþdrawe þou þin hond; for who dredeþ God, no þing necgligentli leueþ. Wiſdam coumfortede þe wiſe, ouer ten princes of þe cite. Þer is not forſoþe a riȝtwis man in þe erþe, þat do good, and not ſynne. But and to alle wrdis, þat ben ſeid, ne leeue þou þin herte; leſt parauenture þou heere a ſeruaunt curſende to þee; þi conſcience forſoþe wot, for and þou ofte ſiþes curſediſt to oþere. Alle þingis I ſaȝede in wiſdam; I ſeide, Wis I ſhal be maad, and it ferþere wente awei fro me, myche more þan it was; and heeȝ depneſſe, who ſhal finde it? I cumpaſſede alle þingus in myn inwit, þat I ſhulde witen, and beholde, and ſechen wiſdam and reſoun, and þat I ſhulde knowe þe vnpitouſnes of þe fool, and þe errour of vnprudent men. And I fond a womman bitterere þan deþ, þe whiche is þe grene of hunteres, and a net þe herte of hir, bondis ben þe hondis of hir; who pleſiþ to God, ſhal aſcapen hir, who forſoþe is a ſynnere, ſhal be caȝt of hir. Lo! þis I fond, ſeide Ecleſiaſtes, oon and oþer, þat I ſhulde finde reſoun, þat ȝit ſechiþ my ſoule; and I fond not. A man of a þouſend oon I fond, a womman of alle I fond not. Onli þis I fond, þat God made man riȝt; and he hymſelf mengde wiþ queſtiouns wiþ oute ende. Who ſuch oon as þe wiſe is? and who kneȝ þe ſolucioun of þe wrd?
The wiſdam of a man liȝtneþ in þe chere of hym; and þe moſt myȝti þe face of hym ſhal chaungen. I þe mouþ of þe king kepe, and heſtes and þe oþis of God. Ne heȝe þou to gon awei fro þe face of hym, ne abide þou ſtille in euel werc. For al þat he wille, he ſhal do; and þe ſermoun of hym is ful of power, ne any man mai ſey to hym, Whi doſt þou þus? Who kepeþ þe heſt, ſhal not ben expert any þing of euel; time and anſwering þe herte of þe wiſe man vnderſtant. To alle nede time is and couenableneſſe; and myche tormentyng of a man, þat vnknowiþ þe paſſide þingus, and þe to comen bi no meſſager he may wite. It is not in a mannys power to defende þe ſpirit, ne he haþ power in þe dai of deþ, ne it is ſuffrid to reſten, bataile aȝencomende; ne vnpitouſneſſe ſhal ſaue þe vnpitouſe. Alle þeſe þingus I beheeld, and ȝaf myn herte in alle werkis, þat ben mad vnder ſunne. Oþerwhile a man lordſhipeþ to a man, in to his euel. I ſaȝ vnpitous men biried, þat alſoo, whan ȝit þei liueden, in holi place weren; and þei weren preiſed in þe cite, as of riȝtwis werkis; but and þis is vanyte. Forſoþe for þer is not broȝt forþ anoon aȝen euele men ſentence, wiþoute any drede þe ſones of men werchen eueles. And ner þe latere þe ſynnere, of þat, þat an hundrid ſiþes he doþ euel, and bi pacience is ſuſtened, I kneȝ þat þer was good to men dredende God, þat reuerentli dreden þe face of hym. Be þer not good to þe vnpitouſe, ne be þer aferr longid þe daȝes of hym; but as ſhadewe paſſe þey, þat dreden not þe face of þe Lord. Þer is and an oþer vanyte, þat is don vp on erþe. Þer ben riȝtwis men, to þe whiche eueles comen forþ, as werkes þei diden of vnpitous men; and þer ben vnpitous men, þat ben ſo ſikir, as þoȝ þei hadden þe deedis of riȝtwis men; but and þis moſt veyn I deme. I preiſede þerfore gladneſſe, þat þer was not to man good vnder ſunne, but þat he ete, and drinke, and ioȝe; and þat onli wiþ hym he take of his trauaile, in þe daȝes of his lif, þat God ȝaf to hym vnder þe ſunne. And I leide to myn herte, þat I wite wiſdam, and vnderſtande diſtincioun, þat goþ on erþe. Þer is a man, þat daȝes and niȝtus ſlep takeþ not to his eȝen. And I vnderſtod, þat of alle þe werkis of God, no reſoun of þem mai a man finde, þat ben mad vnder þe ſunne; and hou myche more he trauailede to ſechen, ſo myche laſſe he ſhal finde; alſo if þe wiſe man ſhal ſei hymſelf to han knowen, he ſhal not moun finde.
Alle þeſe þingus I tretede in myn herte, þat I vndirſtonde curyouſly. Þer ben riȝtwiſe and wiſe men, and þe werkis of hem in þe hond of God; and ner þe latere a man wot not, wheþer looue or hate he be wrþi. But alle þingus in to time to come ben kept vncerteyn; for þi þat alle þingus euenli comen to þe riȝtwis and to þe vnpitous, to þe goode and to þe euele, to þe clene and to þe vnclene, to þe offrende oſtis and victorie ſacrifiſes, and to þe deſpiſende ſacrifiſes; as a good man, ſo and a ſynnere; as a forſworn, ſo and he þat ſoþ ſwerþ. Þis is þe werſte among alle þingis, þat vnder þe ſunne ben don, for þe ſame þingus to alle men fallen; wherfore and þe hertes of þe ſonus of men ben fulfild wiþ malice and wiþ diſpiſing in þer lif; and aftir þeſe to helle þei ſhul ben broȝt doun. No man is, þat euermor liue, and þat of þis þing haue troſt; betere is a quyc dogge þanne a leoun dead. Lyuende men forſoþe witen þemſelf to be to dien; deade forſoþe no þing knewen more, ne han ouer meede; for to forȝeting taken is þe mynde of hem. Looue alſo, and hate, and enuyes togidere perſheden; and þei han not part in þis world, and in þe werk þat vnder þe ſunne is don. Go þanne, and ett in gladneſſe þi bred, and drinc wiþ ioȝe þi win; for to God pleſen þi werkis. Alle times be þi cloþis white, and oile fro þin hed faile not. Parfitli vſe lif wiþ þe wif þat þou looueſt, alle þe daȝes of þi lif of þin vnſtableneſſe, þat ben ȝyue to þee vnder ſunne, al þe time of þi vanyte; þis is forſoþe part in lif, and in þi trauaile, þat þou trauailiſt vnder ſunne. What euere þing mai þin hond don, beſili werc; for nouþer werc, ne reſoun, ne wiſdam, ne kunnyng is anent helle, whider þou goſt. I turnede me to an oþer þing, þat I ſaȝ vnder ſunne neiþer cours to ben of ſwifte men, ne bataile of ſtronge men, ne bred of wiſe men, ne richeſſes of taȝt men, ne grace off craftis men; but time and chauns in alle þingus. A man wot not his ende; but as fiſſhis ben take wiþ þe hoc, and as briddes ben caȝt wiþ þe grene, ſo ben taken men in euel time, whan to þem ſodeynli it comeþ ouer. Þis alſo vnder ſunne I ſaȝ wiſdam, and prouede þe moſte. A litil cite, and fewe men in it; þer cam aȝen it a gret king, and beſegede it, and made out ſtrengþis bi enuyroun; and ful mad is þe ſege. And þer is founden in it a pore man and a wis; he delyuerede þe cite bi his wiſdam, and no man þerafter recordede of þat pore man. And I ſeide, betere to ben wiſdam þan ſtrengþe; what maner þanne þe wiſdam of þe pore man is deſpiſid, and þe wrdis of hym ben not herd? Þe wrdis of wiſe men ben herd in ſilence, more þan þe cri of a prince among foolis. Betere is wiſdam þan armes for bataile; and who in oon ſhal ſynnen, many goodis ſhal leeſe.
Fleȝis diende leeſen þe ſwotneſſe of þe oynement. More precious is wiſdam and litil glorie at tyme, þan folie. Þe herte of þe wiſe man in þe riȝþalf of hym; and þe herte of þe fool in þe lifþalf of hym. But and in þe weie a fool goende, whan he be an vnwis man, alle foolis eymeþ. If þe ſpirit of þe hauende power ſteȝe vp vp on þee, þi place ne lefe þou; for kuring makeþ to ceſe moſt ſynnes. Þer is euel, þat I ſaȝ vnder þe ſunne, as bi errour goende out fro þe face of þe prince; a fool ſet in heeȝ dignete, and riche men to ſeete beneþe. I ſaȝ ſeruauntis in hors, and princes goende as ſeruauns vp on erþe. Who delueþ a dich, falliþ in to it; and who ſcatereþ þe hegg, ſhal biten hym þe ſhadewe eddere. Who berþ ouer ſtones, ſhal be tormentid in hem; and who hewiþ trees, ſhal be woundid of hem. If aȝeen ſmyten were þe iren, and þat not as bifore, but were bluntid, wiþ myche trauaile ſhall be whettid out; and aftir þe beſyneſſe ſhal folewe wiſdam. If þe eddere bijte in ſilence, no þing laſſe þan he haþ, þat priueli bacbiteþ. Þe wrdis of þe wiſe mouþ grace; and þe lippis of þe vnwiſe ſhuln ſtumblen hym doun. Þe bigynnyng of þe wrdis of hym folie; and þe laſt þing of þe mouþ of hym werſt errour. A fool multeplieþ wrdes; a man vnknowiþ what beforn hym was, and what after is to come, who to hym ſhal moun ſhewe? Þe labour of foolys ſhal tormenten hem, þat kunnen not in to þe cite gon. Wo to þee, þou lond, whos king is a child, and whos princes erli eten. Blisful þe lond, whos king is noble; and whos princes eten in þer time, to fillen, and not to leccherie. In ſlouþis ſhal be mekid þe ioynyng of ſparres; and in infirmyte of hondis þe hous ſhal droppe þurȝ. In laȝhing þei make bred and wyn, þat þei ete drinkende; and to monee obeſhen alle þingus. In þi þenking ne bacbite þou to þe king, and in þe priuyte of þi bed, ne curſe þou to þe riche man; for and þe foulis of heuene ſhuln bern þi vois, and þat haþ federes, ſhal telle out ſentence.
Send þi bred vp on men paſſende watris, for after manye times þou ſhalt finden it. Ȝif partis ſeuene, and alſo eiȝte; for þou knowiſt not, what be to comen of euelis vp on erþe. If þe cloudis weren fulfild, weder vp on erþe þei ſhul heelden out; if þe tree ſhul falle to þe ſouþ, or to þe norþ, in what euere place it ſhul falle, þere it ſhal be. Who waiteþ wind, ſowiþ not; and who biholdiþ cloudis, neuermore ſhal repe. What maner wiſe þou knoweſt not, what be þe weie of þe ſpirit, and bi what reſoun bones ben ioyned in þe wombe of þe womman wiþ childe, ſo þou woſt not þe werkes of God, þat is forgere of alle þingus. Erli ſowe þi ſeed, and at eue ne ceſe þin hond; for þou woſt neuer, whiche more growe, þis or þat; and if eiþer togidere, þe betere ſhal be. Sweete þe tree, and delitable is to eȝen to ſeen þe ſunne. If manye ȝeres a man lyuede, and in alle þeſe þingus were glad, he owiþ to han mynde of þe derke tyme, and of many daȝes; þe whiche whan þei ſhul come, of vanyte ſhul ben vndernomen þe paſſed tymes. Þanne glade þou, ȝunge man, in þi waxende age, and in good be þin herte in þe daȝes of þi ȝouþe, and go in þe weies of þin herte, and in þe ſiȝte of þin eȝen; and wite þou, þat for alle þeſe þingus God ſhal bringe þee in to dom. Do awei wraþe fro þin herte, and put awei malice fro þi fleſh; forſoþe waxende age and voluptuouſte ben veyn.
Haue mynde of þi creatour in þe daȝis of þi ȝouþe, and er time come of tormenting, and neȝhen þe ȝeres, of þe whiche þou ſeye, Þei pleſen not to me. Er þe ſunne waxe derc, and liȝt, and ſterres, and moone; and þe cloudis turnen aȝeen after reyn. Whan ſhul be moued þe keperes of þe hous, and þe moſt ſtrong men wageren; and idil ſhuln ben þe wymmen grindende in a litil noumbre, and ſeende bi holes ſhul waxe derc; and cloſen þe dores in þe ſtrete, in þe mekneſſe of þe vois of hir grindende; and þei ſhul riſe at þe vois of þe brid, and alle þe doȝtris of þe ſong ſhul become doumb. Heȝe þingus alſo ſhul dreden, and quaken in þe weie; þe almaunder ſhal flouren, and þe locuſt ſhal be mad fat, and þe erbe caperis ſhal be ſcatered; for a man ſhal gon in to þe hous of his euerlaſtingneſſe, and men weilende ſhul gon aboute in þe ſtrete. Er be to-broke þe ſilueren corde, and aȝeen come þe goldene filet, and þe ſtene be to-broſid vp on þe welle, and to-broke be þe wheel vp on þe ciſterne; and pouder turne aȝeen in to his erþe, whenes he was, and þe ſpirit go aȝeen to God, þat ȝaf it. Vanyte of vanytes, ſeide Ecleſiaſtes, vanyte of vanytes, and alle þingus vanyte. And whan Ecleſiaſtes was moſt wis, he taȝte þe puple, and tolde out what he hadde do, and enſerchende made manye parablis; he ſoȝte profitable wrdis, and wrot moſt riȝt ſermounes, and ful of treuþe. Þe wrdis of wiſe men as prickes, and as nailes in to heiȝte piȝt, þat bi þe counſeiles of maiſtris ben ȝiuen of oon ſhepperde. More þan þeſe, ſone myn, ne ſeche þou; of making manye bokis is noon ende, and ofte beþenking is tormenting of þe fleſh. Eende of ſpeking alle heere wee togidere. Dred God, and his heſtis kep; þat is, eche man. Alle þingus þat ben mad, he ſhal bringe in to dom; for eche errid þing, wheþer good or euel it be.
Here endiþ Eccleſiaſtes, and here bigynneþ þe book, þat is clepid Soongis of Soongis, of þe bridalis of Criſt and of þe Chirche.