1 A few dead flies in perfume
make all of it stink,
and a little foolishness
outweighs a lot of wisdom.
2 Sensible thoughts lead you
to do right;
foolish thoughts lead you
to do wrong.
3 Fools show their stupidity
by the way they live;
it's easy to see
they have no sense.
4 Don't give up your job
when your boss gets angry.
If you stay calm,
you'll be forgiven.

5 Rulers do some things that are terribly unfair: 6 They honor fools, but dishonor the rich; 7 they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.

8 If you dig a pit,
you might fall in;
if you break down a wall,
a snake might bite you.
9 You could even get hurt
by chiseling a stone
or chopping a log.
10 If you don't sharpen your ax,
it will be harder to use;
if you are wise,
you'll know what to do.
11 The power to charm a snake
does you no good
if it bites you anyway.

12 If you talk sensibly,
you will have friends;
if you talk foolishly,
you will destroy yourself.
13 Fools begin with nonsense,
and their stupid chatter
ends with disaster.
14 They never tire of talking,
but none of us really know
what the future will bring.
15 Fools wear themselves out—
they don't know enough
to find their way home.

16 A country is in for trouble
when its ruler is childish,
and its leaders
party all day long.
17 But a nation will prosper
when its ruler is mature,
and its leaders
don't party too much.
18 Some people are too lazy
to fix a leaky roof—
then the house collapses.
19 Eating and drinking
make you feel happy,
and money can buy
everything you need.
20 Don't let yourself think about
cursing the king;
don't curse the rich,
not even in secret.
A little bird might hear
and tell everything.