1 All people, hearken and give ear
to that, which I shall tell,
Both high and low, both rich and poor,
that in the world do dwell;
2 For why? my mouth shall make discourse
of many things most wise,
In understanding shall my heart
its study exercise.
3 I will incline my ear to know
the parable so dark,
And open all my doubtful speech
in metre on my harp.
4 Wherefore should I affliction fear
or any careful toil?
Or else my foes, which at my heels
do press my life to spoil?
5 For as for such as riches have,
wherein their trust is most,
And they, who of their treasures great,
proudly do brag and boast;
6 There is not one of them, that can
his brother's life redeem,
Or give a ransom unto God
sufficient in esteem;
7 It is too great a price to pay,
none can thereto attain,
So that he might his life prolong,
nor in the grave remain.
8 They see wise men, as well as fools
are subject to death's bands
And being dead, strangers possess
their houses goods and lands.
9 Their care is to build houses fair
and so determine sure
To make their names upon the earth
for ever to endure.
10 Yet shall no man always enjoy
high honour, wealth, and rest;
But must at length submit to death,
as well as the brute beast
The Second Part.
11 And tho' they find their foolish thoughts
to be most lewd and vain,
Their children yet approve their talk,
and in like sin remain.
12 As sheep into the fold are brought
they shall be laid in grave;
Death shall them eat, and in that day
the just shall lordship have;
13 Their beauty and their royal port
shall fade and quite decay,
When from their house unto the pit
with woe they pass away.
14 But God will surely me preserve
from death and endless pain,
Because he will of his good grace
my soul receive again.
15 If any man grow wondrous rich,
be not afraid therefore,
Altho' the glory of his house
increaseth more, and more:
16 For when he dies, of all these things
nothing shall lie receive,
His glory will not follow him,
his pomp will take its leave.
17 Yet in this life he counts himself
the happiest under sun;
And others likewise flatter him,
saying, All is well done,
18 But yet if he should live so long
as did his fathers old,
Yet must he needs at length give place,
and be brought to death's fold.
19 Man, that in honour lives, and doth
not understand, may be
Compar'd unto the very beasts
that perish utterly.