1 All people hearken, and give eare
to that which I shall tell:
2 Both high and low, both rich and poore
that in the world do dwell.
3 For why? my mouth shall make discourse
of many things most wise:
In understanding shall my heart
its study exercise.
4 I will incline mine ear to know
the parable so dark,
And open all my doubtfull speech
in meeter on my harp.
5 Whey should I feare afflictions,
or any carefull toile:
Or else my foes which at my heeles
are prest my life to spoile.
6 For as for such as riches have,
wherein their trust is most:
And they who of their treasures great
themselves do brag and boast
7 There is not one of them that can,
his brother's life redeem:
Or that can give a price to God
sufficient for him.
8 It is too great a price to pay,
none can thereto attaine:
Or that he might his life prolong?
or not in grave remaine.
9 They see wise men as well as fooles,
subject unto deaths bands:
And being dead strangers possesse
their goods, their rents, their lands.
10 Their care is to build houses faire,
and so determine sure,
To make their name right great on earth
for ever to endure.
11 Yet shall no man alwaies enjoy
high honour, wealth, and rest:
12 But shall at length tast deaths cup
as well as the bruit beast.
The second Part.
13 And though they find their foolish thoughts
to be most lewd and vaine:
Their children yet approve their talk,
and in like sin remaine.
14 As sheep into the fold are brought
they shall be laid in grave:
Death shall them eate and in that day,
the just shall Lordship have.
Their image and their royall port
shall fade and quite decay:
When as from house to pit they passe,
with wo and weale away.
15 But God will surely preserve me
from death and endless paine:
Because he will of his good grace,
my soule receive againe.
16 If any man waxe wondrous rich,
feare not I say therefore:
Although the glory of his house
increaseth more and more:
17 For when he dies, of all these things
nothing shall he receive:
His glory will not follow him,
his pomp will take her leave.
18 Yet in this life he counts himselfe
the happiest under Sun:
And others likewise flatter him,
saying all is well done.
19 And presuppose he live as long
as did his fathers old:
Yet must he needs at length give place,
and be brought to deaths fold.
20 Thus man to honour God hath brought
yet doth he not consider:
But like bruit beasts so doth he live
which turn to dust and powder