1Dead flies in perfume make it stink,
And a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom.
2 Wise thinking leads to right living;
Stupid thinking leads to wrong living.
3 Fools on the road have no sense of direction.
The way they walk tells the story: “There goes the fool again!”
4 If a ruler loses his temper against you, don’t panic;
A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage.
5-7 Here’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.
8 Caution: The trap you set might catch you.
Warning: Your accomplice in crime might double-cross you.
9 Safety first: Quarrying stones is dangerous.
Be alert: Felling trees is hazardous.
10 Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work;
Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle.
11 If the snake bites before it’s been charmed,
What’s the point in then sending for the charmer?
12-13 The 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.
14 Fools talk way too much,
Chattering stuff they know nothing about.
15 A decent day’s work so fatigues fools
That they can’t find their way back to town.
16-17 Unlucky 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.
18 A shiftless man lives in a tumbledown shack;
A lazy woman ends up with a leaky roof.
19 Laughter and bread go together,
And wine gives sparkle to life—
But it’s money that makes the world go around.
20 Don’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.