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 mine 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,
         or not in 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 though 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,
      Although 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.
      Compared unto the very beasts
         that perish utterly.