I am A Man of Letters. I’ve been reading lately, and I have found some words I would like to share. Today, selections from “Ecclesiastes.” Ecclesiastes is found in the Christian Bible as well as the Hebrew Torah. It was composed by an anonymous author in the Third Century.
So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and beheld the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
Yes, better is he than both they which has not yet been and who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
The fool folds his hands together, and eats his own flesh.
Better is a hand full with quietness, than both hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he has neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither says he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yes, it is a sore travail.
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.
For out of prison he comes to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becomes poor.
I considered all the living who walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Keep your footing when you go to the House of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in Heaven, and you on Earth: therefore let your words be few.
For a dream comes through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.
Better is it that you should not vow, than you should vow and not pay.
Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say you before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?
For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear you God.
If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for He that is higher than the highest regards; and there be higher than they.
Moreover the profit of the Earth is for all: the King himself is served by the field.
He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begets a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor which he may carry away in his hand.
And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit has he that has labored for the wind?
All his days also he eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he takes under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
For he will not much remember the days of his life; because God answers him in the joy of his heart.
There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:
A man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wants nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God gives him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eats it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
If a man beget a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
For he comes in with vanity, and departs in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
Moreover he has not seen the sun, nor known anything: this has more rest than the other.
Yes, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet has he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
For what has the wise more than the fool? what has the poor, that knows to walk before the living?
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
That which has been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.
Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?
For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?
Thank you for listening. For more information about the words I have read and the music to follow, please visit A Man of Letters. amoletters.com.
Until I return, I am… A Man of Letters.
Wilfred Glenn – The Mighty Deep (Edison 3959 1920).