1 I tretide alle these thingis in myn herte, to vndirstonde diligentli. Iust men, and wise men ben, and her werkis ben in the hond of God; and netheles a man noot, whether he is worthi of loue or of hatrede.
2 But alle thingis ben kept vncerteyn in to tyme to comynge; for alle thingis bifallen euenli to a iust man and to a wickid man, to a good man and to an yuel man, to a cleene man and to an vnclene man, to a man offrynge offryngis and sacrifices, and to a man dispisynge sacrifices; as a good man, so and a synnere; as a forsworun man, so and he that greetli swerith treuthe.
3 This thing is the worste among alle thingis, that ben don vndur the sunne, that the same thingis bifallen to alle men; wherfor and the hertis of the sones of men ben fillid with malice and dispisyng in her lijf; and aftir these thingis thei schulen be led doun to hellis.
4 No man is, that lyueth euere, and that hath trist of this thing; betere is a quik dogge than a deed lioun.
5 For thei that lyuen witen that thei schulen die; but deed men knowen no thing more, nether han meede ferthere; for her mynde is youun to foryetyng.
6 Also the loue, and hatrede, and enuye perischiden togidere; and thei han no part in this world, and in the werk that is don vndur the sunne.
7 Therfor go thou, iust man, and ete thi breed in gladnesse, and drynke thi wiyn with ioie; for thi werkis plesen God.
8 In ech tyme thi clothis be white, and oile faile not fro thin heed.
9 Vse thou lijf with the wijf which thou louest, in alle the daies of lijf of thin vnstablenesse, that ben youun to thee vndur sunne, in al the tyme of thi vanyte; for this is thi part in thi lijf and trauel, bi which thou trauelist vndur the sunne.
10 Worche thou bisili, what euer thing thin hond mai do; for nether werk, nether resoun, nethir kunnyng, nether wisdom schulen be at hellis, whidir thou haastist.
11 I turnede me to another thing, and Y siy vndur sunne, that rennyng is not of swift men, nethir batel is of stronge men, nether breed is of wise men, nether richessis ben of techeris, ne grace is of crafti men; but tyme and hap is in alle thingis.
12 A man knowith not his ende; but as fischis ben takun with an hook, and as briddis ben takun with a snare, so men ben takun in yuel tyme, whanne it cometh sudeynli on hem.
13 Also Y siy this wisdom vndur the sunne, and Y preuede it the mooste.
14 A litil citee, and a fewe men ther ynne; a greet kyng cam ayens it, and cumpasside it with palis, and he bildide strengthis bi cumpas; and bisegyng was maad perfit.
15 And a pore man and a wijs was foundun ther ynne; and he delyuerede the citee bi his wisdom, and no man bithouyte aftirward on that pore man.
16 And Y seide, that wisdom is betere than strengthe; hou therfor is the wisdom of a pore man dispisid, and hise wordis ben not herd?
17 The wordis of wise men ben herd in silence, more than the cry of a prince among foolis.
18 Betere is wisdom than armuris of batel; and he that synneth in o thing, schal leese many goodis.