I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;1 nothing was gained under the sun.2
Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.3 What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?413
I saw that wisdom5 is better than folly,6 just as light is better than darkness.
The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.715
Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?"8 I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless."
For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;9 in days to come both will be forgotten.10 Like the fool, the wise man too must die!11
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.1218
I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.1319
And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?14 Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.