1 Dead flies cause a bad smell [and] ruin the ointment of the perfumer. So also a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise [inclines] to his right, but the heart of the fool [inclines] to his left.
3 Even when the fool walks along the road, he lacks sense; he tells everyone [that] he is a fool.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post, for calmness can undo great offenses.
5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun-- [it is] an error that proceeds from a ruler!
6 The fool is set in many high places, but the rich sit in lowly places.
7 I have even seen slaves [riding] on horses and princes walking like slaves on the earth!

Accidents Happen—Even to Professionals

8 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it. Whoever breaks through a wall, a snake will bite him.
9 Whoever {quarries} stones will be wounded by them. Whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.

Hard Work and Skill Alone Cannot Succeed—Wisdom is Necessary

10 If the ax is blunt but one does not sharpen its edge, {he must exert more effort}, but the advantage of wisdom [is] it brings success.
11 If the snake bites before the charming, {the snake charmer will not succeed}.

The Consequences of Foolishness

12 The wise man [wins] favor by the words of his mouth, but the fool is devoured by his own lips.
13 He begins by saying what is foolish and ends by uttering what is wicked delusion.
14 The fool {talks too much}, for no one knows what will be. Who can tell anyone what will happen {in the future}?
15 The fool is so worn out by a hard day's work {he cannot even find his way home at night}.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a youth and your princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is a son of nobility and your princes feast at the proper time-- to gain strength and not to get drunk.
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.
19 {Feasts are held for celebration}, wine cheers the living, and money answers everything.
20 Do not curse the king even in your thoughts, and do not curse the rich even in your own bedroom, for a bird of the sky may carry your voice; a winged messenger may repeat your words.