Thus an aged father taught his free-born son,
a mind-wise man, elderly in virtue of his kinsmen,
in perceptive words, so that he was well proud: (ll. 1-3)

“Always do what best avails you, and your work will succeed.
God will always be yours, belonging to every good man
your master and comfort—the Fiend is for the others,
the worse workman. Hope for the better,
even this courage, always so long as you live.
Cherish your father and mother with your heart,
and every one of your kindred, so long as they love the Measurer.
Always be gracious to your elders, fair-worded,
and let your teachers be beloved in your spirit and mind,
those who would bolster you to good most eagerly.” (ll. 4-14)

The elderly father soon challenged his son
a second time: “Keep dear this virtue!
Perform no crimes, nor ever tolerate them
in your friends or kinsmen, lest the Measurer
reproach you, as an abettor of such faults.
He may yield the punishment to you,
what belongs to others, to their prosperity.” (ll. 15-20)

A third time the thought-wise man
instructed his son from his inmost treasury:
“Do not keep company with those beneath you,
to the width of your life, nor esteem any of them,
but take on that one who always speaks
in good news and teachings, counsel-minded.
About the rich, let it be just as it can be.” (ll. 21-26)

A fourth time the father taught again
his mind-beloved son, so that he remembered this:
“Abandon not your most intimate friend,
but ever always keep him close—
as is rightly fitting. Perform this courtesy,
so that you never become vile to your own friend.” (ll. 27-31)

A fifth time the father yet again began
to instruct his child by his breast-thoughts:
“Shelter yourself from drunken and daft words,
malicious in your mind, and lying in your mouth—
anger and spite and lechery for the ladies.
Therefore shame-minded he must often venture
who turns away from the love of his wife
for strange women. There will always be
an expectation of sin, a hateful shame—
an enduring malice towards God—
an overwhelming arrogance. Always be wise of your reasons,
wary against your desires, a warden of your words.” (ll. 32-42)

A sixth time the benevolent man soon began
through blithe intentions to teach his child:
“Eagerly perceive what may be good or evil,
and distinguish them always sharp-mindedly
in your heart and ever choose the better.
It will always be parted for you—if your mind avails—
wisdom dwells within, and you know readily
the sense of evil, held against you stoutly—
care for the good in your spirit always.” (ll. 43-51)

A seventh time the father taught his son,
an aged man, saying many things to the younger:
“Seldom will the wise man, though sorrowless, exult,
likewise will the fool rarely rejoice, filled with regrets,
about his destiny, unless he knows enmity.
Guarded in speech, a wisdom-fast warrior
must consider his heart, not all booming in voice.” (ll. 52-58)

An eighth time the elderly father began
to admonish his son with mild words:
“Learn these precepts, suitable for instruction,
Hope for yourself in wisdom—and keep
the Shaper of Armies in your expectations,
mindful of his saints, and keep truth ever in your sight—
when you say what you say.” (ll. 59-64)

A ninth time the old man addressed him,
the aged sage, saying to his own children:
“There are not many men who wish to keep
the ancient scriptures, but his mind decays,
his courage cools, discipline falling idle—
nor do they have any bit left over for that,
though they do disgrace instead of the Measurer’s commandment.
Many shall be rewarded with the soul’s torment.
Yet allow your inner heart to hold from now on
these olden writings and the judgments of the Master,
which men everywhere in this place abandon in their ambition
declining precipitously, when righteousness should be theirs.” (ll. 65-75)

And for a tenth time, filled with miserable sorrows,
the older man soon began to instruct his heir:
“He enjoys wisdoms who for the love of his soul
always guards himself against disgrace of words
and deeds in his self-keeping and performs the truth—
every gift will be augmented for him, profitable
in power, when he flies away from wickedness. (ll. 76-82)

“Don’t allow anger ever to control you,
cresting in your chest, or the ground of spiteful words,
to defile you with its welling-forth—
but your mind will keep him best in his heart.
A wise warrior must be moderate, keen of mind,
perceptive in his thoughts, eager for lore,
so he can gather his blessings among men. (ll. 83-89)

“Don’t ever be a slanderer, nor a double-talker,
nor allow men to urge you to wickedness in your mind,
but be gracious instead, bearing a light breast-coffer
in your thoughts. And so you, my child, be mindful
of the teaching of your aged father—
and always keep yourself away from wickedness.” (ll. 90-94)


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