The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiastes
Words of the Spokesman,✻ king David’s son, that reigned once at Jerusalem.
A shadow’s shadow, he tells us, a shadow’s shadow; a world of shadows!
How is man the better for all this toiling of his, here under the sun?
Age succeeds age, and the world goes on unaltered.
Sun may rise and sun may set, but ever it goes back and is reborn.
Round to the south it moves, round to the north it turns; the wind, too, though it makes the round of the world, goes back to the beginning of its round at last.
All the rivers flow into the sea, yet never the sea grows full; back to their springs they find their way, and must be flowing still.
Weariness, all weariness; who shall tell the tale? Eye looks on unsatisfied; ear listens, ill content.
Ever that shall be that ever has been, that which has happened once shall happen again;
there can be nothing new, here under the sun. Never man calls a thing new, but it is something already known to the ages that went before us;
only we have no record of older days. So, believe me, the fame of to-morrow’s doings will be forgotten by the men of a later time.
I was a king in my day, I, the Spokesman; Israel my realm, Jerusalem my capital.
And it was my resolve to search deep and find out the meaning of all that men do, here under the sun; all that curse of busy toil which God has given to the sons of Adam for their task.
All that men do beneath the sun I marked, and found it was but frustration and lost labour, all of it;
there was no curing men’s cross-grained nature, no reckoning up their follies.
I at least (so I flattered myself) have risen above the rest; a king so wise never reigned at Jerusalem;✻ here is a mind has reflected much, and much learned.
And therewith I applied my mind to a new study; what meant wisdom and learning, what meant ignorance and folly? And I found that this too was labour lost;
much wisdom, much woe; who adds to learning, adds to the load we bear.
The Holy Bible