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This is a minimised version of the work.
It is the tongue that brings a man esteem, so that he finds fortune,
and it is the tongue that brings a man dishonour, so that he loses his head.
The tongue is a lion crouching on the threshold—
householder, take care, or it will bite off your head!
Let me cut out my tongue—it is what ruined me—
only let them not cut off my head!
Guard your speech lest you lose your head,
and guard your tongue lest you break your teeth.
Use speech sparingly,
for a single word may untie the knots caused by ten thousand others.
Hold your tongue and you will hold on to your head.
Shorten your speech and you will lengthen your life.
Speak knowledgeably, therefore,
and your words will be an eye to the blind.
What is born dies, but words remain a sign,
so speak good words and you will be immortal.
Apply silver to affairs and it will be used up,
but apply my words and you will gain silver.
Gold that lies in brown earth’s bosom is only ore,
but when it is extracted it becomes the ornament of princes.
Wise men are like marshy soil:
wherever one steps, water bubbles forth out.
The speaker expends himself and grows weak,
while the listener is comfortable and grows fat.
Words left unspoken are purest gold,
but as soon as they emerge on the tongue, they turn to copper.
Controlling these two things – the tongue and the throat –
is the hallmark of wisdom, and reddens a man’s cheeks.
The wise man has power over throat and tongue,
he who guards tongue and throat is full of knowledge.
So let your tongue bring forth your words if they are straight;
but if they are crooked, then keep them hidden.
Musk and wisdom are of the same sort:
neither one can be kept hidden.