Wisdom's Tell-Tale

One fair day the sultan walked about his cityPlain in dress, together with his high vizier.On the spot he noticed lying in the gutterA dime which he, stooping, picked up in great haste.The vizier, who witnessed this parsimonyMade so bold in asking of his majesty:'Please forgive a question which I die to poseAnd whose answer surely my soul would compose.Tell me, dear master, how that dime, so little -Which some see worth nothing, if the truth be told -Has so caught your lordship, rich in many a treasurePrompting you to take it?' And the sultan answered:'He who, by his nature, disregards the farthingBuilds up much less care, from this trifling measure,For the bigger money of so much more worth:And the man who's able well to live, judicious,Can thus make the farthing guard each coin more precious;You've just said a farthing's not much of a thing -But how bad when lacking, if you come to think!Every dime's a trifle yet it gains importance,When one can't buy one's bread in its mere absence.So, to preen the farthing is the wise man's care -As 't'were like a sovereign which one ought to spare;And the mocking spendthrift who will let it go,Soon he'll live to miss it and be filled with woe.Far be it from saying man should turn a niggard,Or so take to silver that he end up haggard,Staking all on money and his benefits; All I say's he'd better train himself for savingSo that when he gives out money he stays waryWith a view to stashing it for him and others,Equally preventing everybody's worry.Why for him? To soothe himself in case misfortuneShould befall him, either being ill or needy,And to work unable, and deprived of mightWhen so low in one's luck and so crispy;And then, why for others? To be filled with pityAnd disposed to rescue people from their plight.To give for Salvation's sake one's alms,To end destitution and to have no qualms,Dressing up the poor, victims of the fires,And of rising water overflowing banks, Those whom theft and plunder naked leave behind,Seeing to their sorrow, wiping out their tears,While extending money from one's own stuffed purse. On Discussion, or Pastimes and Joking There's a time to laugh and a time to cry (Ecclesiastes)When they speak of laughter, this is not for crying,And when of crying, it is not to make you laugh. So don't come withLaughing mixed with crying. As one neighbour said:My husband's lying in on his bier and here you've made me laugh. AlthoughThere can't be death without laughter and wedding without tears. And thenGuileless jokingIs like salt you taste while eating. For'Tis with laughter and cheeringThat they pick up fruit every harvest season.And the best brandy's for the usurer to use. So don't say that:I'm in my throesAnd he's hopping on his toes. But rather:Let every thing come in good timeAnd when you pull a fast oneDon't whip the catAnd don't play the heel. For When two beasts swing with each otherThey spoil the high old time and fine weather. AndThe friend in earnestWill turn your foe after sending him up. ForOne man will pull a niftyFor the other man's tizzy. SoThe fast one's not the best one. And againIf you go on a shindyDon't keep you mouth shut and be spoil sport. But thenTalk too much and err even more While alsoYou may answer a question even when you keep quiet. 'Cause the wise man says:Say something better than silence or keep silent. So that you don't get people replying:'Now you've had your say and keep coughing!'Speak without much thinkingAnd you'll eat a hasty pudding.. AndI wonder where he pulls his nifties from. AndWait until he opens his bagIf you want to hear a gag. Which is as much as to sayDon't indulge in too much talk,Seal your lips with a good lock. For all knowSlander's the best messenger, And soThe one word you said raised hell for you So why not hear them say:'That's a true man: he makes all the birds in the garden chirp with joy' And'Everything's hotsy-totsy providing he does all the talking' Rather than hear this:'He's somewhat off the point.' Or even'He's cooling us off as he's always ranting.' For they sayWhen big crowds won't give their earTo your worthy wordLet them be and disappearAnd pretend you are at work. ForIt's as good as cackling geeseAnd flies buzzing close to these. Or again,When they've started doing talkingIt's like Jewish Talmud reading. On Saving Don't stretch your feet beyond the quiltForIf you lay a crooked sheet on your bed you'll sleep a crooked sleep.AndShould you spend more than you earn you'll have no milk left to churn.

Take a good look at the country and you'll tell its custom too.Eye the saint and guess his incense.Sew and darn rather than buy new clothes for charm.Weld the gap while it's still narrow.No man should come up bottom first in the market, but rather show his face up to people.And againClothes can't make a man any worthier.Good cheese in a bad dog's barrel.Pearls and diamonds hanging from the pig's neck.OrGolden ring stuck in the pig's snout.ForThe garden flower differs from the posy.AndYou should spend a good deal to keep your cheek smooth to the touch.Everyone knows his own sore spot.Every man's pocket kicks up a racket.There's no man without a flea in his ear now and then, here and there.The bigger the boat, the higher the waves that sway it.SoDon't measure up to the uppity.ForIf you've got a great deal of pepper, you'll sprinkle some in the porridge, too.AndFat the meat - pour some tallow, too, in it!ButThough he's learned some, he can now unlearn it!AsThere's more days in a year than just Easter!AndShow me the man who wouldn't fain live like the hen at the mill!'CauseHe's in such great need that he'll end up living like the calf in the city!And Man can't have his way; he has to see whither the will of God will lie.My nuncle likes the stew but his teeth won't help him chew.It's so hard way-down the slope and the way up's beyond hope!Woe to him who goes buying barley from the geese.Fill your cellar with victuals - all in good time.Summer garbage turns into good pepper in the winter.A wise guy buys his sledge in the summer and his cart in the winter.AndTie the knapsack while it's still round not when it's reached the flat ground. 'Cause The bag you keep taking from without replenishing the stock will remain depleted.Dimes are round on the edge and easy to roll hence. Earning is hard and spending's all too easy.You take it one by one and spend it in handfuls.AndMind the millet 'cause it's too hard to pick.ForEven the sun, big though he is, cannot keep all things always warm.ButWhen your yard goes thirsty don't pour water on the roads.AndWait until you see the clear waterBefore you spill the muddy one.AndUnless you've seen the good one, don't cast away the bad.ForDon't crave for the sturdiest log which you won't have the knack to crack! He'll be seized with the purse fever!And soThere's no more serious illness than the one called "purse emptiness".'CauseThe man with no money is like the bird with no wings: the moment it would fly it will just fall down and die.That's whyYou'd better stay well and have no need of the doctor.ForWhoever lives with bare hopes is sure to die full of regrets.A man's relatives are the pocket full of money and the bag full of barley.The well-fed man has no sympathy for the underfed. It'll be ages before the rich man feels benevolent towards the poor.You bank on the father and the mother checks out.There's nothing as good as health and money.SinceGood health makes money and money makes good healthOn the sunny side of the street there lurk enemies.But thenThe man with no foes doesn't live on the sunny side.The money the eager beaver has isn't frittered away with time.Man makes money and money makes man what he is.SoYou'd better save for a rainy day.When the dime comes your way, make sure you tie it up in nine knots.Pick me when I lie on the road,Get me every time you're short.'CauseEvery madman knows how to earn money but not how to keep it.He who doesn't spare the farthing will take no pity on the sovereign.

by Anton Pann (1794-1854)