I promised I would watch my steps
so as not to sin with my tongue;
promised to keep my mouth shut as long as the wicked where in my presence.
So I was completely quiet, silent.
I kept my peace, but it did no good.
My pain got worse.
My heart got hot inside me;
while stewing over it, the fire burned.
Then I spoke out with my tongue:
"Let me know me end, Lord.
How many days do I have left?
I want to know how brief my time is."
You've made my days so short;
my lifetime is like nothing in your eyes.
Yes, a human life is nothing but a puff of air!
Yes, people wander around like shadows;
yes, they hustle and bustle, but pointlessly;
they don't even know who will ge the wealth they've amassed.
SO now, Lord, what should I be waiting for?
My hope is set on you.
Deliver me from all my sins;
don't make me some foolish person's joke.
I am completely silent; I won't open my mouth because you have acted.
Get this plague of yours off me!
I'm being destroyed by the blows from your fist.
You discipline people for their sin, punishing them;
like a moth, you ruin what they treasure.
Yes, a human life is just a puff of air!
Hear my prayer, Lord!
Listen closely to my cry for help!
Please don't ignore my tears!
I'm just a foreigner --
an immigrant staying with you,
just like my ancestors were.
Look away from me so I can be happy again
before I pass away and am gone.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
I am of old and young,
of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal,
a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is course,
and stuffed with the stuff that is fine.
In all people I see myself,
none more and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself
I say of them.
In the faces of men and women I see God,
and in my own face in the glass,
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun ad the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem…