¶ Man that is born of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is full of divers miseries. He cometh up and falleth away like a flower. He flyeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one state. Thinkest thou it now well done, to open thine eyes upon such one, and to bring me before thee in judgement? Who can make it clean, that cometh from an unclean thing? Nobody. The days of man are short, the number of his months are known only to thee. Thou hast appointed him his bounds, he can not go beyond them. Go from him, that he may rest a little: until his day come, which he looketh for, like as an hireling doth.
¶ If a tree be cut down, there is some hope yet, that it will sprout and shoot forth the branches again; For though a root be waxen old and dead in the ground, yet when the stock geteth the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth bows, like as when it was first planted. But as for man, when he is dead, perished and consumed away, what becometh of him? The floods when they be dried up, and the rivers when they be empty, are filled again thorow the flowing waters of the sea: but when man sleepeth, he riseth not again, until the heaven perish: he shall not wake up nor rise out of his sleep. O that thou wouldest keep me, and hide me in the hell, until thy wrath were stilled: and to appoint me a time, wherein thou mightest remember me. May a dead man live again? All the days of this my pilgrimage am I looking, when my changing shall come. If thou wouldest but call me, I should obey thee: only despise not the work of thine own hands.
¶ For thou hast numbered all my goings, yet be not thou too extreme upon my sins. Thou hast sealed up mine offenses, as it were in a bag: but be merciful unto my wickedness. The mountains fall away at the last, the rocks are removed out of their place, the waters pierce thorow the very stones by little and little, the floods wash away the gravel and the earth: Even so destroyest thou the hope of man in like manner. Thou prevailest against him, so that he passeth away: thou changes his estate, and puttest him from thee. Whether his children come to worship or no, he can not tell: And if they be men of low degree, he knoweth not. While he liveth, his flesh must have travail: And while the soul is in him, he must be in sorrow.