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discussion and analysis presented after these
translated stanzas is our
opinion. Read the translations for yourself and our analysis, but also seek
out varied sources and come to your own conclusions.
STANZA 24 OF THE
Auden & Taylor:
The fool thinks that those who laugh
him are all his friends,
Unaware when he sits with wiser men
How ill they speak of him.
The foolish man | for friends all
Who laugh at him will hold;
When among the wise | he
marks it not
Though hatred of him they speak.
The unwise man weens all who smile
flatter him are his friends,
nor notes how oft they speak him
when he sits in the circle of the wise.
The stupid man thinks
that all who laugh
at him are friends
He does not notice how the talk goes
he sits with wise men.
The unwise man weens that all
with him, like him too;
nor sees their scorn, though they sneer
on bench 'midst the sag when he sits.
The foolish man thinks everyone his
who laughs when he does;
if wise men mock him behind
he'll never know.
A foolish man
thinks all who on him smile
to be his friends;
he feels it not,
although they speak
ill of him,
when he sits among the clever.
ANALYSIS OF STANZA 24
At first reading, several of these
translations (Auden & Taylor, Bellows, and Chisholm) make it
sound like the foolish man thinks that all who "laugh at him are his
friends." And, this makes it sort of sound like people are
laughing at him...or making fun of him. But, I think Bray,
Hollander, Terry, and Thorpe translations are closer to the intended
meaning, when they suggest that the fool believes that everyone who
laughs with him is his friend. Everyone who "laughs when he
does." Bray attempts to make this as clear as possible by
putting, "all who smile and
Essentially, lines 1 and 2 say that the Fool
believes that everyone who is nice to him is his friend.
Everyone who glad-hands him. Everyone who laughs at his
jokes. Everyone who smiles when he walks in a room. The
fool takes these rather shallow indications...as indications of
Lines 3 and 4, describe the truth of the
matter. If these "friends" mock the fool behind his back he'll
never know it (Terry). The fool has no clue about how these
"friends" speak ill of him when he sits among the wise (at a feast
This stanza warns against falling for the
tricks of those that are two-faced. Those that glad-hand you,
laugh at your jokes, and tell you over and over how great you
are. It warns that these people may have an entirely different
attitude about you when you are not present...or not looking.
To your face they may be all smiles and pleasantries, but behind
your back they may be working against you. The fool is unaware
of this, but the wise man
The wise man also knows the difference
between acquaintances and true friends. The difference betwen
those you are familiar with and those that are actually loyal to
you. The difference between those you've met and those you
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