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The 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.


Auden & Taylor:

Once he has won wealth enough,
A man should not crave for more:
What he saves for friends, foes may take;
Hopes are often liars.


If wealth a man | has won for himself,
Let him never suffer in need;
Oft he saves for a foe | what he plans for a friend,
For much goes worse than we wish.


Let no man stint him and suffer need
of the wealth he has won in life;
oft is saved for a foe what was meant for a friend,
and much goes worse than one weens.


One should not have too much need of the goods
he has gotten. Often one squanders
on enemies what was intended for loved ones.
Many affairs go awry.


Of his worldly goods which he gotten hath
let a man not stint overmuch;
oft is lavished on foe what for friend was saved,
for matters go often amiss.


A man should spend his hard-earned money
on whatever he may want;
saving for dear ones may serve the detested:
things often don't work out our way.


Of the property which he has gained
no man should suffer need;
for the hated oft is spared what for the dear was destined.
Much goes worse than is expected.


While the previous stanza, stanza 39, states that no man is so rich that he refuses a gift, or so liberal with his wealth that he does not seek to be repaid, this stanza goes directly to how one's wealth should be used.

Looking at lines 1 and 2, we see some pretty strong differences of meaning between Auden & Taylor's translations, and all of the others.  Auden & Taylor interpret lines 1 and 2 as meaning that once a man has earned enough wealth, he should not crave for more.  This suggests that there is a reasonable limit to wealth, and that wanting more than that is wrong.  This is the only translation that goes in that direction, giving us good reason to question Auden & Taylor's interpretation of the meaning of these lines.

Every other translation interprets lines 1 and 2

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