by Tiruvalluvar

English version by P. S. Sundaram
Original Language Tamil

To take the fleeting for the permanent
Is foolish and pitiable.

Great wealth, like a crowd at a concert,
Gathers and melts.

Wealth never stays; use it on the instant
On things that stay.

A day, so called, if rightly understood,
Is a sword hacking at life.

Do good in time, ere the tongue dies
With the last hiccup.

"He was here yesterday," gloats the earth over man,
"Today he is gone."

Men unsure of the next moment
Make more than a million plans.

Like a bird's to the shell it leaves
Is life's link to its body.

Death is but a sleep, and birth
An awakening.

Can life never have a house of its own
Cribbed ever in its cabin?

-- from The Kural (Penguin Classics), by Tiruvalluvar / Translated by P. S. Sundaram

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Recommended Books: Tiruvalluvar

The Kural (Penguin Classics) Weaver's wisdom: Ancient precepts for a perfect life: an American English translation of Saint Tiruvalluvar's ancient Tirukural