Except that it robs you of who you are,
What can you say about speech?
Inconceivable to live without
And impossible to live with,
Speech diminishes you.
Speak with a wise man, there’ll be
Much to learn; speak with a fool,
All you get is prattle.
Strike a half-empty pot, and it’ll make
A loud sound; strike one that is full,
Says Kabir, and hear the silence.

– Kabir
Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

I came across this on The New York Review of Books a few days ago and thought how much of the flavor and pithiness of the original is retained even in translation. I particularly love the line ‘Speech diminishes you.’
Kabir was a mystic poet, considered part of the Bhakti movement, which also included Meerabai, Tulsidas and Basava. More about Kabir here.

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