Chapter 72: Judging the Audience
Two elders have gathered under a shade-giving tree to speak to a learned gathering. One inattentive young visitor raises his hand to ask them to repeat themselves, and they decline.
You can access the entire text, in Tamil and English here:
Pure men of studied eloquence should study
an audience before speaking deliberate words.
Let good men who know the orator’s art knowingly await
the right moment to articulate their good knowledge.
Failing to assess an audience before venturing to speak
is to be unaware of the way of words and remain ineffective.
Be brilliant before brilliant men; but assume
the dullness of pale mortar before dullards.
Of all good things, the best is the polite reserve
that refrains from speaking first when with elders and superiors.
To blunder before perceptive, erudite men
is like slipping and falling from a very high place.
A learned man’s learning shines the brightest
among luminaries capable of critiquing his language.
Speaking to an audience of thinking men
is like watering a bed of growing plants.
Those who speak good things to good and learned gatherings
should never repeat them to ignorant groups, even forgetfully.
Expounding to a throng of unfit men
is like pouring sweet nectar into an open gutter.
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