Piet Hein Quotes

Most popular Piet Hein Quotes

A bit
of virtue
will never
hurt you.
β€” Piet Hein

virtue

Love is like
a pineapple,
sweet and
undefinable.
β€” Piet Hein

love

HIGHBROW HUMOUR

Half
the laugh.
Twice
the price.
β€” Piet Hein
He who aims
to keep abreast
is forever
second best.
β€” Piet Hein

business leadership management

Living is
a thing you do
now or never --
which do you?
β€” Piet Hein

present moment profound

Wisdom is
the booby prize
given when you've been
unwise.
β€” Piet Hein

wisdom

Pills are useful
against ills
and against
too many pills.
β€” Piet Hein
Shun advice
at any price -
that's what I call
good advice.
β€” Piet Hein
Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.
β€” Piet Hein (Grooks)

interesting problems

You draw
the near things
nearer
by making
clear things
queerer.
β€” Piet Hein
I'd like to know
what this whole show
is about
before it's out.
β€” Piet Hein

interesting purpose of life

If virtue
can't be mine alone
at least my faults
can be my own.
β€” Piet Hein

be yourself shortcomings

GOSPEL TRUTH

People
take for gospel
things that are
impossible.
β€” Piet Hein

beliefs

When your thirst
and hunger cease,
may your ashes
rest in peace.
β€” Piet Hein
OMNISCIENCE

Knowing what
thou knowest not
is in a sense
omniscience.
β€” Piet Hein

interesting knowledge

There is
one art,
no more,
no less:
to do
all things
with artlessness.
β€” Piet Hein

art

TWO WORDS

Two words express
My love galore:
Nevertheless,
Always More.
β€” Piet Hein
Life makes senses
and who could doubt it,
if we have
no doubt about it.
β€” Piet Hein

life positive

Love while you've got
love to give.
Live while you've got
life to live.
β€” Piet Hein

how to live life

THOSE WHO KNOW

Those who always
know what's best
are
a universal pest.
β€” Piet Hein

know-it-alls

NAIVE-

Naive you are
if you believe
life favours those
who aren't naive.
β€” Piet Hein
MISSING LINK

Man's a kind
of Missing Link,
fondly thinking
he can think.
β€” Piet Hein

critical thinking funny

He that lets
the small things bind him
leaves the great
undone behind him.
β€” Piet Hein
A MOMENT'S THOUGHT

As eternity
is reckoned
there's a lifetime
in a second.
β€” Piet Hein

time

Does time exist?
I gravely doubt it.
But gosh, what should we do
without it?
β€” Piet Hein

time

No cow's like a horse,
and no horse like a cow.
That's one similarity
anyhow.
β€” Piet Hein
Anxieties yield
at a negative rate,
increasing in smallness
the longer they wait.
β€” Piet Hein

worry

MASQUERADE

It's always wise
to wear disguise;
but hardly ever
to look too clever.
β€” Piet Hein
How instructive
is a star!
It can teach us
from afar
just how small
each other are.
β€” Piet Hein

wise

The way to grow grand
is not: to demand
In life's every field
you are what you yield.
β€” Piet Hein

greatness

HIDE NOTHING

If your thoughts
are rubbish merely,
don't express yourself
too clearly.
β€” Piet Hein

holding your tongue

A lifetime
is more
than
sufficiently long
for people to get what there is of it
wrong.
β€” Piet Hein
If you want to know
where your money went,
you must spend it quickly
before it's spent.
β€” Piet Hein

interesting money

GHOSTLY

Ghosts are mist
and moonshine mostly.
That's the twist
that makes them ghostly.
β€” Piet Hein
The universe may 
be as great as they say.
But it wouldn't be missed 
if it didn't exist.
β€” Piet Hein

universe

PITIABLE

It's not very pretty
in pitiful fashion
to angle for pity:
it merits compassion.
β€” Piet Hein
EXPERTS

Experts have
their expert fun
ex cathedra
telling one
just how nothing
can be done.
β€” Piet Hein

experts

SPEED IT UP

To start in a hurry
and finish in haste
will minimize worry
and maximize waste.
β€” Piet Hein
If they made diving boards
six inches shorter -
think how much sooner
you'd be in the water.
β€” Piet Hein

food for thought

You'll conquer the present
suspiciously fast
if you smell of the future --
and stink of the past.
β€” Piet Hein

future

If a nasty jagged stone
gets into your shoe,
thank the Lord it came alone --
what if it were two?
β€” Piet Hein

funny positive problems

What with one thing
and another
people bother.
With a third thing
and a fourth it
isn't worth it.
β€” Piet Hein
Foes
of what's cooking
see no worth behind it.
Those
that are looking
for nothing - will find it.
β€” Piet Hein
MANNERS

Honestly,
some people's manners
repel you.
Ask how they are
and, god dammit,
they tell you.
β€” Piet Hein

small talk

Nature, our father and mother,
gave us all we have got.
The state, our elder brother,
swipes the lot.
β€” Piet Hein

government taxes

MONEY

Sure, money's all wrong,
and the Devil decreed it!
It doesn't belong
to the people who need it.
β€” Piet Hein

funny money

There's an art of knowing when.
Never try to guess.
Toast until it smokes and then
twenty seconds less.
β€” Piet Hein

funny

To make a name for learning
when other roads are barred,
take something very easy
and make it very hard.
β€” Piet Hein

academics experts

We shall have to evolve
problem-solvers galore--
since each problem they solve
creates ten problems more.
β€” Piet Hein
People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I'm explaining me.
β€” Piet Hein

self-centered

Small people often overrate
the charm of being tall;
which is, that you appreciate
the charm of being small.
β€” Piet Hein
DREAM INTERPRETATION

Everything's either
concave or -vex,
so whatever you dream
will be something with sex.
β€” Piet Hein
She gave me hope
she gave me love,
with bounty unalloyed.
But what she had of faith,
alas,
she gave to Freud.
β€” Piet Hein
THE TRUE DEFENCE

The only defence
that is more than pretence
is to act on the fact
that there is no defence.
β€” Piet Hein
ANGEL FOOD

Though men are no angels,
they're better by far
so long as they think
that you think
that they are.
β€” Piet Hein

expectation

To be brave is to behave
bravely when your heart is faint.
So you can be really brave
only when you really ain't.
β€” Piet Hein

bravery

MANKIND

Men, said the Devil,
are good to their brothers:
they don't want to mend
their own ways, but each other's.
β€” Piet Hein
FAME

Fame achieved
by mere achievement
scarce deserves the name.
Proper fame
is being famous
simply for your fame.
β€” Piet Hein

fame

The road to wisdom? -- Well, it's plain
and simple to express:
Err
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.
β€” Piet Hein

mistakes wisdom

Your steadfast character appeals
to frequent toasts, methinks:
you never eat except at meals
-nor drink 'twixt drinks.
β€” Piet Hein
Stomach-ache can be a curse;
heart-ache may be even worse;
so thank Heaven on your knees
if you've got but one of these.
β€” Piet Hein

heartbreak positive

A bit beyond perception's reach
I sometimes believe I see
that life is two locked boxes
each containing the other's key.
β€” Piet Hein (Grooks)

interesting life

MY FAITH IN DOCTORS

My faith in doctors
is immense.
Just one thing spoils it;
their pretence
of authorised
omniscience.
β€” Piet Hein

doctors

Here lies, extinguished in his prime,
a victim of modernity:
but yesterday he hadn't the time --
and now he has eternity.
β€” Piet Hein

modern life

A ETERNAL TWINS

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thoroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
β€” Piet Hein
It's some sort of comfort
to get the gist
of certain impertinence
I could list -
so that you know what you
haven't missed.
β€” Piet Hein
A TIP

A tip to members of the literary profession
Those who can write
have a lot to learn
from those bright enough
not to.
β€” Piet Hein

funny writing

THE CASE FOR OBSCURITY

On Thoughts and Words I.
If no thought
your mind does visit,
make your speech
not too explicit.
β€” Piet Hein

holding your tongue

FORETASTE WITH AFTERTASTE

Corinna's scanty evening dress
reveals her charms to an excess
which makes a fellow lust for less.
β€” Piet Hein
He's gallantry personified;
in fact
his brochures ought to read:
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED -
or your virginity returned
intact.
β€” Piet Hein
DELUX

We fondly believe in the fable
that luxmeters cannot lie;
forgetting: one lux on the table
is better than ten in the eye.
β€” Piet Hein
LEST FOOLS SHOULD FAIL

True wisdom knows
it must comprise
some nonsense
as a compromise,
lest fools should fail
to find it wise.
β€” Piet Hein

wisdom

We ought to live
each day as though
it were our last day
here below.
But if I did, alas,
I know
it would have killed me
long ago.
β€” Piet Hein

funny how to live life

THE GIFT

A gift of great
utility
is common
copability:
The knack of getting
each thing done
before the grind
has spoiled the fun.
β€” Piet Hein
WE DO OUR BEST

Or do we?
Modern man
has the skill;
he can do
what he will.
But alas -
being man
he will do
what he can.
β€” Piet Hein

doing your best

BEARDS

The reason why some people grow
aggressive tufts of facial hair
is that they do not like to show
the chin that isn't there.
β€” Piet Hein
CIRCUMSCRIPTION

As Pastor X steps out of bed
he slips a neat disguise on:
that halo round his priestly head
is really his horizon.
β€” Piet Hein

religion

SCOTCHED

Some persistent person-watcher
may eventually distinguish
why a Scotsman's so much Scotcher
than an Englishman is English.
β€” Piet Hein

England

COMMON GROUND

There's matter for reflection
in one's fellow-men's inanity:
it strengthens one's conviction
of belonging to humanity.
β€” Piet Hein

brotherhood of man

If you knew
what you will know
when your candle
has burnt low,
it would greatly
ease your plight
while your candle
still burns bright.
β€” Piet Hein

future wisdom

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD

Yes, he was tempted,
and he fell;
but judge him not
too hard.
It does take character
to sell
elastic
by the yard.
β€” Piet Hein
O TOAST!

O Toast! What an exquisite yearning
thy sounds and thy odors convey!
O fragrant aroma of burning!
O rhythmical scraping away!
β€” Piet Hein
OUT OF TIME

My old clock used to tell the time
and subdivide diurnity;
but now it's lost both hands and chime
and only tells eternity.
β€” Piet Hein
AN ODE TO MODESTY

Talking of successful rackets
modesty deserves a mention.
Exclamation marks in brackets
never fail to draw attention.
β€” Piet Hein

funny modesty

STRIKING A BALANCE

Mere good intentions go for naught.
The balance we must strike
consists of liking what we ought
and doing what we like.
β€” Piet Hein
A TOAST

The soul may be a mere pretence,
the mind makes very little sense.
So let us value the appeal
of that which we can taste and feel.
β€” Piet Hein
ECONOMY OF MIND

Thinking gives a lot of pain.
Talking doesn't cost a thing.
Therefore, rest your weary brain
and give your tongue a fling.
β€” Piet Hein

talking thinking

LOSING FACE

The noble art of losing face
may one day save the human race
and turn into eternal merit
what weaker minds would call disgrace.
β€” Piet Hein
A MAXIM FOR VIKINGS

Here is a fact
that should help you fight a bit longer:
Things that don't actually kill you outright
make you stronger.
β€” Piet Hein

adversity motivational positive

THE VITAL PERCEPT

One vital precept isn't taught
sufficiently imperiously:
that other people didn't ought
to take themselves too seriously.
β€” Piet Hein

egotism

ABOUT DENMARK

Why not let us compromise
about Denmark's proper size,
which will truly please us all,
since it's bigger than it's small.
β€” Piet Hein
THE ULTIMATE WISDOM

Philosophers
must ultimately find
their true perfection
in knowing all
the follies of mankind
-- by introspection.
β€” Piet Hein

introspection philosophy

THE SAME, DIFFERENT

There's a neighbor's telephone
with the same distinctive tone
as it pleases mine to make...
...which I find I cannot take.
β€” Piet Hein
ON FALLING-FEET FOREMOST

Some darling people you will meet
are plain disaster-prone,
and always fall on someone's feet,
and never on their own.
β€” Piet Hein
NOVEMBER HEDGEROW

The pale November sunshine shines,
and spiders diligently ply
arranging endless washing lines
for dewdrops hanging out to dry.
β€” Piet Hein
SOCIAL MECHANISM

When people always
try to take
the very smallest
piece of cake
how can it also
always be
that that's the one
that's left for me?
β€” Piet Hein
MAKING THE BEST OF IT

Don't despair of passing muster
when your virtues don't suffice.
You'll achieve an equal lustre
with the obverse of a vice.
β€” Piet Hein
LIKE AND UNLIKE

A baby's and a peacock's strike
might make you think them much alike.
But where comparisons will fail
is in the color of the tail.
β€” Piet Hein
A PAINFUL NEWS ITEM

Lord Y. was dying; but then he
refused to give up the ghost.
The first will be painful to many.
The second will pain the most.
β€” Piet Hein
You're squandering
spleen on your brothers,
and wasting
good self-pity too,
if you think
that there's sun on the others
whenever it's raining on you.
β€” Piet Hein

adversity envy

It ought to be plain
how little you gain
by getting excited
and vexed.
You'll always be late
for the previous train,
and always in time
for the next.
β€” Piet Hein

funny wise worry

Professor Blobby doesn't see the fun
in what his fellow-man call relaxation.
He isn't ignorant of how it's done,
but lacks the necessary application.
β€” Piet Hein

academics

ON PROBLEMS

Our choicest plans
have fallen through,
our airiest castles
tumbled over,
because of lines
we neatly drew
and later neatly
stumbled over.
β€” Piet Hein

problems

FRIENDS IN NEED

Why so sad and woebegone?
Will the world not heed you?
Courage! Even you have won
friends you may rely upon
when they really need you.
β€” Piet Hein

friendship

Solutions to problems
are easy to find:
the problem's a great
contribution.
What's truly an art
is to wring from your mind
a problem to fit
a solution.
β€” Piet Hein

solutions

GROOK TO STIMULATE GRATITUDE

As things so
very often are
intelligence
won't get you far.
So be glad
you've got more sense
than you've got
intelligence.
β€” Piet Hein

common sense intelligence

A fellow I know
can get mountains to move
and all opposition
appeases:
he preaches what God
cannot help but approve,
and does
what the Devil he pleases.
β€” Piet Hein
A RAIN DROP

With what adroitness
Nature gleans
sublime effects
with modest means!
A rain-drop streaks
my window pane;
then it is spring-time
once again.
β€” Piet Hein

nature

A philosophistry

I am the Universe's Centre.
No subtle sceptics can confound me;
for how can other viewpoints enter,
when all the rest is all around me?
β€” Piet Hein
DO IT NOW!

Why don't you stop
pursuing things,
and rushing round
and doing things?
Just think of all
the things that you
would suddenly
find time to do!
β€” Piet Hein

action

THE MIRACLE OF SPRINGS

We glibly talk
of nature's laws
but do things have
a natural cause?
Black earth turned into
yellow crocus
in undiluted
hocus-pocus.
β€” Piet Hein

springtime

I concentrate on
the concentric rings
produced by my pen
in the ink.
The thing that distinguishes
thoughts from things
is that thoughts are harder
to think.
β€” Piet Hein

thinking

WANTING TO BE ABLE TO

'Impossibilities' are good
not to attach that label to;
since, correctly understood,
if we wanted to, we would
be able to be able to.
β€” Piet Hein

impossible

TO SUM UP

It may be observed
in a general way
that life would be
better, distinctly,
if more of the people
with nothing to say
were able to say it
succinctly.
β€” Piet Hein

brevity

THE DOUBLE-DOOR EFFECT

Double doors are justified
because they're comfortably wide.
Therefore you only half undo'em;
and therefore nothing can get through 'em.
β€” Piet Hein
GLOBAL EGO 

Your understanding may be rough
and your pretensions vanity;
but underneath there's firmer stuff:
your egoism is vast enough
to comprehend humanity.
β€” Piet Hein

ego

I see
and I hear
and I speak no evil;
I carry
no malice
within my breast;
yet quite without
wishing
a man to the Devil
one may be
permitted
to hope for the best.
β€” Piet Hein

enemies

We are taught to live,
we are
taught to feel.
We are taught to conform and conceal.
We are taught so well
what we
ought to feel
that we cannot feel what we feel.
β€” Piet Hein

feelings

WHO IS LEARNED?
A definition

One who, consuming midnight oil
in studies diligent and slow,
teaches himself, with painful toil,
the things that other people know.
β€” Piet Hein

academics

TRANSMUTATION

I may be stupid;
but I don't see how
the time that's here
contrives to get away.
How can what only yesterday
was now
be now already
only yesterday?
β€” Piet Hein

time

Power corrupts, where
as sound opposition
builds up our free
democratic tradition.
One thing would make a
democracy flower:
having a strong opposition --
in power.
β€” Piet Hein

democracy

One paramount truth
our society smothers
in petty concern
with position and pelf:
It isn't enough
to exasperate others;
you've got to remember
to gladden yourself.
β€” Piet Hein

wise

MAKING AN EFFORT

Our so-called limitations, believe,
apply to faculties we don't apply.
We don't discover what we can't achieve
until we make an effort not to try.
β€” Piet Hein

effort

CONSOLATION GROOK

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.
β€” Piet Hein

funny loss

Whenever I'm scared by the state of my purse
I dine at the 'Gold-Digger's Claim',
where the food is so out of comparison worse
you forget that the price is the same.
β€” Piet Hein
Some people cower
and wince and shrink,
owing to fear of
what people may think.
There is one answer
to worries like these:
people may think
what the devil they please.
β€” Piet Hein

what others think

HINT AND SUGGESTION

Admonitory grook addressed to youth.

The human spirit sublimates
the impulses it thwarts;
a healthy sex life mitigates
the lust for other sports.
β€” Piet Hein
Put up in a place
where it's easy to see
the cryptic admonishment
T. T. T.
When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it's well to remember that
Things Take Time.
β€” Piet Hein

patience

Three facts, quite easy,
should be known to all
would-be arrivers
who set out on wheels:
that roads are greasy,
safety margins small,
and fellow drivers
fellow imbeciles.
β€” Piet Hein
FREE CHOICE

People are meant
to hold various views;
which has been construed
to mean
that Rulers should give them
the freedom to choose,
and one thing
to choose between.
β€” Piet Hein
THE OPTIMIST'S OBELISK

I go past a stone
by the road twice a day
in my regular
toing and froing.
The sight of it tells me
I'm over halfway β€”
whether I'm
coming or going.
β€” Piet Hein
Original thought
is a straightforward process.
It's easy enough
when you know what to do.
You simply combine
in appropriate doses
the blatantly false
and the patently true.
β€” Piet Hein

creativity

COMPARATIVE SENSE

Which of us doesn't
accept as a rule
that anyone dumber than us
is a fool?
But how many of us
can wholly subdue
the feeling
that manyone smarter is, too?
β€” Piet Hein

intelligence

The heavens are draining,
it's raining and raining,
and everything couldn't be wetter,
and things are so bad
that we ought to be glad:
because now they can only get better.
β€” Piet Hein

hopeful

Nobody can be lucky all the time;
so when your luck deserts you in some fashion
don't think you've been abandoned in your prime,
but rather that you're saving up your ration.
β€” Piet Hein

luck

ATOMYRIADES

Nature, it seems, is the popular name
for milliards and milliards and milliards
of particles playing their infinite game
of billiards and billiards and billiards.
β€” Piet Hein

atoms

MEETING THE EYE

You'll probably find
that it suits your book
to be a bit cleverer
than you look.
Observe that the easiest
method by far
is to look a bit stupider
than you are.
β€” Piet Hein

funny intelligence

ON RATIONALIZATION

Many are the problems
for which we find a cure,
and many are the snags
that arise.
Rationalization
is rational for sure;
but is it also sure
that it's wise?
β€” Piet Hein
Two types that had far better
leave to their betters
the civilized art
of exchanging letters
are those who disdain
to make any response,
and those who infallibly
answer at once.
β€” Piet Hein

letters

DEFENCE WANTED

In International
Consequences
the players must reckon
to reap what they've sown.
We have a defence
against other defences,
but what's to defend us
against our own?
β€” Piet Hein
A THOUGHT ABROAD

It's all very well
to play up the allure
of whatever it is
you are selling;
but it's over the odds
when a sight-seeing tour
turns out to be mainly
smell-smelling.
β€” Piet Hein

Travel

There was an old woman
who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children.
She didn't know what to do.
But try as she would
she could never detect
which was the cause
and which the effect.
β€” Piet Hein
CONVERSATION PEACE

There is a certain
labor-saving notion,
dear to a lazy-minded
generation,
that if you can but
keep your mouth in motion,
then every breath you take
is conversation.
β€” Piet Hein

conversation funny

PAST PLUPERFECT

The past, -- well, it's just like
our Great-Aunt Laura,
who cannot or will not perceive
that though she is welcome,
and though we adore her,
yet now it is time to leave.
β€” Piet Hein

the past

A REPROOF

In view of your manner
of spending your days
I hope you may learn,
before ending them,
that the effort you spend
on defending your ways
could be better spent
on amending them.
β€” Piet Hein
Long-winded writers I abhor,
and glib, prolific chatters;
give me the ones who tear and gaw
their hair and pens to tatters:
who find heir writing such a chore
they only write what matters.
β€” Piet Hein

writing

A GROOK FOR CHRISTMAS

In pagan ages,
Yuletide was a feast
not of the spirit,
but of meat and drink.
Think about that this Christmas;
or at least
as soon thereafter
as you're fit to think.
β€” Piet Hein

Christmas

GETTING DOWN TO FUNDAMENTALS

It will steadily shrink,
our earthly abode,
until antiode stands
upon antipode.
Then, soles together,
the planet gone,
we'll know the ground
that we rest upon.
β€” Piet Hein
COME, TIME...

Now the November woods are clear and cold
and fragile snowflakes tremble in the air.
If the year's waning be like growing old,
come, Time, and sprinkle snowflakes in my hair.
β€” Piet Hein
A WORD TO THE WISE

Let the world pass in its time-ridden race;
never get caught in its snare.
Remember, the only acceptable case
for being in any particular place
is having no business there.
β€” Piet Hein
THE CURE FOR EXHAUSTION

Sometimes, exhausted
with toil and endeavour,
I wish I could sleep
for ever and ever;
but then this reflection
my longing allays:
I shall be doing it
one of these days.
β€” Piet Hein
PRAYER

Sun that givest all things birth,
shine on everything on earth!
If that's too much to demand,
shine at least on this our land.
If even that's too much for thee,
shine at any rate on me.
β€” Piet Hein

funny prayers

A contribution to the psychology of disappointment

Some people live
in a dream of what'll
allow them to
live their dream:
they solemnly hold out
a half-pint bottle
and ask for
a pint of cream.
β€” Piet Hein
A relativistic grook on co-existence

A human being sharing with a mouse.
Each thinks himself the master of the house.
In fact, of course, each occupier's place is
the other's insulating interspaces.
β€” Piet Hein
UNPLUMBED DEPTHS
Grook on philo-sophistical and other -isms

Philo-sophisticism
with hypnotic
effect affects
the boobies that abound:
being so bottomlessly
idiotic
that even they
can see it profound.
β€” Piet Hein
Eradicate the optimist
who takes the easy view
that human values will persist
no matter what we do.
Annihilate the pessimist
whose ineffectual cry
is that the goal's already missed
however hard we try.
β€” Piet Hein

optimism pessimism

Where the woods and ploughlands
of tradition and modernity
run into the never-ending
deserts of eternity,
there I have my daily task
while time smoothly passes,
spooning the eternal sands
into hourglass.
β€” Piet Hein

time

IMAGINATION AND FANCY

To imagine himself
is the poet's art;
for his theme must grow out of
his innermost heart.
But alas, there are poets enough
on my shelves
who think it sufficient
to fancy themselves.
β€” Piet Hein
LILAC TIME

The lilacs are flowering, sweet and sublime,
with a perfume that goes to the head;
and lovers meander in prose and rhyme,
trying to say β€” for the thousandth time --
what's easier done than said.
β€” Piet Hein

romance

IS IT ART?

As for art,
what can a halfway-honest man do
to distinguish things that are
from things that aren't?
For there's little art
in doing what one can do,
and there's none at all
in doing what one can't.
β€” Piet Hein
For many system shoppers it's
a good-for-nothing system
that classifies as opposites
stupidity and wisdom.
because by logic-choppers it's
accepted with avidity:
stupidity's true opposite's
the opposite stupidity.
β€” Piet Hein

stupidity wisdom

STEPWISE

Down from my attic room I swerve
in one smooth, spiral, clockwise curve.
The staircase happens to be wound,
I'm glad to say, the same way round:
for if it happened not to be,
it couldn't keep in step with me.
β€” Piet Hein
The Little Mermaid's Little Sister
was also partly girl and cod
though in a way which those who kissed her
found odd.
...but which, well worth to mention,
though at first sight absurd,
I, with my fond intention,
preferred.
β€” Piet Hein
There's a rule for proper
doses
in the dinner-eaters lore:
one should stop the filling process
while one still has room for more.
And if someone at the table
had reminded me before -
Hallelujah! I'd be able
to absorb a little more.
β€” Piet Hein

food

To many people artists seem
undisciplined and
lawless.
Such laziness, with such
great gifts,
seems little short of
crime.
One mystery is how they
make
the things they make so
flawless;
another, what they're
doing with
their energy and time.
β€” Piet Hein

artists

THINK BEFORE YOU THINK BEFORE YOU ACT

We're taught to think, and act
upon our second thought.
We might as well, in fact,
rely on second sight.
In view of how we're placed
the thing we should be taught
is how to act in hasteβ€”
and do it right.
β€” Piet Hein
Do you know that weary feeling
when your mind is strangely
strangled
and your head is like a ball of
wool
that's very, very tangled;
and the tempo of your thinking
must be lenient and mild,
as though you were explaining
to a very little child.
β€” Piet Hein
OUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT

We must expect posterity
to view with some asperity
the marvels and the wonders
we're passing on to it;
but it should change its attitude
to one of heartfelt gratitude
when thinking of the blunders
we didn't quite commit.
β€” Piet Hein
SIMPLY ASSISTING GOD

I am a humble artist
moulding my earthly clod,
adding my labour to nature's,
simply assisting God.
Not that my effort is needed;
yet somehow, I understand,
my maker has willed it that I too should have
unmoulded clay in my hand.
β€” Piet Hein
IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN

A poet should be of the
old-fashioned meaningless brand:
obscure, esoteric, symbolic, --
the critics demand it;
so if there's a poem of mine
that you do understand
I'll gladly explain what it means
till you don't understand it.
β€” Piet Hein

critics funny writing

BRIDGE OR TUNNEL?

Channel project.
A tunnel would be possible,
a bridge would also do,
but wouldn't it be better to
amalgamate the two?
Let bridge and tunnel undulate
in waves from shore to shore,
keeping green the memories
of those who went before.
β€” Piet Hein
CAN YOU IMAGINE IT?

We haven't much imagination:
it even overstrains our powers
to see our neighbour's tribulation
as any real concern of ours.
We have too much imagination:
enough to credit, without fuss,
that all is well with all creation
whenever things are well with us.
β€” Piet Hein

empathy

PRO BONO...

You sit at the dentist's, your mouth open wide,
and the dentist has moved half his workshop inside
to gild you and glaze you and tin you.
It is not, I admit, my idea of a lark;
but you must keep your skeleton up to the mark
as long as you've still got it in you.
β€” Piet Hein
REALLY

As people keep reminding you
the horrid things that people do
are superficial merely.
They're really not like that at all.
It's quite unjust of one and all
to judge them so severely.
It would be grand, it seems to me,
if people really were to be
as nice as they are really.
β€” Piet Hein
PRETENDERS

Yes, people pretend
to be hurt, or delighted,
or angry, or sorry,
or flattered, or slighted,
or artlessly simple,
or artfully deep,β€”
and all these pretences
are easy and cheap.
There's just one pretence
that is worth our endeavor:
and that is pretending to
nothing whatever.
β€” Piet Hein

pretense

A homage to finity
Eternity's one of those mental blocks the
concept is inconceivable.
The clock concedes it in ticks and tocks,
belittled, belaboured, believable.
Each passing moment is seized and chewed
with argument incontestable.
Premasticated, like baby food,
eternity is digestible.
β€” Piet Hein

interesting time

ROAD SENSE

God save us, now they're murdering
another winding road,
and another lovely countryside
will take another load
of pantechnicon and car and motorbike.
They're busy making bigger roads,
and better roads and more,
so that people can discover
even faster than before
that everything is everywhere alike.
β€” Piet Hein

technology

LEST-LOST-LAST-LISTLESSNESS DEPRESS YOU

When too many errands accrue
it's useful to make out a list.
You're certain to lose it, it's true;
but somewhere, the thing will exist.
And then, when some accident brings
the list you have lost into view,
at least you've a list of the things
you've meanwhile forgotten to do.
β€” Piet Hein
For me there is something
ineffably new
in every new moment's
arising;
and even the things I
habitually do
have qualities new and
surprising.
There's nothing that happens that happened before
in exactly that way in its life.
When you're playing the piano, it's rather a bore;
but it's nice when you're kissing your wife.
β€” Piet Hein
THE TYRANNY OF THINGS

I am trying to rule
over ten thousand things
which I thought belonged to me.
All of a sudden a doubt take wings:
Do they...or could it be..? 
A hardhanded hunch in my mind's ear rings
from whence such suspicions may stem:
that if you posses more than just eight things
then you are possessed by them.
β€” Piet Hein

materialism

Go on a starlit night,
stand on your head,
leave your feet dangling
outwards into space,
and let the starry
firmament you tread
be, for the moment,
your elected base.
Feel Earth's colossal weight
of ice and granite,
of molten magma,
water, iron, and lead;
and briefly hold
this strangely solid planet
balanced upon
your strangely solid head.
β€” Piet Hein

earth universe

A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No β€” not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.
β€” Piet Hein

decision-making

SPRING'S HARBINGER

The cold ploughed field seems empty
of any living thing;
but overhead there hangs a lark,
suspended on a string.
It's pouring out, its thrilling trills.
It tills the air with trilling thrills,
so palpable and plasticβ€”
absurdly bobbing up and down
because the string's elastic till,
duty done, and Spring harbinged,
it's whisked into the air,
and lowered in another place
to spring it on them there.
β€” Piet Hein
MAJORITY RULE

His party was the Brotherhood of Brothers,
and there were more of them than of the others.
That is, they constituted that minority
which formed the greater part of the majority.
Within the party, he was of the faction
that was supported by the greater fraction.
And in each group, within each group, he sought
the group that could command the most support.
The final group had finally elected
a triumvirate whom they all respected.
Now, of these three, two had final word,
because the two could overrule the third.
One of these two was relatively weak,
so one alone stood at the final peak.
He was: THE GREATER NUMBER of the pair
which formed the most part of the three that were
elected by the most of those whose boast
it was to represent the most of the most
of most of most of the entire state --
or of the most of it at any rate.
He never gave himself a moment's slumber
but sought the welfare of the greater number.
And all people, everywhere they went,
knew to their cost exactly what it meant
to be dictated to by the majority.
But that meant nothing, -- they were the minority.
β€” Piet Hein