My favorite Grooks by Piet Hein

All text and illustrations are owned by Piet Hein's estate.


There is
one art,
no more,
no less:
to do
all things
with art-

PROBLEMS Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back. THE ROAD TO WISDOM The road to wisdom? -- Well, it's plain and simple to express: Err and err and err again but less and less and less. THE ETERNAL TWINS Taking fun as simply fun and earnestness in earnest shows how thoroughly thou none of the two discernest.
AN ODE TO MODESTY Talking of successful rackets modesty deserves a mention. Exclamation marks in brackets never fail to draw attention. OMNISCIENCE Knowing what thou knowest not is in a sense omniscience. NAIVE -- Naive you are if you believe life favours those who aren't naive. ON PROBLEMS Our choicest plans have fallen through, our airiest castles tumbled over, because of lines we neatly drew and later neatly stumbled over. 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.
A MAXIM FOR VIKINGS Here is a fact that should help you fight a bit longer: Things that don't act- ually kill you outright make you stronger.
I'D LIKE -- I'd like to know what this whole show is about before it's out. MISSING LINK Man's a kind of Missing Link, fondly thinking he can think. 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. GROOK ON LONG-WINDED AUTHORS Long-winded writers I abhor, and glib, prolific chatters; give me the ones who tear and gnaw their hair and pens to tatters: who find their writing such a chore they only write what matters. A MOMENT'S THOUGHT As eternity is reckoned there's a lifetime in a second. BRAVE To be brave is to behave bravely when your heart is faint. So you can be really brave only when you really ain't. THAT IS THE QUESTION Hamlet Anno Domini. Co-existence or no existence.
LIVING IS -- Living is a thing you do now or never -- which do you?
MEMENTO VIVERE Love while you've got love to give. Live while you've got life to live.
ABREAST He who aims to keep abreast is for ever second best.
WHAT PEOPLE MAY THINK 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. 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. 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 -- 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. LAST THINGS FIRST 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.
ON BEING ONESELF Good resolution grook If virtue can't be mine alone at least my faults can be my own. THE CASE FOR OBSCURITY On Thoughts and Words I. If no thought your mind does visit, make your speech not too explicit. VITA BREVIS A lifetime is more than sufficiently long for people to get what there is of it wrong. ORIGINALITY 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. NOTHING IS INDESPENSABLE Grook to warn the universe against megalomania The universe may be as great as they say. But it wouldn't be missed if it didn't exist. INVESTMENT POLICY Anxieties yield at a negative rate, increasing in smallness the longer they wait. SMALL THINGS AND GREAT He that lets the small things bind him leaves the great undone behind him. 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. WIDE ROAD To make a name for learning when other roads are barred, take something very easy and make it very hard.