Kozma Prutkov

Kozma Prutkov

One cannot imagine the Russian language without the numerous semantic links induced by the literary heritage of this wonderful person, who had never existed in flesh and blood. Unfortunately, very few English speakers know about this brilliant character - and this page is to give a scent of true Russian spirit to the audience throughout the world. Of course, I could not make it any comprehensive - and my literary gift is not enough to translate the ubiquitous play on words in Kozma Prutkov's poetry, theater plays, memoirs and other writings. Maybe somebody more talented than I will take that challenge. Meanwhile, just a few glimpses of wit and humor.


Fruits of Reflection (1853-1854)

3

Nobody will embrace the unembraceable.

4

There is no great thing that would not be surmounted by a still greater thing. There is no thing so small that no smaller thing could fit into it.

5

Look in the root!

6

Better say little, but well.

8

What other people can say about you if you can't say anything about yourself?

10

People's memory is like a piece of white paper: sometimes it writes well, and sometimes bad.

15

Passionately loving one lady, he tolerates another only of convenience.

19

Hiding truth from the friends, whom will you trust?

20

What is the best? - Having compared the past, link it to the present.

21

It's more useful to make way through one's life, rather than the Universe.

22

If you have a fountain, shut it up. Let even a fountain have a rest.

25

An egoist is like someone sitting in a well since long ago.

26

Genius is like a hill rising amidst a plain.

27

Wise words are like the lines printed in italics.

29

If shadows of objects depended not on the sizes of such but had their own random height, then perhaps, soon there would not be a sunny spot left on Earth.

33

The first step of a baby is the first step to his death.

34

The reason death is put at the end of life is so we could prepare for it more comfortably.

36

Never run to the extreme: who wants to dine too late today takes chances to instead breakfast tomorrow, early in the morning.

40

Explanatory sentences clarify obscure thoughts.

42

Watch out!

44

Nobody will embrace the unembraceable.

45

There are three things that once begun are difficult to finish: a) eating delicious food; b) talking to a friend who had just returned from a long journey; and c) scratching where it itches.

48

Everybody says that health is more valuable than any other thing, but nobody keeps to it.

51

If ever asked: What's more useful, the sun or the moon, respond: The new moon. For the sun only shines during daytime, when it's light anuway, whereas the Moon shines at night.

52

But, on the other hand, the Sun is better in that it shines and also warms, whereas the Moon only shines; and that only on moonlit evenings!

55

Only reason on what your notions allow you to discuss. Thus, knowing nothing about the laws of the Iroquois language, can you pass a judgement on it that would not be ill-founded and stupid?

56

Starting something, pluck up your spirits.

60

Even turpentine is useful for something!

64

There is a sore feeling in the deep of every heart.

66

Many things are incomprehensible to us not because our comprehension is weak, but because those things are not within the frames of our comprehension.

70

Do not cut everything that grows.

74

Having lied once, who will believe you?

76

To keep laughing is easier than to stop the laughter.

77

Looking into the distance, you will see the distance; looking to the sky, you will see the sky; looking in a small mirror, you will only see yourself.

78

Where is the beginning of the end that comes at the end of the beginning?

79

The sooner you pass, the sooner you'll arrive.

80

If you want to be happy, be!

81

Do not seek for unity in the whole, but rather in the uniformity of distinction.

84

Zeal overcomes everything!

85

What don't care for what we have, we deplore what we have lost.

86

Even an oyster has enimies!

88

In the deep of every heart, there is its own snake.

91

Do not joke with women - such jokes are silly and indecent.

94

Do not pull the pants on somebody else's legs.

96

People correspond with all the world, and, via the press, with their distant descendants.

99

A sensitive man is like an ice-pick: be warm to him and he melts.

101

A specialist is like a gumboil: his plenitude is unilateral.

106

If upon a cage of an elephant you will see a sign reading: "buffalo", do not believe your eyes.

108

Every thing is a manifestation of infinite diversity.

110

Looking at this world, one cannot help wondering!

113

I will always compare the sky decorated with stars to the chest of a distinguished general.

112

A philosopher would easily triumph over the future and past sorrows, but he is just as easily defeated by the present ones.

115

Shoe polish blackens for good - an evil person blackens for pleasure.

117

Of all the fruits, the best ones come from good education.

131

Don't walk on the slope, to not wear down your boots on one side.

133

Who prevents you from inventing waterproof gun-powder?

138

Every person's head is like a stomach: some digest the food, and some only get constipated.

139

Things can be great or minor not only by fate's will, or contingency, but also by every person's notions.

141

When looking at the sun, squint your eyes - and you'll readily discern the spots upon it.

146

If all the past were present, and the present existed along with the future, who would be able to distinguish, where are the causes and where are the consequences?

151

Everybody believes that what they want is the best.

153

Never fail to observe that it is much easier to leave many people dissatisfied than please them.

156

Throwing pebbles into the water, look at the ripples they form on the surface, otherwise, such occupation becomes an idle pastime.

160

And once again: nobody will embrace the unembraceable!


More Fruits of Reflection

1

Virtue is an award for itself. A man excels the virtue, if he serves never receiving an award.

2

The harm or benefit of an act depend on the combination of circumstances.

3

Without colors, all the people would be dressed in monotone.

7

The death and the sun cannot stare at each other.

14

Live and learn! - and eventually you will become able to say, following the wise, that you do not know anything.

15

Gold lovers! How miserable must be all of your gains if they, taken together, aren't even worth a single leaf from the laurel wreath of a poet!

16

Taken aback by the fate, still don't despair.

17

It has been well established that the earth which strikesus with its diversity and magnitude would merely look as a smooth and meager ball to some observer from the sun.

27

Sometimes, zeal overcomes even the common sense.

31

One cannot hatch the same egg twice.

32

A champagne cork that pops up with so much noise and falls down just as instantly - that is a fair picture of love.

36

The lowliest of beggars is capable of being the foremost rich man, under different circumstances.

41

Sometimes, words typed in italics are much more unjust than those typed in regular print.

44

Drive love away through the door - it will fly in through the window.

45

Every tailor has his own views on art!

48

Work like an ant, to be assimilated with a bee.

50

Wisdom is like turtle soup in that not everybody can get it.

51

Know, my reader, that wisdom reduces complaints but not the suffering.

54

Considering a possible undertaking, think about whether you'll really succeed in it.

55

The quotient of one's happiness is in an inverse relation to one's merits.

56

People could not stop living together, even if they walked far away from each other.

57

It's easier to hold a horse by the reins than to hold the reins of government.

65

Love people, but do not let them fool you.

66

Don't despair in sorrows; dejection itself attracts griefs.

68

Not any tickling is pleasant.

73

Buy a painting first, and then frame it.

76

Piety and superstition are two different things.

85

For many, the moments of meeting and separation are the greatest moments in their life.

91

Is there anybody in the world who could embrace the unembraceable?

92

Trace everything back to the beginning and you will understand a lot.

93

New boots always pinch.

97

When the nations brawl, this is called war.

99

Man's head was put on the top of the body, so that he would not walk head over heels.

102

In a close air, you'll never recover your breath, however you try.


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