Wisdom Is Wasted on the Wise

The wise never foolishly thinks he is wise,
But wisely regards himself foolish;
He’s not like the fool who—in his own eyes—
Thinks he is wise, but is foolish.

So the wise man acts wisely…but what does he gain
If he nonetheless thinks he’s a fool?
The fool behaves foolishly, making it plain
That though thinking he’s wise, he’s a fool.

Now, maybe the wise man would be wiser still
To truly in fact be a fool,
And forget all his wisdom and all of his skill.
But then…is he wise, or a fool?

And see, if the wise man should alter the rule—
Like a fool, now think himself wise—
The foolish man might see that he is the fool…
And thus, in the end, be the wise.

So the wise man’s no wiser, if wise or a fool:
Forgetting he ever was wise,
Or else, being wise, and then playing the fool…
He’s foolish, whichever he tries. 

                                         —Fool Noneofus