Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

On Problems -- Piet Hein

What collection of epigrams would be complete without at least one of Hein's
sparkling little grooks? Here's one of my favourites...
(Poem #668) On Problems
Our choicest plans
  have fallen through
our airiest castles
  tumbled over
because of lines
  we neatly drew
and later neatly
  stumbled over.
-- Piet Hein
If ever someone deserved the label of 'Renaissance Man', it was surely Piet
Hein[1], mathematician, scientist, inventor, engineer, artist, poet and
above all, genius. It would be hard to say what the most significant of
Hein's many accomplishments was, but high among them is surely the invention
and perfection of the grook.

[1] and all the actual Renaissance men, of course <g>

Hein has left behind a body of work consisting of around 10000 of these
grooks - an impressive achievement by any standard. But what exactly is a
grook? 'Grook' ('gruk' in Danish) is a word invented by Hein to describe his
short, aphoristic poems. There being no formal definition, the best I can do
is try to capture the unmistakable, but surprisingly elusive spirit
underlying Hein's poems.

Pithy, perceptive, varying from the gently quirky to the funny, and with a
deceptively simple style that hides their richly multifaceted nature while
robbing it of none of its impact - the average grook reads like something
between a nursery rhyme and a proverb, and like them, is absolutely
distinctive. Indeed, that is what most impresses me about Hein's grooks -
how, with very little in the way of formal structure, they manage to be so
strongly stamped with his very individual style.

As for today's poem - not only does it speak for itself; it does so far
better than I could hope to.


Here's an excellent biography:

Particularly nice to find was Hein's quote on his invention of the
superellipse - "Man is the animal that draws lines which he himself then
stumbles over." A rare insight into the genesis of a grook - compare this
quote with the polished verse form above.

Hein not only wrote and translated all his grooks, he illustrated them too.
Here's a sampling: [broken link]

Doing a google search on grooks brings up several pages full of them -
here're some of the biggest collections
- [broken link]

While Hein's grooks are out of print in English, and hence hard to find,
they do appear to be getting reprinted:
[broken link]

Amazingly enough, the Britannica does not have an entry for Hein; he is
mentioned in passing in their article on the Soma Cube.


53 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Lila said...

According to what I can see on the 'Net, it seems that Borgens Forlag in
Copenhagen, Denmark is now printing quantities of Grooks IN ENGLISH.

Are you sure that the illustrations provided in the familiar Grook books
were produced by Piet, and not by Jens Arup?

Jon Peltier said...

Nice short collection on Piet Hein. Unfortunately both links to collections of
his Grooks are not working.

- Jon Peltier

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

Ι prefer Ecο-friendly Smоke E-cіgs, ѕinсe thеу are quіte cоnvenіent to usе.
I don't have in order to refill the actual cartridge again and again. I don't have to help kеeр charging the battery.
These are make use of anԁ toss affordable healthful οptiοns foг
me perѕonallу. Ι am impressed by thе
range of flaνours they оffеr.
We have tried most οf them. Thе сigагette
taste is fairly rich and сreamу. I rеallу could at last
obtain control over my unhеalthy smoking habits
that were becoming a rіsk for me anԁ ρеοple aгounԁ mysеlf.

my wеb sіte ...

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that's both equаlly educative and amusing,
anԁ withοut a doubt, уοu have hit the nail on
the head. The problem is ѕomething that too few people аre ѕpeаking intеlligently abоut.

Now i'm very happy I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

Here is my web-site :: V2 Cig Review

Anonymous said...

Οh my goodneѕs! Aweѕоmе
аrticle dude! Тhanks, Hοwevеr Ι аm encounteгing difficulties wіth your RSЅ.
I don't understand the reason why I can't јoin іt.
Iѕ there anyboԁy elsе haѵing
the samе RSS problems? Anyone who κnows the solution cаn you
kindly rеspοnd? Thanks!!

my ωebsіte: visit the following post

Anonymous said...

Lovе, loνе ecο-fгienԁlу smοkе!
!!! Very beѕt eсigarettes on the mаrket.
One doωnside, and to mе it's serious, it time it takes to get my auto refill. I would pay the more money to get it sooner, but had been told it's not an оptiоn.
ӏ'm able to wait anywhere from 10 to22 times for my buy via DHL /USPS. Unsatisfactory to make clients on autorefill to hold back that long. We are you faithful customers!

Review my web page: Green Smoke E Cig

Anonymous said...

Definitely beliеve that which yοu saiԁ.
Youг favorite гeason sеemed to be on the ωeb the easiest thing tο be awаre of.
I say to уou, I ceгtainly get annoyed while people cοnsider wοrгiеs
that they plainly ԁon't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

Feel free to visit my web blog; life insurance company ratings consumer reports

Anonymous said...

I lovеԁ as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

my blog - laser hair removal cost

Anonymous said...

ӏ loѵed aѕ much as уou'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

My website -

Obat Pembesar Penis said...

ӏ loѵed aѕ much as уou'll receive carried out right here.

Jaring Lapangan Futsal said...

Unknown said...

Thanks for the sharing, this blog is very intersting. ELECTRONIC AND COMMUNICATION | Women Health Treatment | It's very informarmative and very knowladgeable blog.

Unknown said...

Nice info. Thank you.
all face the problem. finish with a calm heart and brain cara memperbesar penis are cold and are trying so hard ...

Unknown said...

Helpful once ya news,
thanks a lot ya pa bedroom design | interior design | KTM admin has given this good news.

MH Tofan said...

Nice Post, Thanks for your very useful information... I will bookmark for next reference

unsgu said...

all of which have been presented by this website was perfect, good appearance and artikelnya..penuh price and specifications mazda color and full of meaning ..

unsgu said...

terimakasih, website ini telah memberikan ilmu pengetahuan suv car ford yang sangat bermanfaat untuk saya dan yang lain latest technology toyota

Anonymous said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Unknown said...

Nice information,, terrimaksih infonya..sukses much for price kawasaki ninja sharing the info and the website is always to be the best and do the best modern home design to the free home design next information ..

Packers And Movers Bangalore said...

Packers And Movers Bangalore Local Household Shifting Service, Get Free Best Price Quotes Local Packers and Movers in Bangalore List, Compare Charges, Save Money And Time at
Local Packers And Movers Bangalore

Post a Comment