Grooks by Piet Hein

The (late) Danish poet Piet Hein developed a very personal style of humerous poetry, which he called "Grooks". He wrote these both in Danish and English, with many of the best known ones available in both languages.

The very characteristic flavor of grooks is hard to describe, but is easy to recognize. Here is one:

"Wisdom is
the booby prize
given when you've been
unwise." Piet Hein

Bilingual Grooks

Piet Hein wrote grooks in both Danish and English, and there are a few matched pairs. I'm not sure they are translations, ...


Jeg har skrevet et sted,
hvor jeg daglig maa se,
det manende tankesprog:

Naar man foler hvor lidet
man nar med sin flid,
er det nyttigt at mindes, at
Ting Tar Tid

Put up in a place
where it's easy to see
The cryptic admonishment

When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it's well to remember that
   Things Take Time.

What are You?

The way to grow grand
  is not: to demand
In life's every field
  you are what you yield.
Hvad du faar
Hvad du gir

Life and Love

Husk at elske
  mens du tør' det

Husk at leve
  mens du gør det
Love while you've got
  love to give

Live while you've got
  life to live

On an earlier visit, you may have seen a larger collection of GROOKS. I have removed most of it, leaving just this sample, at the request of the Hein family, who would prefer you to buy the books for yourself. The only problem with this, is that the several volumes of GROOKS and FURTHER GROOKS published by Doubleday and Co are all out of print. The Danish publisher is Borgens Forlag. Their web page is currently not very helpful, but you could try to send them e-mail.

But maybe there is hope. It looks like - a new website celebrating Piet Hein - is on the way. Let us hope they will offer a way to buy Grooks online!

Footnote 2001-02-04: 2 years later, the web site is still "under construction". Sigh.