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A grook ("gruk" in Danish) is a form of short aphoristic poem or rhyming aphorism, created by the Danish poet, designer, inventor and scientist Piet Hein, who wrote over 7000 of them, mostly in Danish or English. They have been published in 20 volumes. Some say that the name is short for "GRin & sUK" ("laugh & sigh" in Danish), but Piet Hein said he felt that the word had come out of thin air. The contemporary "Hunden Grog" (Grog the Dog) stories by fellow cartoonist Storm P. has, in public opinion, been regarded as an inspiration.

Piet Hein's gruks first started to appear in the daily newspaper "Politiken" shortly after the Nazi Occupation in April 1940 under the signature Kumbel Kumbell. The poems were meant as a spirit-building, yet slightly coded form of passive resistance. The grooks are multi-faceted and characterized by irony, paradox, brevity, precise use of language, rhythm and rhyme, and an often satiric nature.


The road to wisdom?—Well, it's plain
and simple to express:
                   and err
                   and err again,
                   but less
                   and less
                   and less.
                           — Piet Hein

   Taking fun as simply fun
     and earnestness in earnest
   Shows how thoroughly thou
     none of the two discernest
                           — Piet Hein

   Problems worthy of attack, prove their worth by hitting back
                           — Piet Hein

    It may be observed, in a general way,
      that life would be better, distinctly
    If more of the people with nothing to say
      were able to say it succinctly
                            — Piet Hein


  • Hicks, Jim (14 October 1966). "A Poet with a Slide Rule: Piet Hein Bestrides Art and Science". Life. 51 (16): 55–66. ISSN 0024-3019.

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