Grooks

Grooks are haiku for scientists and engineers written in runes instead of ideo- or picto-grams. The term was coined by Piet Hein, a Danish poet, inventor, and scientist. My description is about as helpful as describing a haiku as a three line poem with a certain syllable count about nature and seasons. Both descriptions are mostly useful in the rearview mirror, “Oh, that was a haiku/grook.” Both grooks and haiku are short, though grooks are more fluid in form. Humor is often a part. Both unfold on close reading into more depth than first apparent.

Piet Hein wrote over 7000 grooks that are collected into 20 volumes, all of which are out of print. My favorite is:

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

This grook with its illustration by Piet Hein and four others is available here. A more extensive collection is at Archimedes’ Lab. Hein started writing grooks are getting them published as part of the Danish Resistance to the Nazis, a form of activism or resistance, I find playing more to my strengths and avoiding my weaknesses. So maybe I should add activists and resistors to the audience in the first sentence. His first published grook is:

CONSOLATION GROOK
Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

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