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Poetry Guide: Grook

A grook ("gruk" in Danish) is a form of short aphoristic poem. It was invented by the Danish poet and scientist Piet Hein (he wrote over 7,000 of them, 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. His 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 against Nazi occupation during World War II. The grook are characterized by irony, paradox, brevity, precise use of language, sophisticated rhythms and rhymes and often satiric nature.

Know it all cold?
Or lank with acedia?
Share and be bold;
Come build Wikipedia.
— Anon.
There's nothing that goads
Like no-passing roads
With a slowpoke in front
And a hot rod in back —
'Cause you'd never speed
It's just that you need
To get past that grunt 
And away from that devil on crack.
— Anon.
Schadenfreude Grook
Flare spoor, white powdery burns:
Like funerals without the urns.
Mark the passages of lives before eyes
And the uttering of inhuman cries.
Still we're always glad to see'um,
Cause it means we didn't be'em.
— Anon.
Well, it's plain
and simple to express.
Err and err and err again,
but less and less and less.
— Piet Hein.

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