Piet Hein was a Danish architect, designer, and polymath. His contribution to this series lies in his “grooks” – short, punchy poems that hit at the heart of a question. The definition of a good after-dinner speaker in Denmark is someone who can talk for half an hour without quoting one of Piet Hein’s grooks. Below are several of my favourites.
Problems worthy of attack,
Prove their worth by hitting back
concave or -vex,
so whatever you dream
will be something with sex.
Nature, it seems, is the popular name
for milliards and milliards and milliards
of particles playing their infinite game
of billiards and billiards and billiards.
with toil and endeavour,
I wish I could sleep
for ever and ever;
but then this reflection
my longing allays:
I shall be doing it
one of these days.