Just A Little Thought

“We have a defense

against other defenses,

but who will defend us

against our own?”

Piet Hein, Grook

The Special World Of Piet Hein, Part 2.

CROSS-WORLD from Grooks VII:

The world is a cross-word

immersed and immense

with letters that fit

in each spot.

And the tiniest, teeniest

details make sense

but the entire pattern

does not.

Just like Hein’s other poems, the Grooks are written in a classical metrical, rhymed form, and they have fortunately withstood the tinge of rhetorical pathos that occasionally hovers over certain popular poetry and hymns.  The Grooks are at the same time crafted with precision and free flowing.  Their paradoxical and fertile wisdom is often expressed in the very last word, like a pointed revelation.  It is neither satire nor sarcasm, but humor alone that lifts and carries these thousands of fairy-like declarations of independence.  Quite often their humor and catharsis are brought together through a play on words or an allusion, but it is always through perspective.  The Kumbel figure, which has found form in both the poetry and in Hein’s own drawings(with an affinity to Axel Nygaard’s vignettes), and which have had a vital importance for the poetry’s longevity, is a spiritual vagabond, a free spirit, a kind of cousin to Chaplin(with whom Hein became friends.)  With a flight of fancy, and without any sticky moral arrogance, Hein moves from the infinitely small to the infinitely large, from the restrictive to the cheerfully expansive.  He is a reformer who paves the way for a bloodless revolution and is full of confidence in the future.  His aphoristic mini poems systematically oppose political systems and have enough ideas to puncture ideologies.  The monumental number of quotations from Hein’s Grooks that have found their way into newspapers, books, lectures, and even on ashtrays and other similar industrial objects bear witness to a popular propagation that is presumably greater than that of any other contemporary Danish poet.  Hein has translated personally many of the Grooks into English, German, French, and Esperanto.  Their status as classics has been assured, but perhaps their apparent weightlessness has resulted in their not always being considered to be among the heavyweights of domestic literary genres.

We are leaving Wisdom to starve and thirst

if we cultivate knowledge as such.

The very best comes to the very worst

when Ignorants know too much.

Finally, one of my favorites from Grooks VI:IMG_5397