Piet Hein (three “grooks”)

This Danish scientist, inventor and WW2 resistance hero had an odd sideline as the writer of quirky, deep little poems in English. I love ’em.

Here’s one:

I’d like to know

what this whole show

is all about

before it’s out.

Here’s another, called “Living”.

Living is

a thing you do

now or never

which do you?

(In case you missed it, there is a simple, and simply terrifying challenge in that last three-syllable line.)

Here’s the first he wrote, a simple poem about loss, published under a pseudonym in 1940. It passed the Nazi censors, but later began to appear all over Copenhagen as the Danes knew exactly what he was saying:


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.

(Glove 1? Freedom. Glove 2? Dignity, patriotism, pride…)

PIET HEIN (1905-1996) was a friend of Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. 


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