By Rosmarie Waldrop b. 1935 Rosmarie Waldrop
I have no conscience because I
always chew my pencil. Can we say
white paper
with black lines on it
is like a human body? This question
not to be decided by pointing
at a tree nor yet by a description
of simple pleasures.
Smell of retrieval. Led to expect the wrong
answer. An arsenal without purpose
but why yes please.
There is no touching the black box.
The tree not pointed at lives
in your bringing up the subject
and leaves space for need, falling.
The white ground. The waning heat.
I’d like
to say the history of the world.
Or that grammar
milks essence into propositions
of human kindness.
The difficulty here’s not true or false
but that the picture’s in the foreground
and its sense back where the gestures link
so closely to the bone
the words
give notice.
The application is not easy.

Rosmarie Waldrop, "Representation" from Another Language: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1997 by Rosmarie Waldrop.  Reprinted by permission of Rosmarie Waldrop.

Source: Another Language: Selected Poems (Talisman House Publishers, 1997)

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Poet Rosmarie Waldrop b. 1935

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Reading & Books, Painting & Sculpture


Poet, translator, and editor Rosmarie Waldrop has been a forceful presence in American and international poetry for over forty years. Born in Germany in 1935, Waldrop studied literature and musicology at the University of Würzburg and the University of Freiburg before immigrating to the United States in the late 1950s. She received a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1966. While at the University of Michigan, Waldrop . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Reading & Books, Painting & Sculpture

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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