Published on Academy of American Poets (

Below the Earth

My first glance takes in 
an army, tens of thousands ready 
armed. As a mirror reflects 
indistinctly and with a feeble 
light, so it cracks and 
soon fades. From its surface a clear 
image of the beholder. 
In these paintings: harbors, promontories, 
shores, rivers, fountains, 
fanes, groves, mountains, flocks, and of 
course shepherds. Sometimes mythological 
episodes, figures of the gods, the 
battles at Troy, wanderings of Ulysses. 
Scorned in these days of bad taste. 
Now we have frescos of mon- 
strosities, candelabra supporting 
shrines, stalks with human heads. 
Malachite green, Armenian 
blue, red earths in 
abundance, vermilion like a drug.


From Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop. Copyright © 2009 by Keith Waldrop. Used by permission of University of California Press. All rights reserved.


Keith Waldrop

Keith Waldrop is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Selected Poemsi (Omnidawn, 2016), as well as translations of contemporary French poets.

Date Published: 2009-01-01

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