Karl Krolow, considered by many the dean of contemporary German poets, has had a rich and varied career as a prose writer, essayist, and translator as well. He is the author of more than thirty volumes of poetry, each with a life and mind of its own. This selection aims to be as representative as possible of the four major decades of his life as a poet. In the forty years that What'll We Do With This Life? covers, Krolow ranges across many subjects and themes, all the while absorbing and articulating them by means of a lyric voice, or on occasion voices, that is at once abstract and detached, but so concentrated and focused that what is observed and communicated becomes intimate, almost voyeuristic accounts of our private lives - which turn out to be the sum and substance of our public lives as well. In poems Krolow calls half-open doors, he heightens our readiness to respond to life's exigencies, to which we are not quite privy, but which affect our lives deeply. His basic stylistic mode, part of the century's "parlando" tradition, issues from a deep private center that wishes to connect, if only briefly, often with one other human at a time. The paradox is that the more detached the poems seem, the more intimately the reader is affected, caught exposed in the blaze of the imagined moment. Krolow puts it this way: "Poems are for those waiting for lightning." Krolow also observes that in trying to make "the poem of almost nothing," he perhaps stands a chance of having it be about everything; he is fond of quoting Flaubert in this regard, who most wanted to write a book about nothing. But even as Krolow's "embarrassed I" tries to escape our direct attention, we reach, through the poem and its relation to our own internal monologues, human images that connect us all. Today, approaching eighty and not in the best health, Krolow remains poetically and politically involved, taking a lively interest in the emergence of a united Germany, with all the challenges that presupposes. As a critic, a reader, a judge of literary competitions, and as president of The Germany Academy of Language and Literature (1972-75), he has been generous in his ways with the talents of others, doing much to ensure that we will leave literary descendants. Almost no living German writer, and many another writer beyond the borders of Germany, has been without Krolow's direct or indirect support.