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From The CriticsHecht is the sort of brilliant man with whom one might enjoy lunch. Unfortunately, and here's the rub, you might end up reading his poetry. With entertaining narratives, dark monologues, fresh translations of ancient monologues and the occasional art-inspired poem, Hecht takes us through the vengeful and self-righteous world of comfortable, contemporary bourgeois academics. The poet appears always pressed deep into his overstuffed armchair by the weight of great learning and decadent leisure. Although he gets a few good digs in against academic excess with "Rara Avis in Terris," he falls among his victims in "Sacrifice." This three-part poem is built around a reductive, psychology-heavy association between the two Old Testament figures Abraham and Isaac, and an ordinary family who risk their son in a confrontation with a German soldier during World War II. "It wasn't charity. Perhaps mere prudence,/Saving a valuable round of ammunition/For some more urgent crisis. Whatever it was,/The soldier reslung his rifle on his shoulder." The sneering phrase "whatever it was" is annoyingly typical of these lines—whatever the mysteries of the ancient Hebrew tale of sacrifice, only a comfortable intellectual could toss off everything to chance. These poems seldom rise to the wry wit of W.H. Auden or produce the peculiar discomfort with beauty that one gets from reading Robert Frost, to name two poets he echoes. Nevertheless, if self-conscious literary intellectual hopelessness is your bag, Hecht may become one of your favorites.