This debut collection consistently employs a quiet, reflective toneGalassi enchants with subtle directness, and at times his use of concrete images and uncomplicated language in the traditional form is masterful. The poet, who is editor-in-chief of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, writes about love, friendship, solitude and natural and human-wrought marvels with freshness, and often finds original details to illustrate complex emotions, existential questions. ``And now you must return. / You round the mottled walls, the moment shifts, / the sunlight broadens and the last cloud lifts / over Monteverde, where the day / is gathering its errands.'' What is most appealing about the collection is Galassi's ease with intimacy. His proximity to and affection for his subjects and forms appears heartfelt; it is seldom that he gets too close and that the poems suffer from sentimentality. Incorporating elements from his own past with those of history and culture, Galassi maintains a fine balance of variety, humility and sensitivity. Keenly aware of himself and his human limitations, he accepts his place in the larger order, but always with wonder. (Nov.)
This is a first book of poetry by editor Galassi, also a distinguished translator of Eugenio Montale. Although his involvement with Italian letters is reflected in a few titles and allusions, more often his poems reflect experience with his own friends and family. He is at his best observing the quality of modern life (``The world has got so crowded, is there room/ for anything that used to be the past?''), contemplating the mystery of human strength, or decrying the impotence of art. He prefers to draw on traditional form and works hard to make serviceable use of rhyme, which will raise the inevitable objections; but while some of his raw material needs refining, the poetic potential is definitely there to be savored. Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.