Australian literary figures are about as well-known to outsiders as the bush country. Or if they are known, they're usually considered as interesting as a mile of scrubby vegetation. A bright exception to the rule is A.D. Hope, generally regarded, both at home and abroad, as the best of the ""down under"" poets. Hope is very much in the English tradition, the maker of finished products, a firm, forthright diction suffused with an elegant, lucid texture, witty, mature sentiments perfectly harnessed to meter or stanzaic patterns. He is, in short, an unblushing formalist, eschewing untidy experiments or any ersatz passion or warped subjectivity, often putting in classical or biblical or literary motifs to structure his commentary on the modern condition, thus achieving an interlocking of the contemporary with the timeless. Graves and Auden are the poets who most approximate the style, and Hope has clearly learned a lot from them, and that knowledge he uses carefully and well. Perhaps a little too carefully, for the one real drawback to the splendid collection is that no fundamental risks or adventures of the spirit are ever taken. The undeniably accomplished and individually delighting poems pass in review, pinpointing a sexual fable here, a symbolic landscape there, each self-sufficient, beautifully compact, wise, faintly sardonic, yet each somehow not transcending the barrier of form and thus not making the leap into the truly imaginative world.