Henry Rago is not an inspired poet but he is a shrewd and subtle one; his success is rather like that of the well-dressed woman who adorns herself with but a single piece of jewelry, a piece both economic and elegant. Mr. Rago's technique and, to a certain extent, his themes, owe much to Eliot and Pound, Roethke and Stevens, yet his personality is completely attuned to its own perceptions, and he is rarely, if ever, overburdened with the orotund, either in idea or imagery. He writes lines of a shimmering hardness (""The earth shone as with its first rivers""), and is as much a celebrant of place (Haiti, Martinique, Provence, Paestum), as he is of moment-to-moment natural phenomena. His is a world of outward seasons and inward shapings, fused into something approaching sacramental knowledge, an austere estheticism: the poem as thing-in-itself, the metaphor ""not means but end"". At the heart of the half-noticed music, the slow unexpected rhyme, the low-key passion, one discerns both ultimate concern for craft and for ontological confrontations: ""If all has been for the poem/ The poem has been/ For the silence it comes from/ For the silence/ It must create"". Incidentally, Mr. Rago is long-time editor of the little magazine Poetry.