Two longish pieces dominate this 44th ND anthology, both of them dealing with ""the Feminine."" First there's H.D.'s 1957 poem sequence ""Vale Ave""--a progression of portraits of disadvantaged women, from Lilith to Eve to a lover of Sir Walter Raleigh to Hilda Doolittle herself; and though not topnotch poetry by H.D. standards, the historical interest is substantial. The other major selection: ""Yael,"" a selfcontained section from French writer Edmond JabÃ¨s' The Book of Questions--a fascinating literary work (lucently translated by Rosemarie Waldrop) in which the woman Yael is manifested as ""word,"" a representation of the anti-absolute and metamorphosis of truth that are JabÃ¨s hallmarks. (Here, too, are some brilliant JabÃ¨s aphorisms: ""Rust is fire on vacation."") The other, lesser standouts include intelligent, gifted stories by Paul West and New Zealander Russell Haley--and a touching, effective, long historical poem about George Sand by John Allman. But the rest is unimpressive: technically deft yet empty work by Gustaf Sobin, wretched diatribes against Manhattan ugliness by Enrique Lihn, and some intense but entropic poems by Allen Grossman. A characteristically uneven ND collection, then, with that JabÃ¨s tour de force as the prime attraction.