The Pulitzer Prize honor roll is indeed impressive, but an award that went to William Carlos Williams and Phyllis McGinley only two years apart obviously rewards diversity as well as quality. Hopkins' selection, on the other hand, rewards only brevity and familiarity. Nineteen poets, greater and lesser, and spanning the decades from Amy Lowell and Leonora Speyer to W.S. Merwin and James Wright are represented here by three or four short poems, excerpts or snippets apiece. The individual chapters are never long enough to develop an acquaintance with any one poet -- Frost, for example, is represented by some 37 lines comprised of four separate selections from A Witness Tree, and too many overly familiar verses (""Richard Cory,"" ""Buffalo Dusk,"" ""Ars Poetica,"" ""My candle bums at both ends. . . ."") are included in no particular context -- as is some passe deadwood such as Robert P. Tristram Coffin's singsong couplets. Neither historical nor evocative -- and all the reasons why poets are ill served by their reduction to two or three line ""memorizable"" bits apply here.