Louis Simpson is a poet who has gone his own way: unlike the many disciples of William Carlos Williams, he has not tried to redeem plain speech and ordinary experience but has consistently written with unabashed formalism about those teleological questions which have always been with us. Also unlike those poets who have taken their cue from E.E. Cummings and have tried to approximate the-fragmentation of modern life with willfully irregular rhythms and typescript, Simpson has maintained a more or less traditional line and coherent manner. And yet at his best Simpson is neither academic nor conventional. In some of his war poems, for with admirable skill, that precarious balance example, he manages to sustain, between tenderness and despair, so that we are forcefully reminded of the poignancy of human ambitions in the context of war and death. In this volume of rather modest selections from four of Simpson's previous books as well as twelve new poems, there does not seem to be any significant change of direction either in matter or manner unless it might be the greater predilection for the descriptive rather than the abstract.