If you care too much about what you have to say, if your heart is too much in it, you can be pretty sure of making a mess. Feeling, warm heartfelt feeling, is always banal and futile; only the irritations and icy ecstasies of the artist's corrupted nervous system are artistic."" Thus spoke Thomas Mann in ""Tonio Kroger."" He would no doubt be put off by Robert Francis, who does project the heartfelt feeling and operates in nearly uncorrupted poetic regions. But let no one think Francis' fine, modest poems have anything to do with gush and verbal snorting. He is a man happily immune to the hyperbolic utterance or viplin playing in the wings. Born in 1901 and still largely unknown (an unjust situation indeed), all of Francis' work has a uniform excellence: no matter how slight the form or subject, each poem has a special virtue, in each something honest is being said, and usually something wise. Graves and Frost are his masters, but the influence is never obtrusive: one feels that Francis has accepted his limitations and endeavored within circumscribed area to deal as best he could with the facts and fancies of his experience. Thus throughout this lovely collection of ""poems new and selected,"" a quiet assurance and inventiveness is charmingly apparent, from the small lyrical fables to the sympathetic humor of character sketches to the larger works: the amiable gusto and poignancy of ""Hallelulah: A Sestina"" or the long, dreamy ""As Near to Eden."" A sunlit book.