Although not always successful, Robert Lowell's Imitations offers us the best set of translations of European poets in practically a decade. Starting with Homer and ending on Pasternak, America's most individual and important 'younger' poet performs a real act of homage: these 'imitations' truly illuminate the genius of the originals. Occasionally the imagery, the cadence becomes too Lowellian, and there are unfortunate colloquialisms now and then. No matter, the spirit, the fibre is undiminished. Sappho, we must admit, escapes him, as does most of Villon, Leopardi and the rotund Hugo; yet the difficult Heine is beautifully rendered, as is subtle Mallarme and Rilke's incredible Orpheus. Rimbaud's elegant abandonment, Baudelaire's passionate decadence are masterfully transposed, and Pasternak is fittingly subdued, elegiacally touching. Yet Lowell's greatest stride is with the Italian Montale; at these times the sensibility of the two poets seems spectacularly entwined. Without a doubt, a major collection and addition to that small group of lasting adaptations.