Hugh Wyston Auden, English-born poet and critic, an American citizen who divides his time between Austria and New York, has selected from his own writings a collection of his literary criticisms, mainly on poetry, which include his 1956 inaugural lecture in his role as Professor of Poetry, Oxford University. Auden's gift for thinking aloud gives his criticisms which range from commentaries on Shakespearian characters to a section entitled ""Homage to Igor Stravinsky""-a peculiarly intimate quality. He manages to distill a contemporary meaning from the literature discussed, and communicate it directly to the reader without violating his belief that a critic should not ""tell me what I ought to approve or condemn..."". Whether he is expounding Marianne Moore's poetry or dissecting D.H. Lawrence, whom he considers both artist and apostle, his lucid observations are often witty and always thought-provoking. These graceful, if occasionally repetitive, essays by one of the greatest of living poets are indispensable to both students and teachers, and make a significant contribution to contemporary literary thought.