Walter Kaufmann has been writing verse for 20 years; the collection here is his first, perhaps in another 20 he'll have his second. One hopes by then the noted Princeton philosopher professor will have put between covers a work of some scope and significance. is certainly not that. The lantern-slide repertoire ranges from ""those who don't despair/ but grow when others are unfair/ give proof that they are strong"" to ""Graven images are grave/ in the region of the Nile/ Christ says he alone can save/ but the Buddha has a smile"". To be sure, scattered amidst the sing-song rhythms, the pretty ditty images, scrap-book nobilities and epigrammatic elongations, are sturdier stanzas embracing biblical bigwigs, the legacy of Auschwitz, the commercialization of the religious revival, the self-deceptions of modern man- but all done didatively, derivatively. After Eliot and Rilke, Auden and Brecht, Kierkegaard and Sartre, who needs it? As poet Kaufmann himself says: ""The age of the onion/ thought and feeling run thin/ the time of technique/ the age of the skin."" Well, the ""skin"" he hasn't quite made yet, but the ""onion"", that's all his own.