It has long been a great mystery to me how Russo's poetry written
directly in English comes at me as entirely different from the poetry of
that other poet who uncannily bears the same name (and in fact is encased
within the same body, mind and heart) but whose poetry written directly in
French calls upon completely different attributes, savors, perfumes,
sensibilities, in short, the whole catalogue of what differentiates French
from English. In Russo's English verse, as here, whatever it is that
succeeds as poetry has to do with the interplay of ideas and images rather
than alchemy between words. And yet as I seek a few isolated lines to quote
here, I cannot find any! Now, why should that be? It is because each poem
is so taut that each word from first to last seems an essential element of
the whole. Pull one out like a brick and the entire edifice disappears.
Symmetrically, if I try to quote a line or two out of context I fear the
reader will be unable to make sense out of it. Now this is all the more
astonishing in that Russo gives an impression of looseness in his use of
English, almost as though he were rambling. But no, he is not rambling.
Each word is in its place, no other word would do, and extracting component
strings of words by themselves do not constitute poetry to the extent they
do within their completed whole, rather like jewels without settings. Yet
there is nothing esoteric about his verse. To the contrary, simplicity
rules, and accessibility is immediate, although successive readings do
disclose certain cunning and bemused conceits invisible at first.
World Literature Today.