In Human Wishes he [Hass] consolidates the strengths of his earlier work while pushing on into fresh territory. The first section of the book, for example, develops a new kind of line: lengthy, proselike in its rhythms and set off in a stanza by itself. These lines function as independent postulates in an argument, some plush and physical . . . others gnarled with abstraction . . .
The second section of Human Wishes consists of prose poems, a form pre-figured in some of the work in Praise but not developed consistently until now. Rimbaud is the father of this type of poem, and much American work in the genre still reads like a bad translation from the French. Hass has avoided the portentousness and easy surrealism that can afflict paragraphs trying too hard to be poetic. Instead, he looks to narrative models—the short story, the anecdote—as well as to allegory and the personal essay as guideposts . . .
Hass’s sense of the interrelatedness of all human endeavor gives his book a breadth of perspective and a distinct focus . . . It is a mark of Hass’s integrity as a poet that he rejects the usual consolations here. Art, nature, love—these are certainly pleasures but not solutions.