As the decade began, poets likened America to the Roman Empire, but their vision of a great civilization undermined by imperialist adventures was a dead-end model, a warning equivalent to confessing despair. Robert Pinsky's The Situation of Poetry looked back and forward, a cross between an overview and a manifesto; it summarized the decade of poetry. The Virgilian clarity that salvages Wright from emotional wreckage is scarcely evident in his own poetry, which ends with a sentence fragment. Pinsky has moved closer to the position that Philip Levine, also a student of Yvor Winters, developed in the 1970s. W.S. Merwin's free verse in the 1960s of ered grim, symptomatic sketches of a deeply distressed culture that were widely adapted by other poets. Robert Hass's lyrics seem produced expediently, but their rag-tag quality belies the constellations of meaning they assemble.