The Sleeping Gypsy is an important collection of poems by an American writer who was but twenty-nine when awarded the coveted Prix de Rome in 1958. When George Garrett’s first collected verse, The Reverend Ghost and Other Poems, appeared in Scribner’s Poets of Today: IV, critics hailed the emergence of an authentic new talent of great promise. Babette Deutsch, writing in the New York Herald Tribune, said, “His poems are short, highly charged, and also, as he intended, clear. They move rapidly, without waste, exhibiting a lively skill and vigor in action.… His sensitive perceptivity makes his thoughtful insights more memorable.” Louise Bogan, writing in the New Yorker, said, “It is good to come upon [in Garrett’s work] an ordered brilliance and effects, long neglected, that link us to the ancient tradition of English ‘song.’”
Readers will find in The Sleeping Gypsy all of the qualities that distinguished Garrett’s earlier collection of verse—the pointed, incisive writing, the abhorrence of “pretty” poetic words, the harsh impact of language that is, at the same time, strangely musical. Many will feel that, in this later work, these qualities have been enhanced and that Garrett’s advancing maturity indicates strongly that his early promise will be richly fulfilled.