Grace Schulman. Houghton Mifflin, $22 (96p) ISBN 0-618-086622-6

Lyrically moving but formally unremarkable, Schulman's fourth volume of poems has four major subjects-Jewish religion and tradition; beautiful, striking works of visual art; New York City (especially its landmarks and parks); and the poet's mother and father-approached, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once. Schulman (Burn Down the Icons) opens with a ghazal (a Persian form newly popular in America) organized around the word "Jerusalem," which is a prayer for peace in Israel; she closes with a series of 15 sonnets in memory of her mother, describing the mother's last years and the poet's grief. In between, these clear, sometimes charming poems consider the tormented Jewish painter Chaim Soutine; "a rose/ still rising like a choir, past its prime"; an Upper East Side pigeon; a storm depicted by J.M.W. Turner; the Brooklyn Bridge; a medieval Annunciation; and "a black/white picture" of Schulman's parents when they were only "bright kids." Schulman-poetry editor of the Nation and a professor at Baruch College in Manhattan-writes warmly, even effusively, on all these subjects, resembling the father who, approaching Ellis Island, sees "the blue wonder of what might be... the miracle of a lined unwritten page." Schulman's New York will certainly strike chords with some readers, though the sights she finds in Central Park will surprise few-"blood-spattered stretchers," "a leaf glinting green" and "sunset's/ stained-glass colors." The sonnet sequence abandons all hope of linguistic surprise in favor of story and pathos. The descriptive quatrains and allusive-but never difficult-pentameters here recall, at times, Marilyn Hacker and William Logan; some of their fans will gravitate to Schulman's jewel-toned stanzas, while others will conclude that her soft-focus language disappoints. (Feb.)