1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


: POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG address in Whitechapel, enclosing some pages ot verse on which criticism was asked, and signed " Isaac Rosenberg." It was impossible not to be struck by something unusual in the quality of the poems. Thoughts and emotions of no common nature struggled for expression, and at times there gushed forth a pure song which haunted the memory. I answered at once, and the next day received another letter which told me something about my unknown correspondent. In this letter, which, like nearly all his letters, is undated, he wrote " I must thank you very much for your encouraging reply to my poetical efforts. ... As you are kind enough to ask about myself, I am sending a sort of autobiography I wrote about a year ago. . . . You will see from that that my circumstances have not been very favourable for artistic production ; but generally I am optimistic, I suppose because I am young and do not properly realize the difficulties. I am now attending the Slade, being sent there by some wealthy Jews who are kindly interested in me, and, of course, I spend most of my time drawing. I find writing interferes with drawing a good deal, and is far more exhausting." 9

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR He went on to tell of his admirations, Rossetti coming first for him among modern artists. He had seen very little of early Italian art, but divined that theirs was the type of art which he thought the only kind worth having— " expression through passionate colour and definite design " —not " a moment frozen on to canvas,'' 1 but " the spontaneity of un-selfconscious and childlike nature—infinity of suggestion—that is as much part and voice of the artist's soul as the song to the bird. 11 As to modern poets, they were " difficult to get hold of 11 (their volumes being expensive), but he had an immense admiration for Francis Thompson— "that is the sort of poetry that appeals most to me. 11 He had done nothing yet in painting which he would care to show. He aspired to do imaginative work, but at present was practising portraiture, as it was necessary to earn a living. At my invitation Rosenberg came to see me. Small in stature, dark, bright-eyed, thoroughly Jewish in type, he seemed a boy with an unusual mixture of self-reliance and modesty. one could Indeed, no have had a more independent nature. Obviously sensitive, he was not touchy or aggressive. Possessed of vivid enthusiasms, he was shy in speech. One found in talk how strangely little 8