1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


: POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG To Miss Seaton. " So I've decided on Africa, the climate being very good, and I believe plenty to do. ... I won't be quite lost in Africa. ... I dislike London for the selfishness it instils into one, which is a reason of the peculiar feeling of isolation I believe most people have in London. I hardly know anybody whom I would regret leaving (except, of course, the natural ties of sentiment with one's own people); but whether it is that my nature distrusts people, or is intolerant, or whether my pride or my backwardness cools people, I have always been alone. Forgive this little excursion into the forbidden lands of egotism." The next letter was written to Mr. Edward Marsh, in the midst of packing for the voyage to the Cape. Mr. Marsh was interested in Rosenberg both as an artist and as a poet ; he printed one of his poems in "Georgian Poetry, 1916-1917," and befriended him in many ways. The letter throws light on Rosenberg's use of language in poetry. As the piece referred to— "Midsummer Frost"1— is not in the present selection, it may be given here A July ghost, aghast at the strange winter, Wonders, at burning noon, all summer-seeming, 20

— INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR How, like a sad thought huried in light [woven] words, Winter, an alien presence, is ambushed here. See from the fire-fountained noon there creep Lazy vellow ardours towards pale evening, Dragging the sun across the shell of thought ; A web threaded with fading fire ; Futile and fragile lure, a July ghost Standing with feet of fire on banks of ice, My frozen heart, the summer cannot reach Hidden as a root from air, or star from day, A frozen pool whereon mirth dances, Where the shining boys would fish. To Edward Marsh (1914). " I believe that all poets who are personal see things genuinely—have their place. One needn't be a Shakespeare and yet be quite as interesting. I have moods when Rossetti satisfies me more than Shakespeare, and I am sure I have enjoyed some things of Francis Thompson more than the best of Shakespeare. Yet I never meant to go as high as these. I know I've come across things by people of far inferior vision that were as important in their results to me. I am not going to refute your criticisms; in literature I have no judgment, at least for style. If in reading a thought has expressed itself to me in beautiful words, my ignorance of grammar, etc., makes me accept that. 21