1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG To Gordon Bottomley [Postmark, February ^(i, 1918). " I wanted to send some bits I wrote for the 'Unicorn 1 while I was in hospital, and if I find them 111 enclose them. I tried to work on your suggestion and divided it into four acts, but since I left the hospital all the poetry has gone quite out of me. I seem even to forget words, and I believe if I met anybody with ideas I'd be dumb. No drug could be more stupefying than our work (to me anyway), and this goes on like that old torture of water trickling, drop by drop unendingly, on one's helplessness. 11 To Gordon Bottomley {Dated, March 7, 1918). " I believe our interlude is nearly over, and we may go up the line any moment now, so I answer your letter straightaway. If only this war were over our eyes would not be on death so much : it seems to underlie even our underthoughts. Yet when I have been so near to it as anybody could be, the idea has never crossed my mind, certainly not so much as when some lying doctor told me I had consumption. I like to think of myself as a poet ; so what you say, though I know it to be extravagant, gives me immense pleasure. 11 48

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR To Miss Seaton (March 8, 1918). " I do not feel that I have much to say, but I do know that unless I write now it will be a long time before you hear from me again, without something exceptional happens. It is not very cold now, but I dread the wet weather, which is keeping off while we are out, and, I fear, saving itself up for us. We will become like mummies —look warm and lifelike, but a touch and we crumble to pieces. Did I send you a little poem, ' The Burning of the Temple '? I thought it was poor, or rather, difficult in expression, but G. Bottomley thinks it fine. Was it clear to you ? If I am lucky, and come off undamaged, I mean to put all my innermost experiences into the 'Unicorn.' 1 I want it to symbolize the war and all the devastating forces let loose by an ambitious and unscrupulous will. Last summer I wrote pieces for it and had the whole of it planned out, but since then I've had no chance of working on it and it may have gone quite out of my mind." To Edward Marsh (dated March 28, 1918). " I think I wrote you I was about to go up the line again after our little rest. We are now in 49 d