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Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR He

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

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG of second-hand (in one of his age) there was in his opinions, how fresh a mind he brought to what he saw and read. There was an odd kind of charm in his manner which came from his earnest, transparent sincerity. The " sort of autobiography, 11 which I have never seen since I returned it to him, and has perhaps been destroyed, was the story of a youth, mentally ambitious, introspective, dissatisfied with his surroundings, consumed by secret desires for liberation and self-expression. The external facts of his life are briefly told. For these I am mainly indebted to his sister, Mrs. Wynick, whose devotion to her brother and his work was at all times unwearied. She gave much of a scanty leisure-time to typing copies of his poems, and many of them would have been lost but for her care in preserving them. Isaac Rosenberg was born at Bristol on the 25th of November, 1890. When he was seven he came to London with his parents. The family settled in the East End. The boy was sent to the Board School of St. George's in the East, and afterwards to the Stepney Board School. From childhood he showed a natural gift both for drawing and for writing. While at the Stepney school his promise 4