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Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR appeared so remarkable that the headmaster allowed him to spend all his time in these pursuits. Out of school he would draw with chalks on the street pavement. Reading poetry was a passion with him. At the age of fourteen he was reluctantly obliged to leave school. His parents were poor; and though they took great pride in his gifts, he was one of a family of eight, and he must now earn his living. He was apprenticed, therefore, to the firm of Carl Hentschel, in Fleet Street. A trade connected with art was chosen for him as a stepping-stone to a painter's career, and as something to fall back upon in case his resources failed him. But he hated trade, and felt in bondage. In his meal-times he consoled himself by writing poems ; in the evenings he went to classes at the Art School of Birkbeck College. He worked hard and won many prizes. Mr. Frank Emanuel, the painter, who befriended and encouraged him at this time, describes him as having been made " bitter and despondent by his circumstances " ; and his letters reveal fits of the deepest dejection against which his will contended. The uncongenial work came at last to an end. The sense of liberation was at first intoxicating. Yet work had to be found, and Isaac was deter-

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG mined to pursue art and nothing else. He met at first with disappointment, and endured many privations. But before long he found good friends. Mr. Amschewitz, an artist, and Mr. Samuels warmly interested themselves in his behalf. Through them he made the acquaintance of three ladies, Mrs. Josephs, Mi's. Herbert Cohen, and Mrs. Lowy, who undertook to provide the means for his training at the Slade School. Through Mr. Emanuel's friendship he had become a member of "The Limners, 11 a club of artists and art teachers, which met at Mr. Emanuel's studio. Here he had the opportunity of meeting other artists and exchanging ideas. Prizes were given, which young Rosenberg occasionally won. In spite, therefore, of his poverty and unpropitious surroundings, he had now won sympathetic friends, and received both encouragement and material help from discerning compatriots. But with his sensitive artisfs pride and jealous independence of spirit, he was not always easy to understand ; and those who, with the sole desire to help him, advanced his circumstances sometimes felt that their efforts did not seem to be appreciated. The case is not unfamiliar to readers of artists 1 biographies. 6