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Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

: INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR

: INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR application deadened by the fiendish persistence of the coil of circumstance." At last the apprenticeship is over and Rosenberg writes* exulting : " Congratulate me ! I've cleared out of the shop, I hope for good and all. Fm free—free to do anything, hang myself or anything except work. . . . I'm very optimistic, now that I don't know what to do, and everything seems topsy-turvy." A little later comes the reaction : " I am out of work. I doubt if I feel the better for it, much as the work was distasteful, though I expect it's the hankering thought of the consequences, pecuniary, etc., that bothers me. . . . All one's thoughts seem to revolve round to one point—death. It is horrible, especially at night, ' in the silence of the midnight '; it seems to clutch at your thought — you can't breathe. Oh, I think, work, work, any work, only to stop one thinking. 1 '' he is But such moods are resisted. writing At another time " One conceives one's lot (I suppose it's the * Thi9 and the following extracts are from letters to the same correspondent. 13

: POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG same with all people, no matter what their condition) to be terribly tragic. You are the victim of a horrible conspiracy ; everything is unfair. The gods have either forgotten you or made you a sort of scapegoat to bear all the punishment. I believe, however hard one's lot is, one ought to try and accommodate oneself to the conditions ; and except in a case of purely physical pain, I think it can be done. Why not make the very utmost of our lives ? . . . Tni a practical economist in this respect. I endeavour to waste nothing. . . . Waste words! Not to talk is to waste words. . . . "To most people life is a musical instrument on which they are unable to play : but in the musician's hands it becomes a living thing. . . . The artist can see beauty everywhere, anywhere. . . ." In what is perhaps an earlier letter he excuses his neglect of serious reading by his lack of leisure and the worries that make him crave for amusing books as an antidote " You mustn't forget the circumstances I have been brought up in, the little education I have 14