1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


; INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR To Miss Seaton. " I forgot to ask you to return my poetry, as I mean to work on some [of the poems]. I agree the emotions are not worth expressing, but I thought the things had some force, and an idea or so I rather liked. Of course, I know poetry is a far finer thing than that, but I don't think the failure was due to the subject— I had nothing to say about it, that's all. Crashaw, I think, is sometimes very sexual in his religious poems, but it is always new and beautiful. I believe we are apt to fix a standard (of subject) in poetry. We acknowledge the poetry in subjects not generally taken as material, but I think we all (at least I do) prefer the poetical subject — " Kubla Khan," " The Mistress of Vision," " Dream - Tryst '" ; Poe, Verlaine. Here feeling is separated from intellect our senses are not interfered with by what we know of facts : we know infinity through melody." After leaving the Slade School, at a loss for work and anxious about his health, Rosenberg thought for a time of going to Russia. But it was difficult for a Jew to get a passport, and he reverted to the African journey which he had contemplated already some years before. 19

: 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