1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


— INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR How, like a sad thought huried in light [woven] words, Winter, an alien presence, is ambushed here. See from the fire-fountained noon there creep Lazy vellow ardours towards pale evening, Dragging the sun across the shell of thought ; A web threaded with fading fire ; Futile and fragile lure, a July ghost Standing with feet of fire on banks of ice, My frozen heart, the summer cannot reach Hidden as a root from air, or star from day, A frozen pool whereon mirth dances, Where the shining boys would fish. To Edward Marsh (1914). " I believe that all poets who are personal see things genuinely—have their place. One needn't be a Shakespeare and yet be quite as interesting. I have moods when Rossetti satisfies me more than Shakespeare, and I am sure I have enjoyed some things of Francis Thompson more than the best of Shakespeare. Yet I never meant to go as high as these. I know I've come across things by people of far inferior vision that were as important in their results to me. I am not going to refute your criticisms; in literature I have no judgment, at least for style. If in reading a thought has expressed itself to me in beautiful words, my ignorance of grammar, etc., makes me accept that. 21

to — POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG I should think you are right mostly, and 1 may yet work away your chief objections. You are quite right in the way you read my poems, but I thought I could use the ' July Ghost ' mean the summer, and also an ambassador of the summer, without interfering with the sense. The ' shell of thought' is man ; you realize a shell has an opening, the ' ardours ' ; the sense of heat forms a web ; this signifies a sense of summer : the web again becomes another metaphor, a July Ghost. But, of course, I mean it for summer right through. I think your suggestion of taking out ' woven ' is very good. 11 The next letter is from Cape Town. To Edward Marsh (1914). " I should like you to do me a favour if it's not putting you to too much bother. I am in an infernal city by the sea. This city has men in it and these men have souls in them—or at least have the passages to souls. Though they are millions of years behind time, they have yet reached the stage of evolution that knows ears and eyes. But these passages are dreadfully clogged up : gold dust, diamond dust, stocks and shares, and Heaven knows what other flinty muck. Well, I've made up