1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg


INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR me about a year to write ; for I have changed and rechanged it and thought hard over that poem, and striven to get that sense of inexorableness the human (or unhuman) side of this war has. It even penetrates behind human life ; for the ' ' Amazon who speaks in the second half of the poem is imagined to be without her lover yet, while all her sisters have theirs, the released spirits of the slain earth-men ; her lover yet remains to be released. 11 To Miss Seaton (1916). " Many thanks for book and chocolate. Both are being devoured with equal pleasure. I can't get quite the delight in Whitman as from one poem of his I know—' Captain, my Captain. 1 I admire the vigour and independence of his mind, but his diction is so diffused. Emerson and not Whitman is America's poet. You will persist in refusing to see my side of our little debate on criticism. Everybody has agreed with you about the faults, and the reason is obvious ; the faults are so glaring that nobody can fail to see them. But how many have seen the beauties ? And it is here more than the other that the true critic shows himself. And I absolutely disagree that it 37

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG is blindness or carelessness ; it is the brain succumbing to the herculean attempt to enrich the world of ideas." To Laurence Binyon (1916). " It is far, very far, to the British Museum from here (situated as I am, Siberia is no further and certainly no colder), but not too far for that tiny mite of myself, my letter, to reach there. Winter has found its way into the trenches at last, but I will assure you, and leave to your imagination, the transport of delight with which we welcomed its coining. Winter is not the least of the horrors of war. I am determined that this war, with all its powers for devastation, shall not master my poeting ; that is, if I am lucky enough to come through all right. I will not leave a corner of my consciousness covered up, but saturate myself with the strange and extraordinary new conditions of this life, and it will all refine itself into poetry later on. I have thoughts of a play round our Jewish hero, Judas Maccabeus. I have much real material here, and also there is some parallel in the savagery of the invaders then to this war. I am not decided whether truth of period is a good ' quality or a negative one. Flaubert's Salambo ' 38