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Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR follow on with letters and shall send the bits of —or rather the bit of—a play I've written. Just now it is interfered with by a punishment I am undergoing for the offence of being endowed with a poor memory, which continually causes me trouble and often punishment. I forgot to wear my gas-helmet one day ; in fact, Fve often forgotten it, but I was noticed one day, and seven days 1 pack drill is the consequence, which I do between the hours of going up the line and sleep. My memory, always weak, has become worse since Fve been out here." To Gordon Bottomlcy {Postmark, August 3, 1917). " I don't think I'll get my play complete for it in time, though it will hardly take much space, it's so slight. If I could get home on leave I'd work at it and get it done, no doubt, but leaves are so chancy. It's called 'The Unicorn.' Now, it's about a decaying race who have never seen a woman ; animals take the place of women, but they yearn for continuity. The chiefs Unicorn breaks away and he goes in chase. The Unicorn is found by boys outside a city and brought in, and breaks away again. Saul, who has seen the Unicorn on his way to the city for the week's victuals, 45

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG gives chase in his cart. A storm conies on, the mules break down, and by the lightning be sees the Unicorn race by ; a naked black like an apparition rises up and easily lifts the wheels from the rut, and together thev ride to SauPs hut. There Lilith is in great consternation, having seen the Unicorn and knowing the legend of this race of men. The emotion^ of the black ithe Chief) are the really difficult part of my story. Afterwards a host of blacks on horses, like centaurs and buffaloes, come rushing up, the Unicorn in front. On every horse is clasped a woman. Lilith faints, Saul stabs himself, the Chief places Lilith on the Unicorn, and they all race away." In the late summer of this year (1917) Rosenberg came to England on leave. To Gordon Bottomleij (data! September 21. 1917). "The greatest thing of my leave after seeing my mother was your letter which has just arrived. ... I wish I could have seen you, but now I must go on and hope that things will turn out well, and some happy day will give me the chance of meeting you. ... I am afraid I can do no writing or reading ; I feel so restless here and un- 46