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Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR anchored. We have lived in such an elemental way so long, things here don't look quite right to me somehow ; or it may be the consciousness of my so limited time here for freedom—so little time to do so many things bewilders me. ' The Unicorn,' as will be obvious, is just a basis; its final form will be very different, I hope." 1 On returning to France he was taken ill and sent down the line. The time in hospital was a relief, especially as his restlessness in England had prevented writing or reading. To Miss Section {dated February 14, 1918). " We had a rough time in the trenches with the mud, but now we're out for a bit of a rest, and I will try and write longer letters. You must know by now what a rest behind the line means. I can call the evenings—that is, from tea to lights out—my own ; but there is no chance whatever for seclusion or any hope of writing poetry now. Sometimes I give way and am appalled at the devastation this life seems to have made in my nature. It seems to have blunted me. I seem to be powerless to compel my will to any direction, and all I do is without energy and interest." 47

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG To Gordon Bottomley [Postmark, February ^(i, 1918). " I wanted to send some bits I wrote for the 'Unicorn 1 while I was in hospital, and if I find them 111 enclose them. I tried to work on your suggestion and divided it into four acts, but since I left the hospital all the poetry has gone quite out of me. I seem even to forget words, and I believe if I met anybody with ideas I'd be dumb. No drug could be more stupefying than our work (to me anyway), and this goes on like that old torture of water trickling, drop by drop unendingly, on one's helplessness. 11 To Gordon Bottomley {Dated, March 7, 1918). " I believe our interlude is nearly over, and we may go up the line any moment now, so I answer your letter straightaway. If only this war were over our eyes would not be on death so much : it seems to underlie even our underthoughts. Yet when I have been so near to it as anybody could be, the idea has never crossed my mind, certainly not so much as when some lying doctor told me I had consumption. I like to think of myself as a poet ; so what you say, though I know it to be extravagant, gives me immense pleasure. 11 48