Isaac Rosenberg

1890-1918

 

Silkin notes in his introduction to the Penquin Book of First World Poetry (1979) that there are what he decribes as four levels of poetry's response to the Great War: 1)the early poetry of "prevailing patriotic ideas," as in Rupert Brooke; 2)the poetry of jeremiad and bitter anger, as in Sassoon.; 3)the poetry of compassion, of pity, as in, pre-eminently, of course, Wilfrid Owen; and a final stage 4) the comprehensive poetry of apocalypse, a kind of Blakean visionary war poetry, as in Isaac Rosenberg. Silkin is not alone in placing Rosenberg's work at the apex of the scale, for other readers have also been increasingly drawn to what Silkin describes as Rosenberg's compression, his merging of "anger and compassion" and "extreme intelligence" into an "active desire for change, a change that will re-align the elements of human society in such a way as to make it more creative and fruitful" (pp. 30- 2).

Please note the following pathways to further comment and resources.

Link to Rosenberg photograph, 1917

Silkin on the Owen/Rosenberg contrast

Oxford hypermedia text of "Break of Day in the Trenches"

A biography of Rosenberg

A selection of Rosenberg's letters