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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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Isaac Rosenberg’s Possessives

Isaac Rosenberg’s Possessives

(p.27) Chapter 2 Isaac Rosenberg’s Possessives
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran


Beginning with an extended reading of his best-known and most widely anthologized poem ‘Break of Day in the Trenches', this chapter shows how the war suddenly and definitively extended Rosenberg into a major writer. It demonstrates how this extension was a combination of forces: the war itself; his position as a resentful private soldier; his pacifism; his Jewishness; and his formal inventiveness, alert to modernist developments and eager to get a new vernacular into English poetic modes. It also offers a wholly original account of Rosenberg as a subversive dandy, ironically adapting a style of his time to the hideous life he had to lead in the trenches. Using his prose writings extensively, the chapter also examines Rosenberg's invention of a private mythology by melding traditional English Romantic and Jewish sources. Taking up T. S. Eliot's account of the poet, the chapter concludes by examining the nature of Jewishness and of anti-Semitism in his work and reputation.

Keywords:   Rosenberg, Jewishness, T.S. Eliot

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