Isaac Rosenberg Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Isaac Rosenberg’s Moses combines poetry with verse drama. Rosenberg’s prose, letters, and drawings can be found in two collections of his works, one edited by Gordon Bottomley and Denys Harding and published in 1937 and the other edited by Ian Parsons and published in 1979.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Isaac Rosenberg was one of a group of young poets, including Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, and Wilfred Owen, whose lives were tragically cut short by World War I. Rosenberg’s early poems were slight; it is as a war poet that his reputation was established, largely through the efforts of his mentor, Gordon Bottomley. What makes him unusual among British poets in general and war poets in particular is his Jewish perspective. That aspect coupled with his working-class background sets his poetry apart from the Georgian tones of Thomas or Brooke, or the upper-class tones of Siegfried Sassoon or Robert Graves.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Poets of WWI: Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg. Broomall, Pa.: Chelsea House, 2002. A collection of essays about the war poets Wilfred Owen and Rosenberg. Contains a biography of Rosenberg and five essays on his works.

Cohen, Joseph. Journey to the Trenches: The Life of Isaac Rosenberg, 1890-1918. London: Robson, 1975. Three biographies of Rosenberg were published in 1975, their combined effect being to bring him to public notice as a significant war poet. Cohen’s account is the most sympathetic to his Jewish roots and background.

Desmond, Graham. The Truth of War: Owen, Blunden, Rosenberg. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1984. A thoughtful approach to three contrasting World War I poets. A good bibliography with good commentaries on all of Rosenberg’s trench poems.

Giddings, Robert. The War Poets: The Lives and Writings of the 1914-18 War Poets. London: Bloomsbury, 1988. A popular biographical approach, enacting Rosenberg’s life and experience in the context of his contemporaries.

Liddiard, Jean. Isaac Rosenberg: The Half-Used Life. London: Gollancz, 1975. The second of the 1975 biographies, and probably the most straightforward one. A good approach to the poems.

Maccoby, Deborah. God Made Blind: Isaac Rosenberg, His Life and Poetry. Chicago: Science Reviews, 1999. This biography and critical analysis examines how Rosenberg’s Jewish faith played a role in his life and writings.

Quinn, Patrick, ed. British Poets of the Great War: Brooke, Rosenberg, Thomas—A Documentary Volume. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Looks at Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, and Rosenberg and compares and contrasts their work.

Roberts, David. Essential Poetry of the First World War in Context. Burgess Hill, England: Saxon, 1996. Several critical books have tried to bring a historicist approach to Rosenberg and the other war poets, trying to reconstruct the overall social and political context out of which the poetry was generated. Roberts deals more with the poetic material than some others. Full bibliography.

Wilson, Jean Moorcroft. Isaac Rosenberg, Poet and Painter: A Biography. London: Cecil Woolf, 1975. The third of the 1975 biographies, this time tracing the growth of Rosenberg’s artistic ideas and the interplay between poetry and painting.

_______. Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet—A New Life. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2009. This biography of the war poet, whose brief life produced some memorable poems, expands on Wilson’s earlier work.