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This article is taken from Poetry Nation 3 Number 3, 1974.

Fate and the Image of Music: An Examination of Rosenberg's Plays Charles Tomlinson


IT WAS Eliot who suggested that the fundamental interests of a poet's work do not alter, that a poet cannot change the content of his work - what it is he has to say - but only the way in which he says it. The poetry of Rosenberg illustrates this axiom with a revealing clarity. From Night and Day, the pamphlet published in 1912 when the poet was twenty-two, through the development which culminated in the fragmentary drafts of the verse play, The Unicorn, on which he was working for almost a year up to his death in 1918, there persists a radical unity of interest. From the beginning, Rosenberg realised with the certainty of genius, the questions that he was called upon, that he was fated to answer in his poetry. There are no false starts in Night and Day, merely the absence of a technique. The things which were to concern him throughout his short life are all stated there, but they lack poetic realisation and the completeness of experience. His problem was to find for their embodiment, along with the exact technical means, a myth which would be adequate to contain them all and present them within the scope of a single poem. He first attempted this in the play Moses (1916) which is divided from Night and Day by the subtle technical advance of Youth (1915). The myth which he sought in Moses demanded a greater completeness. It was this which he ...


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