Rosenberg, Isaac (1890–1918) By Peters, John
An important but underappreciated British poet of the First World War, Isaac Rosenberg made a significant contribution to the literature that came out of the war. Throughout his life, Rosenberg was beset by poverty, and unlike many other young men of that time enlisted when the war broke out primarily for the steady pay cheque. Rosenberg comments on nature’s indifference to the tragedy occurring in its midst and exposes the precarious position of men in the conflict. He invokes religious imagery to interrogate the role of deity amidst the carnage of the battle. Highly sceptical when he entered the conflict, Rosenberg responded to the war not with feelings of disenchantment, but with a modernist scepticism toward Western civilization and the Western worldview. His unique response to the war gives him a place with Wilfred Owen as one of the most important British poets to write about their First World War experience. Had Rosenberg survived the war, it seems possible that he might have become a powerful voice in Modernist literature.