FOR ISAAC ROSENBERG
PRINCES dying with damp curls
In the accomplishment of fame
Keep, within the minds of girls,
A bright imperishable name -
And no one breaks upon their game.
Yet men who mourn their hero's fall,
Laying him in tradition's bed -
With high-voiced chantings and the tall
Complacent candles at his head -
Still leave much carefully unsaid.
When probing Hamlet was aware
That Death in a worn body lay
Cramped beneath the lobby-stair -
(Whose mystery was burnt away
Through the intensity of decay) -
It followed, with ironic sense,
That he himself, who ever saw
Beneath the skin of all pretence,
Should have been carried from the floor
With shocked, tip-toeing drums before.
With ceremony thin as this
We tidy death; make life as neat
As an unquiet Chrysalis
That is a symbol of defeat:
A worm in its own winding-sheet...
Fantasy Poets, n°11, 1952.
Isaac Rosenberg, Self Portrait, 1910
Tate Gallery, London.
In The Collected Works of Isaac Rosenberg (1979).