There’s a decent Telegraph article about Isaac Rosenberg by Harry Mount, detailing plans for a statue of him to be unveiled on April 1st, 1918, the anniversary of his death.
A very worthy project – but how correct is Mount in labeling Rosenberg an overlooked war poet when the canon was formed?
He has always been low down on that list, however, a forgotten addendum to the first division; he has never broken through into the pantheon of familiar poets. Not out of snobbery or anti-Semitism, these days; more because that pantheon was set in stone half a century or so ago, and it’s hard to break down the familiar boundaries of popular memory.
Yet he had strong champions among literary opinion-makers – he was the only war poet enthusiastically championed by Scrutiny, for example.
I think his lower ranking in the public mind comes from the fact that his poetry doesn’t easily fit into political agendas the way that Owen’s and Sassoon’s do. He’s more individual, more quirky, with a greater appeal to people who like poetry than to people who like gestures.