Samuel Greenberg

Samuel Greenberg

Samuel Bernard Greenberg (1893-1917) was born in the Jewish ghetto in Vienna and settled with his family in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at age seven. He contracted Tuberculosis and died at twenty-three.

Poems from the Greenberg Manuscripts

Poetry by Samuel Greenberg

Edited by James Laughlin

With a contribution by Garrett Caples

“Who was Samuel Greenberg?” editor Garrett Caples asks: “The short answer is ‘the dead, unknown poet Hart Crane plagiarized.’” In the winter of 1923, Crane was given some of Greenberg’s notebooks and called him “a Rimbaud in embryo.” Crane included many of Greenberg’s lines, uncredited and slightly changed, in his own poetry. Poems from the Greenberg Manuscripts was edited by James Laughlin, who first published it in 1939. As well as Laughlin’s original essay, Caples includes a new selection of poems from Greenberg’s notebooks, along with some of his prose.…
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His favorite word for what he sought in poetry was “charm,” and perhaps his most pervasive quality is an alluring whimsicality…Poems from the Greenberg Manuscripts is, as Caples puts it, “a reasonable stop-gap, as a way to bring this work before a new generation of readers.” As stop-gaps go, it has a great deal to recommend it. Laughlin’s volume, with its still-vivid essay and thoughtful selection of 22 of Greenberg’s lyrics, remains a classic, and Caples has supplemented it with 10 more poems and three prose pieces, including “Between Historical Life,” Greenberg’s moving autobiographical narrative.
Jewish Review of Books
Rimbaud in utero.
—Hart Crane
…a radical form of sprung lyric—a wild, sound-wracked syntactic syncretism that verges on the abstract and the rhapsodic…
—Charles Bernstein
A strange but remarkable talent.
—James Laughlin
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