JONES, David

(1895 - 1974)

Like William Blake a century earlier, Walter David Jones was one of those rare artists who were known equally as poets and visual artists. Born in London he went to the Camberwell School of Art until 1914, when he enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers with whom he served for four years, much of it in the trenches as a private soldier.  Vivid images of his war service stayed with him for ever, inhabiting much that he wrote and painted from then on, and, combined with his religious conversion to Catholicism, permeate his first poetic work In Parenthesis [1937], acclaimed by T S Eliot as ‘a work of genius’.  In the early 1920s Jones spent much of his time at Ditchling with Eric Gill, where he learned to hone his art and calm his mind.  His move to the Black Mountains in Wales, the land he saw as the country of his forefathers, saw a flourishing of his art – both visual and written. His second long poem, The Anathemata [1952], was described by Auden as  "very probably the finest long poem written in English this century," 

One of the first British modernist poets, he is best known for his two long narrative poems, and  “is increasingly regarded as an important, innovative poet, who has extended and refined the techniques of literary modernism”. 

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 David JONES

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