David Jones’s Birthday

His uncomforming bed, as yet

text to keep formatting is by the muses kept.

David Jones, The Anathemata, 68. Published by Faber & Faber, 1952.


Today marks the 126th birthday of the modernist poet and painter David Jones.

David Jones in his studio, via goldmarkart


Outside of his major World War I piece, In Parenthesis, David Jones was something of a peripheral figure in his lifetime but has experienced a renaissance in recent years. In 2015, selections from Jones’s In Parenthesis were narrated by Zeb Soanes alongside two sections set to music commissioned by Opus Anglicanum–now available in CD form. In 2016, the Welsh National Opera put on an open Opera setting of In Parenthesis which was accompanied by a BBC series of background/behind-the-scenes. As well, the “David Jones Research Center,” hosted at Washington Adventist University, held its inaugural seminar in 2018. The center today is working to digitize the David Jones archive and to advocate for the publishing of further scholarship on Jones’s work–poetic and visual.

One of David Jones’s lasting contributions to art and poetry is a sense of the wonder in the concrete and the beauty of things as they are. This appreciation for objects as inherently divine is best stated and concluded by Jones himself in a letter to H.S.Ede:

It is important…to deal through and in the things we understand… To know that a beef-steak is neither more nor less “mystical” than a diaphanous cloud. God loves both. The painter more than any man must know that the green grass on the hill and the fairy ring are both equally real. he must deny nothing, he must integrate everything. But he must only deal with what he loves, and therefore knows, at any given time. He will come a cropper if he tries to be more understanding or inspired than he really is. Let him love more and more things.

From “Letters to H.S.Ede” selected and edited by John Matthias in David Jones: Man and Poet, published by National Poetry Foundation in 1989.