David Jones: the Poet’s Place and the Sleeping Lord

by Brad N. Haas

      The poet in our current time is complacent, maintaining an air of respectability or is the creator of outrageous manifestos -- in either case is benign. In times past poets were leaders and creators of reality; they were respected and entrusted with the keeping of cultural inheritance. Somehow this has changed, and poets now are non-entities for the most part; sure, they are politely applauded by small audiences, they sell a few volumes; they put their private lives on display to make others feel human. But this is all ‘culture’, a word which now seems to mean, not the whole of society, but entertainment for the few -- dividends received for living in a ‘civilized’ society. Furthermore, poets generally believe that they are effective, believe they make an impact on society; and who is responsible for this misconception is a great mystery -- some influence outside the poetic community, or worse yet, the poets themselves -- an important question that will not be answered here. This, for us, is the important fact: the poet has somehow been marginalized, and there is no sense that our society would die without the presence of poetry or poets. Perhaps this is the gravest sign of cultural coma.

     Better than most poets of this century, David Jones (1895-1974) understands the predicament of poets. He does not claim to have solutions, but does make observations which are informed and seldom reductive. His work blends anxiety and hope -- anxiety over the seeming steady decline of civilization, and hope in cultural, even spiritual, redemption. Jones realizes that the poet’s place in society is minimal, yet despite this realization holds the post of poet as if it is the thread of societal fabric, and succeeds in creating a functioning modern mythology.

     It might be possible to paraphrase David Jones’s conception of the role of the poet in society, but impossible to do a better job than he does himself. Like Pound and Zukofsky, Jones is his own best explicator:

I am in no sense a scholar, but an artist, and it is paramount for any artist that he should use whatever happens to be to hand. For artists depend on the immediate and the contactual and their apperception must have a ‘now-ness’ about it. But, in our present megalopolitan technocracy the artist must still remain a ‘rememberer’ (part of the official bardic function in earlier phases of society). But in the totally changed and rapidly changing circumstances of today this ancient function takes on a peculiar significance. For now the artist becomes, willy-nilly, a sort of Boethius, who has been nicknamed ‘the Bridge’, because he carried forward into an altogether metamorphosed world certain of the fading oracles which had sustained antiquity. My view is that all artists, whether they know it or not, whether they would repudiate the notion or not, are in fact ‘showers forth’ of things which tend to be impoverished, or misconceived, or altogether lost or wilfully set aside in the preoccupations of our present intense technological phase, but which, none the less, belong to man.
     So that when asked to what end does my work proceed I can do no more than answer in the most tentative and hesitant fashion imaginable, thus: Perhaps it is in the maintenance of some sort of single plank in some sort of bridge.
     [David Jones, in a statement to the Bollingen Foundation, 1959] (DG 1978 17)

Jones is a poet of conservation and redemption. The office of poet, to his mind, is that of ‘rememberer'. But what is Jones intent on remembering? What is a bridge (or in his case a plank) to the past needed for? The statement above seems to suggest this: our current civilization has problems, problems which we are not able to clearly understand, let alone remedy. Jones sees possible explanations, if not solutions, in the juxtaposition of the present and the past. But, as he has said, the present has been disconnected from the past, and therefore from the elements of the past which would plaster some of the current fissures. The question then, for David Jones as a poet, is how to make the past valid for the present. A few statements from ‘On the Difficulties of One Writer of Welsh Affinities Whose Language is English’ (circa 1952) might elucidate the complexity of this task:
All works, whether of written poetry or of the visual arts, but especially of written poetry, depend to some extent upon the images used being drawn from the deposits of a common tradition, by virtue of which their validity is to be recognized by reader or beholder. True, the beauty of form and line can be appreciated without this common background, but, especially in the case of written poetry, if the allusions are outside the comprehension of the reader or listener, clearly a sense of what is said is immeasurably blunted. [...] It is the materia that presents the main difficulty. But it is precisely from the deep materia, with the asides and allusions and implications deriving from a virtually lost tradition, that the poet may wish to draw. [...] When I write these names in my work I try to make them come naturally, because by accident I’ve for long been interested in what they signify in English translations of Welsh stuff, but I realize that they mean virtually nothing to the reader. That is why I thought it necessary to append all those notes to In Parenthesis and The Anathemata. But I’m becoming more and more doubtful as to the validity of this way of carrying on. It’s not just names or being able to pronounce them: it involves a whole complex of associations. So far classical allusions and biblical ones and (in my case) liturgical ones still more or less work, but only more or less, because the whole of the past, as far as I can make out, is down the drain. The civilizational change in which we live has occasioned this. For a writer who relies on this materia for his stuff this is a bit of a facer. People think one is being deliberately obscure or affected, but the fact is that one ‘thinks’ in those obsolete or becoming obsolete terms. This all sounds as though I thought that poetry could not be written (in English or Welsh or double Dutch or what will you) without this reference back. I don’t think that at all; I mean only that for me it gets difficult if people don’t know what Aphrodite, let alone Rhiannon, signifies. (DG 1978 30-34)

This was written some forty-five years ago, when one might have assumed that the reader of poetry would know classical, biblical, and liturgical allusions. How prophetic it seems today when one cannot assume anything of the reader except ignorance -- this is not laying blame on individuals or institutions or ideologies -- merely confirming what David Jones foresaw. The discontinuance of tradition and the loss of common cultural denominators havecertainly not helped Jones’s situation, which is one of popular neglect. It is interesting that he knows this will happen, yet persists in his writing. But popularity is not his main goal; Jones is more concerned with making his work cohere in spite of the resistance to his project caused by the ‘civilizational’ problems.

     Jones attempts cohesion by layering images, each with its own cultural associations, so that the result is a multi-dimensional expression. The density of his poetry is due to this process; much like Finnegans Wake, Jones’s poetry ‘shows forth’ several things at once. As an example of this process we will investigate the image of the sleeping lord.

     The concept of the sleeping hero, common among many cultures, is a belief that some great leader will come again to help a culture or a nation when it is in need. For example, British legend says King Arthur will return to save the British people should they be in peril. Christ himself is a type of sleeping lord, a messiah who will return and purge the world of evil. Furthermore, the sleeping lord, upon his return, will usher in a new ‘golden age’, very similar to his previous mythical reign (i.e. Christian paradise is similar in conception to the Garden of Eden). Jones utilizes the sleeping lord image in every volume of his poetry.

     In Parenthesis (1937) is its own work. After that, however, everything that Jones writes is conceived as a whole, even though Jones cleaved bits to be published separately. While used to a different effect, the sleeping lord image in In Parenthesis provides a fine backdrop for its use in Jones’s later work. In Parenthesis is a narrative of soldiers travelling to and fighting at the front during WWI. More than that, it is the story of sacrifice, of scapegoats that must die to cleanse society. For any scapegoat to be effective it must be proven worthy and pure. Throughout In Parenthesis Jones evokes ‘noble’ images from the past. Page 51 describes soldiers sleeping at the front in WWI:

his mess-mates sleeping like long-barrow sleepers, their
dark arms at reach.
Spell-sleepers, thrown about anyhow under the night.
And this one’s bright brow turned against your boot leather,
tranquil as a fer sidhe sleeper, under fairy tumuli, fair as
Mac Og sleeping. (IP 1961 51)

The note on this passage reads in part:
In this passage I had in mind the persistent Celtic theme of armed sleepers under the mounds, whether they be the fer sidhe or the great Mac Og of Ireland, or Arthur sleeping in Craig-u-Ddinas or in Avalon or among the Eildons in Roxburghshire; or Owen of the Red Hand, or the Sleepers of Cumberland. Plutarch says of our islands: ‘An Island in which Cronos is imprisoned with Briareus keeping guard over him as he sleeps; for as they put it, sleep is the bond of Cronos. They add that around him are many deities, his henchmen and attendants’. (IP 1961 198-99)

Cronos, Arthur and his knights, Mac Og, and Owen of the Red Hand are juxtaposed with the common soldiers. As Britons, the soldiers are descendants of these typical heros, and as such are noble and worthy of sacrifice. Further, they are coming to the aid of their island in a time of crisis, and in doing so perform the act of sleeping lords. This particular passage counterpoints the sleeping soldiers, their ‘dark arms’ or rifles nearby, with any number of mythical figures associated with the ‘sleeping lord’ as mentioned in the note.

     The sleeping lords mentioned in the notation of In Parenthesis are found again in Jones’s next book, The Anathemata (1952):

All the efficacious asylums
in Wallia vel in Marchia Walliae,
of, that cavern for
                    Cronos, Owain, Arthur. (A 1952 55)

The notes translate ‘in Wallia vel in Marchia Walliae’ as ‘in Wales or in the March of Wales’ and ‘ogofau’ as ‘caves.’ These caves in Wales are the ‘efficacious asylums’ of Cronos, Owain, and Arthur, who ‘have been assimilated into this tradition of a sleeping hero who shall come again’ (A 1952 54n.). ‘Efficacious’ is a key word, meaning ‘capable of producing a desirable effect’; in this case there seems to be hope placed in the sleeping lord, but hope of what? What is the ‘desired effect’; what is the task of the sleeping lord?

     To answer this we must look at two poems: ‘The Hunt’ and ‘The Sleeping Lord’. These two poems are in fact fragments of a larger work that Jones was never able to finish, published posthumously as The Roman Quarry (1981). Jones separated these fragments from the larger work and published them in a book titled The Sleeping Lord and other fragments (1974). In both The Roman Quarry and The Sleeping Lord volumes, ‘The Hunt’ is placed just before ‘The Sleeping Lord’. As a preface, ‘The Hunt’ may provide some reason why the lord is sleeping in the first place.

     ‘The Hunt', as Jones describes in a note to the text, is "based on the native Welsh early medieval prose-tale, ‘Culhwch ac Olwen’, in which the predominant theme becomes the great hunt across the whole of southern Wales of the boar Trwyth by all the war-bands of the Island led by Arthur" (SL 1974 69). This particular tale is exemplary of Jones’s interests. It is one of a group known as The Mabinogion, the only surviving version of Welsh myth. ‘Culhwch ac Olwen’ is, as T.W. Rolleston put it, "the only genuine Welsh Arthurian story we possess" (Rolleston 1986 343). Jones is half Welsh and half English; his Welsh heritage is of utmost importance, as is the reconciling of his two halves. The reconciliation is to be achieved by some figure who is held in common by both the English and the Welsh. In this instance, it is Arthur: "What makes the Arthurian thing important to the Welsh is that there is no other tradition at all equally the common property of all the inhabitants of Britain (at all events those south of the Antonine Wall), and the Welsh, however separatist by historical, racial and geographical accidents, are devoted to the unity of this island" (E&A 1959 216). The selection of this tale is then of extreme importance: it is the vital link, as the ‘only genuine Welsh Arthurian story’, that connects the Welsh to the English; it is a ‘cultural deposit’, as Jones would say, a common denominator that may be forgotten, but is still valid for those who ‘remember’.

     In ‘The Hunt’, with a careful choice of words, and a certain amount of ambiguity, Jones is able to show us several things at once. As Jones says in the note, the war-bands of the island, led by Arthur, are hunting the boar Twrch Trwyth to retrieve (as one of the feats to win Olwen as a wife for Culhwch) a comb resting between his ears. Although the tale is of the quest for Olwen by Culhwch, the hunting of Twrch Trwyth is the climactic focus. Though Jones has told us what he is describing, there are times when a figure other than Arthur emerges:

                              and ruby petal-points counter
the countless points of his wounds
          and from his lifted cranium where the priced tresses dragged
with sweat stray his straight brow-furrows under the twisted
                              to the numbered bones
of his scarred feet [...]
                              he rode
with the trophies of the woods
                              upon him
who rode
                              for the healing of the woods
and because of the hog. [...]
                              the speckled lord of Prydain
in his twice-embroidered coat
                              the bleeding man in green
and if through the trellis of green
                              and between the rents of the needlework
the whiteness of his body shone
                              so did his dark wounds glisten. (SL 1974 67-68)

The ‘ruby petal-points’ are drops of blood seeping from ‘the countless points of his wounds’; the ‘twisted diadem’ is reminiscent of the crown of thorns, the ‘scarred feet’ marred by nails. ‘Wounds glisten’ through the holes in his garments. And he rides with these ‘trophies of the woods upon him ... for the healing of the woods / and because of the hog.’ Arthur seems more saintly than usual, most god-like; he is as much Christ as he is Arthur. "Whatever tangle of myth is in this obscure material it is evident that here as in the romances, and as historical figure, Arthur is the conveyer of order, even to the confines of chaos; he is redeemer, in the strict sense of the word" (E&A 1959 237).

     What chaos is Arthur ordering? In ‘The Hunt', and perhaps in the Culhwch tale itself, the actual chaos is the boar Trwyth, who leads Arthur on a chase across the south of Wales, to do, as Charles Squire has put it, "all the harm he could there" (Squire 1975 352). Jones has labeled ‘The Hunt’ an "incomplete attempt" (SL 1974 69n.), and in it we do not see the harm caused by Trwyth. But in the poem following it, ‘The Sleeping Lord’, there is record of the boar’s damage:

It is the Boar Trwyth
                              that has pierced through
the stout-fibred living wood
                              that bears the sacral bough of gold.
          It is the hog that has ravaged the fair onnen and the hornbeam and the Queen of the Woods. It is the hog that has tusk-riven the tendoned roots of the trees of the llwyn whereby are the tallest with the least levelled low and lie up-so-down. (SL 1974 89-90)

By the end of the hunt, the lord has not slain the boar, but has driven him off for the meantime, at a cost: the land is laid ‘waste’; it has been badly damaged. Furthermore, the lord is spent -- he is ready for sleep. He has kept chaos at bay, but now leaves the depleted land to fend for itself: ‘The Hunt’ ends and ‘The Sleeping Lord’ begins, ushering in a period of nighttime. As the night grows darker, and memory of the sleeping lord becomes confused in layers of time and words, conviction that the lord will return reverts to hopeful inquiry.
And is his bed wide
                              is his bed deep on the folded strata
is his bed long
                              where is his bed and
                              where has he lain him. (SL 1974 70-71)

‘The Sleeping Lord’ works as an extended metaphor. The resting place of the lord is described in terms of geography -- he seems to be resting on the land:
Is the tump by Honddu
                              his lifted bolster?
                              does a gritstone outcrop
incommode him?
                              does a deep syncline
                              sag beneath him?
or does his dinted thorax rest
                              where the contorted heights
                              themselves rest
on a lateral pressured anticline?
Does his russet-hued mattress
                              does his rug of shaly grey
ease at all for his royal dorsals
                              for faulted under-bedding. (SL 1974 71-72)

After the initial description of his resting place the poem introduces three characters -- the ‘henchmen’ of the sleeping lord, as mentioned in the note from In Parenthesis. The three attendants in ‘The Sleeping Lord’ are the ‘Foot-Holder', the ‘Candle Bearer’, and the ‘Priest of the Household’. Jones tells us, in a note to an earlier version of the poem, "The office of foot-holder was to hold in his lap and to keep warm the king’s feet when he sat at meat in the hall, and to keep the king from mishap during the mead-drinking" (RQ 1981 28). The foot-holder is needed when the lord is in a state of sedation, especially when the lord is drunk -- in other words, not able to care for himself, let alone anything else (one thinks of the unfortunate fights as a result of drinking mead in Beowulf). Indeed, the poem suggests the foot-holder not only attends, but protects his lord:
In what deep vale
                              does this fidell official
ward this lord’s Achilles’ heel? (SL 1974 72)
The allusion to the fatal flaw, the Achilles heel, complicates the image: the sleeping lord has the strength to redeem the land, yet must himself, despite the great power he supposedly possesses, be protected at some menial position.

     It is the Candle-Bearer’s office to protect the flame of the candle, to bring light wherever his lord might be. He is seen to "be standing / to hold and ward /against the rising valley-wynt [wind] / his iron-spiked guttering light" (SL 1974 74). His job becomes more difficult as "the wind-gusts do not slacken / but buffet stronger and more chill / as the dusk deepens" (ibid). And it becomes more difficult still: "Over the whole terrain / and the denizens of the terrain / the darking pall falls / and the chill wind rises higher" (SL 1974 75). We picture the candle-bearer struggling to shield the flame. Jones chooses words with negative connotations; the flame is ‘guttering’, burning low or flickering, not steady. The winds ‘buffet’, attack the flame, and the wind is not only strong, but ‘chill’. As the wind grows, so does the night; the ‘dusk deepens’, then the ‘darking pall falls’. A pall is a covering for a coffin, often purple or black. It can also mean a covering that obscures, or a gloomy atmosphere. It is all the more important, in this dark, obscuring, gloomy atmosphere that the candle remain lit -- it is the sole source of light, small as it is, combatting total darkness.

     It is the priest’s function to serve as spiritual guide, to remember the source of salvation: Mary and her Son, Christ:

... his main concern was with Yr Efengyl Lan [The Holy Gospel] and he liked to dwell on the thought that the word efengyl (owing, he supposed, to the kiss given at that part of the Oblation called the pax) could, in the tongue of his countrymen, mean a kiss. For what, after all, is the Hagion Evangelion if not the salutation or kiss of the eternally begotten Logos? And how could that salutation have been possible but for the pliancy of Mary & her fiat mihi? Which is why Irenaeus had written that this puella, Mair Wenfydedig [Blessed Mary], was ‘constituted the cause of our salvation’. (SL 1974 83)

But the thoughts of this priest wander further:
And when he considered the four-fold account in the books of the quattor evangelia [four books of the Holy Gospel] he thought what are these if not a kind of Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi sanctaidd [a sacred version of the four branches of the Mabinogi]? in that they proclaim the true mabinogi of the Maban [man-child] the Pantocrator and of the veritable mother of anxiety, the Rhiannon who is indeed the ever glorious Theotokos yet Queen of Sorrows and gladius pierced -- what better, he thinks, than that this four-fold marvel-tale should be called The Tale of the Kiss of the Son of Mair [Mary]? (SL 1974 84)

Just as we have seen Jones use Arthur as a link between the Welsh and the English (both as cultures and as the two halves of his lineage), the Priest of the Household is able to show a bond between the secular and the sacred mythologies that inform Jones and his surrounding culture: the so-called Mabinogion (more correctly, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi) has four branches, as there are four gospels in the New Testament. Further, the translation of ‘mabinogi’ is often ‘tales of the youth’ since the meaning of ‘maban’, the diminutive of ‘mab’ (man), is ‘son’ or ‘youth’ (Gantz 1976 31). It has been suggested that the life of the Welsh character Pryderi, which now forms one branch, was the tale -- thus the Four Branches would have been, at one time, the story of Pryderi as the Four Gospels are the story of Jesus. Jones is obviously familiar with this, at least in part, referring to the ‘true mabinogi of the Maban’, or the ‘tales of the youth of the Son of Man [Christ]’. The parallel is even more convincing if we know that Pryderi is the son of Rhiannon. Rhiannon was caused great sorrow due to the loss of her son, who was kidnapped, eventually to return and become the lord of Dyfed, the southwestern kingdom of Wales. Mary and Rhiannon are mothers of kings and redeemers; Jesus and Pryderi are sons and redeemers whose stories are told in four parts each. In this comparison there is hope, for to complete the pattern Christ must return, as Pryderi already has, once again to be lord. The Priest then is not only the spiritual guide; in forging these comparisons he ‘brings forth’ the promise that the sleeping lord will return.

     The three attendants of the sleeping lord fulfill their offices: the Foot-Holder protects from ‘mishap’; the Candle-bearer protects his tiny light against total darkness; the Priest of the Household preserves the memory of hope. Without any one of these all would fall into chaos. As agents of the sleeping lord, they are the slender host keeping the fragile structures intact until the lord wakes. We see how close things are to falling apart, yet we also sense that this force, however small, is faithful; but it also begs the question: how strong can faith be?

     The three attendants dealt with, the poem returns to meditating on the sleeping lord. The beginning of the poem presents questions as to where the lord is sleeping: "And is his bed wide / is his bed deep on the folded strata"? But by the end of the poem a gradual shift occurs:

Do the small black horses
                                        grass on the hunch of his shoulders?
are the hills his couch
                                        or is he the couchant hills?
Are the slumbering valleys
                                        him in slumber
                                        are the still undulations
the still limbs of him sleeping?
Is the configuration of the land
                                        the furrowed body of the lord
are the scarred ridges
                                        his dented greaves
do the trickling gullies
                                        yet drain his hog-wounds?
Does the land wait the sleeping lord
                                        or is the wasted land
that very lord who sleeps? (SL 1974 96)

The land itself, once seen as a possible bed, is now possibly the sleeping lord himself: "are the hills his couch / or is he the couchant hills?" When the question is asked, "do the trickling gullies / yet drain his hog-wounds?", it is wondered, ‘How long is his recuperation? When, if ever, will he be able to defend against chaos and restore order?’ And if the sleeping lord is the ‘wasted’ land, how can the land in need of redemption redeem itself?

     The romanticism of the poems is tempered with pessimism: Jones wants to be hopeful, but the modern era, for Jones, seems intent to reject redemption. In a large fragment, ‘The Roman Quarry’, a Roman legionary reflecting on his own time prophesies ours: "O man, this is but a beginning -- we, who reckon we suffer so late in urbs-time, who come late in time, when times have gone to the bad, are but at the initiation days of megalopolitan time -- Caesar is but a pallid prototype of what shall be, and what is shall pale for what is to come" (RQ 1981 42). This statement forces the consideration of the inherent flaws and gradual decay of Imperial Rome -- wasted and unable redeem itself; likewise, in ‘The Sleeping Lord’, we see our own situation, but cannot foresee our fate -- are we a second Rome? or will the sleeping lord wake? By ending ‘The Sleeping Lord’ in a series of questions, Jones avoids commitment to a view of the future -- he becomes, not a prophet, but a poet of possibilities.

     Elizabeth Ward, in her study David Jones: Mythmaker (finding its place here as the only in-depth work on Jones that is ultimately negative) makes this observation: "... I have stressed the almost Manichean simplicity of David Jones’s ideological convictions, arguing that the vaunted obscurity of his poetry, bristling as it is with syntactic and allusive difficulty, is more accidental than substantial, disguising an inner transparency of meaning..." (Ward 1983 206). Ward has written a well-researched and compellingly argued book, but has read the evidence in a way that does not coincide with my reading of Jones. She sees Jones’s diction as hollow artifice, unnecessarily complex ornament for the relatively elementary under-thoughts. What Ward calls ‘vaunted obscurity’ and ‘allusive difficulty’ and ‘accidental’ I would call ‘universal’ and ‘substantial’. Jones does start with elementary ideas, not in the sense of ‘easy’, but in the sense of ‘essential’. He then builds layer upon layer an edifice of words which is able, if the reader is knowledgeable enough, to encompass the complexities of the situation, make the connections between cultures and times. Where Ward wants to see the complex made simple, Jones shows the seemingly simple in all its complexity. Look again at the reference to the sleeping lord from The Anathemata:

All the efficacious asylums
in Wallia vel in Marchia Walliae,
of, that cavern for
                    Cronos, Owain, Arthur. (A 1952 55)

In this one small section Jones is able to connect three cultures: Imperial Roman (Cronos, Saturn to the Romans, god of the golden age), pagan Welsh (Owain), and Anglo-Christian (Arthur). All three cultures are bonded in a uniform desire, to redeem the land and re-institute order. As he said of his entire corpus, "I have this feeling of wanting to include 'everything'; 'the whole' in such works as I have tried to make [...] I mean the entirety of totality in a little place or space" (LTF 1980 80-1). Hopefully this paper, in its focus on a single albeit seminal image, has shown Jones’s ability to do this.

     And yet, it seems futile to judge Jones by any standard other than his own. In ‘The Myth of Arthur’ (1942) Jones defines true myth:

To conserve, to develop, to bring together, to make significant for the present what the past holds, without dilution or any deleting, but rather by understanding and transubstantiating the material, this is the function of genuine myth, neither pedantic nor popularizing, not indifferent to scholarship, nor antiquarian, but saying always: ‘of these thou hast given me have I lost none’. (E&A 1959 243)

The density of Jones’s work, his attention to detail, never letting a connection disappear, is wholly admirable. It is true that he never ‘popularized’ his myth, but can anything worthwhile be popularized without some dilution? And though he deals with the ancient past, he is in no way ‘antiquarian’; how could he be, someone who is so concerned ‘to make significant for the present what the past holds’? He utilizes the mythic material in its own context, yet also lifts it and places it in the context of the modern age, and the symbols are shown to be relevant for both times. Perhaps the most accurate description of Jones’s accomplishment is his own statement on James Joyce in the essay, ‘The Dying Gaul’:
[James Joyce is] the most creative literary genius of this century, using English as the lingua franca of a megalopolitan civilization, [who has] developed an art-form showing an essential Celticity as intricate, complex, flexible, exact and abstract as anything from the visual arts of La Tene or Kells or from the aural intricacies of medieval Welsh metric, an art-form in which the Celtic demands with regard to place, site, identity, are a hundred-fold fulfilled. (DG 1978 58)

To praise the strengths of Joyce -- Celtic intricacy, complexity, universality, ties to culture and place -- is to acknowledge the strengths of Jones. If one were to point to differences, it may be that Jones better understood the ‘civilizational situation’ in which he found himself; yet ‘knowing’ in no way guarantees, and may even impinge upon, the ‘making’ of sublime art.



(A 1952)          Jones, David. The Anathemata. London: Faber, 1952. Reprinted,
                         with corrections, 1955.

(DG 1978)        ____________ The Dying Gaul and other writings. London: Faber,

(E&A 1959)      ____________ Epoch and Artist. London: Faber, 1959.

(IP 1961)          ____________ In Parenthesis. New York: Chilmark Press, 1961.
                         (originally printed 1937 by Faber).

(LTF 1980)       ____________ Letters to a friend. Swansea: Triskele Books, 1980.

(RQ 1981)         ____________ The Roman quarry, and other sequences. New York:
                          Sheep Meadow Press, c1981.

(SL 1974)         ____________ The Sleeping Lord and other Fragments. London:
                         Faber, 1974.


(Gantz 1976)          Gantz, Jeffrey, trans. The Mabinogion. London: Penguin,                                  1976.

(Rolleston 1986)     Rolleston, T.W. Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race. New
                                 York: Schocken Books, 1986. (reprint of the 1911 edition).

(Squire 1975)          Squire, Charles. Celtic Myth and Legend. Hollywood, CA:
                                 Newcastle Publishing Co., 1975. (reprint of 1905 edition,
                                 under the title, The Mythology of the British Isles).

(Ward 1983)            Ward, Elizabeth. David Jones: Mythmaker. Manchester:
                                 Manchester University Press, 1983.