A graphic artist, painter and wood engraver as well as a poet, Jones’ work is recorded as being influenced by his Christian faith and Welsh roots although he was born in Brockley, South-East London. Jones became a Catholic in 1921. His artistry was evident from a young age, and he studied at Camberwell Art School. The Second World War interrupted his studies when he enlisted in the Army, returning to his studies at the conclusion of the war which took a great toll on his mental health. A hoped-for marriage to the daughter of Eric Gill didn’t materialise. He is known as a Modernist poet and was one of the Chelsea Group from the late 1920’s to the mid 1930’s.  His work attracted the endorsement of Kenneth Clark, T. S. Eliot and W.H. Auden although his poetry is not considered easy to read or understand by some.   Jones’ engravings and paintings won many awards.  

His most studied and best-known poetic works are In Parenthesis (1937) and The Anathemata (1952), both long, narrative poems. In Parenthesis explores his experiences during the war. The work commenced in 1928 and was published a decade later. The Anathemata explores faith, art, history, and mythology. In Parenthesis is thought by some to be one of the greatest literary achievements although how its themes and characters are represented continues to inspire commentary, including discussion on its epic qualities. In Parenthesis received a Hawthorden award. 

Other poems and essays were published in The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments (1974), The Dying Gaul and Other Writings (1978), and The Roman Quarry and Other Sequences (1981). Three further poems were published in 2002 in Wedding Poems. 

Poems by David Jones

In Parenthesis - David Jones