Poetry and the Kenotic Word
Incarnation and Embodiment in The Poetry and Theoretical Writings of David Jones
The twentieth-century Anglo-Welsh artist, poet and essayist, David Jones, wrote poetry which can be considered modernist in style, and which was admired by other modernist poets – T. S. Eliot, for example, considered Jones to be similar to himself and Ezra Pound and James Joyce (Jones In Parenthesis vii–viii) – but his themes are atypical for a modernist: he displays, for example, a strong interest in the late classical and early medieval period of British history in his poetry, and he has a Catholic, and, broadly, Thomist religious and philosophical orientation. He explains his poetic practice in essays and prefaces to his own poems, focusing on perspectives such as the analogies between art and sacrament, and the role of art as the collecting up and embodying of the various elements and layers that form a culture. This essay focuses both on how Jones explains, in his writings on art, embodiment as an artistic process, and on the way his poetry exemplifies his theories, in particular his long poem The Anathemata and his medium-length poem “The Sleeping Lord”, from his collection The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments.
Jones wrote on art in many essays, but particularly extended treatments of his theoretical stance are to be found in his essay “Art and Sacrament” and in his preface to The Anathemata. The core of his theory of art is his explanation of representation, to be found most explicitly in “Art and Sacrament”.1 His contention is that representation in art...
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