Shy, retiring, religious, and physically frail, David Jones (1895–1974) considered art a “sacrament,” an act of co-creation that connects us to God. In a 1962 BBC address, Jones warned that “the nature of man demands the sacramental. If he’s denied the deep and the real, he’ll fall for the trivial, even for the ersatz.” But Jones’s reputation has not been as brilliant as his contemporaries thought it promised. Although In Parenthesis (1937), Jones’s first major work, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1938, joining works by Robert Graves and Evelyn Waugh, this pitch-perfect poem about the infantryman’s Great War came years after the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and it recorded a war receding into the past when the world was busy preparing for the next. Almost twenty years after In Parenthesis, Jones published The Anathémata (1952), meant...


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