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This review is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

NOT PARENTHETICAL DAVID JONES, Wedding Poems, edited by Thomas Dilworth (Enitharmon) £12

David Jones's two masterpieces, In Parenthesis and The Anathemata, are both war poems, of the First and the Second World War respectively. These hitherto unpublished occasional poems, a 'Prothalamion' and 'Epithalamion' written by Jones to celebrate the marriage of his friends Harmon Grisewood and Margaret Bailey, are also deeply conditioned by that which 'Prothalamion' calls 'the/unpredictable violence' of the twentieth century. Written during the Blitz of 1940, the two poems pit the perilously fragile union of Grisewood and Bailey against 'the days / of the final desolations' espied, in the 'Prothalamion,' in the dreadful 'bombast' of the Luftwaffe's raids on London. In the couple's 'bed of unity', the 'Prothalamion' barely hopes to believe, lies something generative with which 'to mock / the unmaking' of the capital and elsewhere.

As a Thomist, Jones's activity in writing these poems is equally conceived as a resistance to the 'unmaking' of the war. Influenced by the aesthetic theories of the great neo-Thomist philosopher, Jacques Maritain, Jones views the artist as an Aristotelian maker: he is an artisan rather than an inspired Shelleyan seer, whose creations, though material products, partake of the divine to the extent that they possess beauty. Jones's Wedding Poems thus seek to reiterate, in their unity of form and content, the occasion of the union of Margaret and Harmon. Jones's theories, to many, will sound arcane, perhaps even quaint. But as Drew Milne demonstrated, in the course of introducing a selection of Jones's work in the anthology Conductors ...


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