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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Two poems on poets: David Jones and Dylan Thomas

Here are poems on two poets; the first about the art of David Jones and the second on the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

Windows into the divine

Supple sensuous sinuous pencil lines combine
with sketchy swathes, swatches
and blotches of aqueous colour,
minimal modelling merging near and far,
present and past on shallow space.
Glass chalices, open windows,
flowers and thorns, still life and landscape.
The Eucharist - one reality in the form of another,
heaven in ordinary - frames and forms his making –
all human making - sacramental signification,
inutile and gratuitous; graceful, playful,
light and loving, abundant and affirming.

If we attend, the waters are freed,
aqueous light floods static subjects
as fluid flecks, flurries and washes of colour
suffuse, invade, imbue and inform;
playing freely on forms creating flux,
confusing boundaries, circling round transparent images,
blending, merging all - the wood and the trees -
bringing all within imagination’s reach.
The spiritual shimmering, shining through the material,
the universal in the particular -
seeing with, not through the eye -
for to pay attention, this is prayer.

A Londoner of Protestant upbringing,
Catholic subscription, and of particular
Welsh and English stock.
A Christian modernist chasing connection
through heritage and lineage,
interlinking, interleaving past and present;
like iconographers' writing images,
David Jones opened windows into the divine
in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Capel-y-ffin,
Pigotts, and Portslade.

Dylan Thomas was more at home with Blake and Vaughan than Marx and Proust

Dylan Thomas was more at home
with Blake and Vaughan than Marx and Proust.
He had one foot in Eden, the other in Babylon,
one hand on the Bible, the other under bedclothes,
knowing the actual world’s deplorable sordidness
and the invisible world’s splendour.
One who didn’t believe in God
wrote poems in praise of God’s world,
knowing the godhead, the author, the milky-way farmer,
the first cause, architect, lamp-lighter, quintessence,
the beginning Word, the anthropomorphic bowler-out and blackballer,
the stuff of all men, scapegoat, martyr, maker, woe-bearer.
In the beginning was the word, the Christ-word,
the word that from the solid bases of the light
abstracted all the letters of the void.
He, on top of the hill in heaven, wept whenever,
outside that state of being called his country,
one of his worlds dropped dead,
vanished screaming, shrivelled, exploded, murdered itself.
And, when he wept, light and his tears
glided down together, hand in hand.
So, the Christ was dipped breast-deep in the descended bone.
The one child who was priest and servants,
Word, singers, and tongue.
The Christ born thorny on the tree,
whose blood touched the crosstree.
This was a saviour, rarer than radium,
commoner than water, crueller than truth;
children kept from the sun, assembled at his tongue
to hear the golden note turn in a groove,
prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
in the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.
This was a saviour, the serpent’s
night fall and the fruit like a sun.
The flesh we break, the blood we let,
were born of the sensual root and sap;
his wine we drink, his bread we snap.

See for the inspiration of this poem, which incorporates phrases from Thomas' poems and prose as well as Andrew Sinclair's Dylan The Bard.

Dylan Thomas - Altarwise By Owl Light.

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