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Friday, 26 November 2010

'between poetry and painting'

More reflections on the Dissertation, I hope they seem interesting. These are inscriptions from David Jones' long poem The Anathemata, they are all made by a similar process using watercolours, gouache, ink and sometimes crayon. With quotations from the Latin Mass, Rome and even Finnegan's Wake they represent the breadth of the referential network, of the 'vast wooded Quarry' from which Jones takes inspiration and direction.

'For by the mystery of the Word made flesh the light of thy brightness has shone anew into the eyes of our mind Minerva has sprung from the head of Jove.'
The Inscriptions appear to us as relics which the poet may have unearthed from a burial site or discovered and done a rubbing of. They are just one of the material forms which the poem takes in an attempt to collapse the boundaries and distinctions between the literary and the visual, between the word and its physical manifestation. Ultimately the poem moves towards this action of making 'the Word flesh'.

This inscription is taken from Joyce's Finnegan's Wake; the highlighted words link 'thing' with 'place' so that every object is tied with its locality but also every object embodies its 'place'.
The Letters do not follow a strict pattern or formation but are separate entities in themselves, designed by an artist to fit their purpose, their meaning, their place within the word and in order to communicate their particular message.

‘To my parents and their forebears, and to all those indigenous, the whole family for the fair island of the Britons.’

They are the stone markers in our journey through the history of our culture, through the history of the world; suggesting direction and our own stumbling upon significance.

Text from a lost inscription put up by Pope Leo IV over a gate in the Vatican Wall, ‘Rome head of the world, its splendour and hope, golden Rome.’ –‘

Really what these show is the scope of literature to be more far more active than just words on a page. These words have physical presence and they also begin to map out a typography of reference and cultural foundations.


  1. Francesca,

    Thank you for visiting my Blog ("visu-AL-Chaer").

    It's the first time I came here and I liked too much your texts.


  2. I'm glad that I don't live back then. I couldn't read a word. :-)

  3. I do indeed find your blog interesting . . .

    Is David Jones widely taught/widely read in the UK? He has remained fairly obscure in the United States, and even perhaps mysterious, given the somewhat cryptic notice about him in Rothenberg & Joris's *Poems for the Millenium* (pretty much the bible of 20th Century Poetry in the US) - just a couple paragraphs without any samples of his work, the only poet so treated in either volume - which makes it look as if they couldn't get permission to reprint his work.

    I had a class with John Matthias at the University of Notre Dame in the early 80's (showing my age a bit here). He is the editor of Faber & Faber's *Introducing David Jones*, which was the only book in print by Jones at the time . . . so, needless to say, I got quite an introduction to him.