Thanks again to the generosity of Nathaniel Drake Carlson, below is a remarkable recording of Jones reading the above which was published in the Sleeping Lord, in 1974 but first appeared in Agenda in 1965. I’m of the view that it gives a clearer idea of Jones’ ‘range’ and additional exposure of his lesser known verse is never a bad thing.
I continue to feel the need to point out that Jones is one of the great poets of the twentieth century and one of the most ignored which obviously says more about us than it does about him. Some of his work isn’t the easiest to engage with but the effort is always repaid many times over.
This particular poem, as Jones says in his introduction, narrates a hunt for a great boar through the Welsh forests but it’s also a quite moving and profound meditation on kingship. There’s also a brief commentary on the feudal system and its many inequalities. I’d also like to draw attention to the occasional use of alliteration and of the repetition of ‘ride’ which brilliantly conveys the violent surge of these men through the trees.
With regard to kingship, we have this:
the speckled lord of Prydain in his twice-embroidered coat the bleeding man in the green and if through the trellis of green and between the trellis of the needlework the whiteness of his body shone so did his dark wounds glisten.
There’s also “(indeed was it he riding the forest-ride / or was the tangled forest riding?)” which is a much better line once you start to think about it.