Saturday, April 29, 2006

Charles Jones - Epitaph for a Poet

What better way to begin a blog than with an epitaph.

Charles Jones (1906-98) was a poet-crank who once stalked the streets of Merthyr Tydfil thrusting poems into the hands of passers-by. He did this for 45 years. The words he wrote were literary grenades aimed mostly at Welsh politicians and the various sacred cows of Welsh culture.

Frequently physically attacked Jones was said to carry a knuckleduster in his pocket ready to fend off his more belligerent critics.

His misdemeanours are legendary. At one Eisteddfod he sold anti-Eisteddfod poems to punters who thought they were buying the official programme. In 1966 Merthyr Council took it upon themselves to publish a collection of his work entitled The Challenger at a cost of £150. The following morning Jones was out on the street vehemently denouncing them for abusing taxpayers' money.

Recently I managed to get hold of a copy of this mythical book and was delighted to see it carried a portrait of him on its front cover. The 41 poems contained within are a mixed bag - the best of them showing a concern for the environment. The final poem is called Poet's Epitaph.

Poet's Epitaph

Near the sky;
Where the four seasons are won't to gather,
In the soft breath of a mist
Lay me on the top of a tall mountain,
And in the round ring of dawning
Lay my head in the coming
My bare feet in the fall -
Lay me where the West Winds call the wild birds
And the Moon and the Stars understand
And in the warmth of the Sun's smile
lay me and leave me.