David Jones' 'The Hunt'.

David Jones (1895-1974) has been described as ‘the forgotten British Modernist’. But he was a genre all to himself, a modernist who loved Malory, a catholic who was fascinated by the Matter of Britain and the symbolism and litergy of the mass. No one blurred the distinction between poetry and prose, or calls the distinction into account more thoroughly than he did.

'In Parenthesis' is probably unique, certainly my vote for the best book to come out of the first world war, but whether it’s prose, or poetry or poetic prose I don’t know and honestly don’t care.

The Hunt is taken from ‘The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments’. Jones notes, at the end, that is part of an incomplete attempt based the Medieval Welsh tale Culuwch and Olwen…a significant part of which tells of the hunting of the great boar Twyrth by all the war bands of the Island led by Arthur.

Ezra Pound's 'Canto II'

Ezra Pound (1885-1972) is possibly both the most influential and the most controversial poet of the twentieth century. Love him or loathe him, there’s a lot to learn from his poetry even if all you want to do is explain why you think it’s terrible. As an adult in any democracy you can make up your own mind about his politics and how it affects his poems and your reading of them.

I’ve read the Cantos through twice. So to say they are unreadable is obviously false. But they contain great swathes of boring, badly written prose; page after page littered with Chinese symbols and/or bits of Greek, and Canto after Canto of tedious attempts at ‘history’. They also contain jaw dropping moments of beauty.

This is the second Canto and it swings. I know no Greek so my pronunciation of Greek words and names is probably inaccurate.

Basil Buntings' 'Villon'

Basil Bunting (1900-1985) is one of the great English poets of the 20th century. Briggflatts, which for many people is the poem that substantiates that claim was written at the end of a long writing life, and tends to overshadow his earlier poems.

Villon is the first of his ‘sonatas’, the name he gave to his longer poems. Published when he was in his mid twenties, it tangles his interest in Villon the medieval poet with his own experiences in gaol as a conscientious objector and his more recent run in with the French police.