He was born and raised in Depression-struck south Wales and, following degrees in history at Aberystwyth and Manchester, became a teacher there. Early in 1940, despite his pacifist inclinations he enlisted and, after long periods of training, joined the war in India.
Becoming a soldier galvanised Lewis's writing. By 1944 he had written two collections of poems and one of short stories, all published to considerable acclaim. Firmly established with Keith Douglas as the leading writer of the Second World War, Lewis's death in an accident while on active service was a huge loss to English literature.
This Collected Poems comprises a body of work which has endured and which transcends the label 'war poetry'; it is complete in itself and full of promise of greater things.
"Always, one feels the pressure of integrity behind his writing. And in elegising Lewis's promise we should not overlook his actual achievement…"
M Wynn Thomas, The Guardian