Roy Campbell (poet)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell, better known as Roy Campbell, (2 October 1901 – 23 April 1957) was a South African poet and satirist. He was considered by T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Edith Sitwell to have been one of the best poets of the period between the First and Second World Wars.

Literary style

Much of Campbell's verse was satirical in heroic couplets, a form otherwise rare in 20th-century English verse. Rhymed verse was generally his favoured medium. One modern assessment of his poetry is that "he was vigorous in all he wrote, but not distinctly original."<

This is Campbell celebrating fertility and sexuality, in Anadyomene (1924):

Maternal Earth stirs redly from beneath
Her blue sea-blanket and her quilt of sky,
A giant Anadyomene from the sheath
And chrysalis of darkness; till we spy
Her vast barbaric haunches, furred with trees,
Stretched on the continents, and see her hair
Combed in a surf of fire along the breeze
To curl about the dim sierras, where
Faint snow-peaks catch the sun's far-swivelled beams:
And, tinder to his rays, the mountain-streams
Kindle, and volleying with a thunderstroke
Out of their roaring gullies, burst in smoke
To shred themselves as fine as women's hair,
And hoop gay rainbows on the sunlit air.

On the subject of nature, Campbell could produce poetry such as this in his The Zebras (1931):

From the dark woods that breathe of fallen showers,
Harnessed with level rays in golden reins,
The zebras draw the dawn across the plains
Wading knee-deep among the scarlet flowers.
The sunlight, zithering their flanks with fire,
Flashes between the shadows as they pass
Barred with electric tremors through the grass
Like wind along the gold strings of a lyre.
Into the flushed air snorting rosy plumes
That smoulder round their feet in drifting fumes,
With dove-like voices call the distant fillies,
While round the herds the stallion wheels his flight,
Engine of beauty volted with delight,
To roll his mare among the trampled lilies.

Selected works

  • The Flaming Terrapin. (1924).
  • Voorslag. (1926–1927). A monthly magazine edited by Roy Campbell, et al.
  • The Wayzgoose: A South African Satire. (1928).
  • Adamastor. (1930).
  • Poems. (1930).
  • The Gum Trees. (1931).
  • The Georgiad - A Satirical Fantasy in Verse. (1931).
  • Taurine Provence. (1932).
  • Pomegranates. (1932).
  • Burns. (1932).
  • Flowering Reeds. (1933).
  • Broken Record. (1934).
  • Mithraic Emblems. (1936).
  • Flowering Rifle: A Poem from the Battlefield of Spain. (1936).
  • Sons of the mistral. (1938).
  • Talking Bronco. (1946).
  • Poems of Baudelaire: A Translation of Les Fleurs du Mal. (1946).
  • Light on a Dark Horse: An Autobiography. (1952).
  • Lorca. (1952).
  • Cousin Bazilio by José Maria de Eça de Queiroz. (Trans. 1953).
  • The Mamba's Precipice. (1953) (Children's story).
  • Nativity. (1954).
  • Portugal. (1957).
  • Wyndham Lewis. (1985).





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