So much fine writing already exists here concerning Roy Campbell (October 2, 1901–April 22, 1957) that it would be hardly fair to Counter-Currents’ previous Campbell biographers to repeat—my own rephrasing notwithstanding—this poet’s life story once again. Let it simply stand that October 2, 2011 is Roy Campbell’s 110th birthday, and we remember him as poet, as a man of action, and as a heroic defender of the faith.
It is a mighty testament to his talent that his work and life are commemorated still, considering how much suppression his poetry — and therefore his very existence as a poet and hero — were subject to by the intellectual cabal of his day, and all the days since. He died, neck broken in an auto accident in Portugal, April 1957.
The following poems of Campbell both appeared in Sir Oswald Mosley’s BUF Quarterly magazine, published sometime between 1936 and 1940.
By Roy Campbell
The Rock of Faith, the thunder-blasted—
Eternity will hear it rise
With those who (Hell itself outlasted)
Will lift it with them to the skies!
‘Till whispered through the depths of Hell
The censored Miracle be known,
And flabbergasted fiends re-tell
How fiercer tortures than their own
By living faith were overthrown;
How mortals, thinned to ghastly pallor,
Gangrened and rotting to the bone,
With winged souls of Christian valour
Beyond Olympus or Valhalla
Can heave ten million tons of stone!
*In the summer of 1936, during the early part of the Spanish Civil War, Colonel José Moscardó Ituarte, and Spanish Nationalist Forces in support of General Franco, held a massive stone fortress, The Alcazar, against overwhelming Spanish Republican forces. Despite being under continual bombardment, day and night, Col Moscardo and the Nationalists (reportedly nearly 1000 people—more than half of which were women) held out for two months.
By Roy Campbell
One silver-white and one of scarlet hue,
Storm-hornets humming in the wind of death,
Two aeroplanes were fighting in the blue
Above our town; and if I held my breath,
It was because my youth was in the Red
While in the White an unknown pilot flew—
And that the White had risen overhead.
From time to time the crackle of a gun
Far into flawless ether faintly railed,
And now, mosquito-thin, into the Sun,
And now like mating dragonflies they sailed:
And, when like eagles near the earth they drove,
The Red, still losing what the White had won,
The harder for each lost advantage strove.
So lovely lay the land—the towers and trees
Taking the seaward counsel of the stream:
The city seemed, above the far-off seas,
The crest and turret of a Jacob’s dream,
And those two gun-birds in their frantic spire
At death-grips for its ultimate regime—
Less to be whirled by anger than desire.
‘Till (Glory!) from his chrysalis of steel
The Red flung wide the fatal fans of fire:
I saw the long flames, ribboning, unreel,
And slow bitumen trawling from his pyre,
I knew the ecstasy, the fearful throes,
And the white phoenix from his scarlet sire,
As silver the Solitude he rose.
The towers and trees were lifted hymns of praise,
The city was a prayer, the land a nun:
The noonday azure strumming all his rays
Sang that a famous battle had been won,
As signing his white Cross, the very Sun,
The Solar Christ and captain of my days
Zoomed to the zenith; and his will was done.
Roy Campbell. Poet, hero, comrade. You are commended and celebrated. Your talent shall not fade, nor shall your works grow old, age shall not bury you, nor every future time condemn. Happy birthday.
1. Paraphrase of Laurence Binyon’s “For The Fallen,” as quoted by Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 56.
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