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Roy Campbell, Toledo and the Spanish Civil War

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 21:41

Cambell's and Lee on Dr John Dunn. Left to right - Laurie Lee, Mary Campbell and Roy Campbell in Toledo, in front of the Alcazar, in 1935.

Roy Campbell, Toledo and the Spanish Civil War

A recent journey through Andalusia reminded me of that poet of the Spanish Civil War - Roy Campbell.

In this poem, Cambell wrote of the tragedy of Toledo, the holy city which was brutally attacked by Leftist forces in 1936.

The city was isolated and timeless, medieval, full of churches, monasteries, convents, and shrines. The old Fortress, the Alcazar, was destined to play a pivotal role in the eventual victory over Bolshevism.


Toledo, when I saw you die
And heard the roof of Carmel crash,
A spread-winged phoenix from its ash
The Cross remained against the sky!
With horns of flame and haggard eye
The mountain vomited with blood,
A thousand corpses down the flood
Were rolled gesticulating by,
And high above the roaring shells
I heard the silence of your bells
Who've left these broken stones behind
Above the years to make your home,
And burn, with Athens and with Rome,
A sacred city of the mind.

In another wave of Leftist attacks upon Toledo, the Alaczar was besieged. Inside were 1000 people, more than half of them women and children. Under the Command of Colonel Moscardo they held out until the city was relieved by Franco’s troops, despite being under continual bombardment, day and night. Campbell celebrated the epic act of heroism and martyrdom that made the Alcazar a shrine to this day.

The Alcazar Mined

The Rock of Faith, the thunder-blasted-
Eternity will hear it rise.
With those who (Hell itself out-lasted)
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!

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