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Wednesday, 2 May 2018 at 22:01

Flowering Rifle on Dr john Dunn. A recent journey through Andalusia reminded me of that poet of the Spanish Civil War - Roy Campbell.

These are the opening lines of Campbell’s gigantic epic poem, Flowering Rifle. About the Spanish Civil War yes, but also about the eternal struggle.

Against the bogus prophets of the Day
Chained to Corruption, Failure, and Decay,
What can I do but take the trampled sand,
Diestro by the Rightness of my hand,
Whose opening Palm, of Victory the sign,
Branched from the mesa with the Bread and Wine
By the same toil engendered as the grain
With many a million more, the Might of Spain,
With palms of triumph foresting the day
To wave the golden harvest on its way,
O which strong millions, strictly contraband,
I introduce this sample to a Land
Where all the sweet emoluments are thrown
To that snug, sinister, and bungling drone,
The fist-shut Left, so dextrous with the dirk,
The striker, less in battle than from work:

The open palm of the Right is contrasted with the closed fist of the Left.

The open palm is expanded into an image of openness, honest labour, spirituality and fecundity.

Cambell is so respectful of these qualities, that he almost feels ashamed to smuggle in his own literary labours in support of the Rightist cause

Neverthless, in this mood of contrition, he allies himself, and humbly offers his labours, to the cause of life.

In contrast, the closed fist serves well as the dark, constricting, airless image of that to which he is opposed in all its parasitical sterility.

© John Dunn.

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!

Posted by John Dunn.

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