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Political dichotomy

Thursday, 3 May 2018 at 21:21

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

John Dunn continues to read the opening to Campbell’s epic poem, Flowering Rifle.











The weed of Life that grows where air is hot
With “Meetings” for its aspidistral pot:
That leaves its labour to the hammering tongue
And grows, a cactus, out of hot-house dung:
A manual head-ache, fastened on a fist,
And fed with fumes of foul carbonic mist:
A vegetable cramp: a bolted clam
Whose grudging doors on life and daylight slam:
The “No” to life translated as “I Am,”
A Life-constricting tetanus of fingers
Under whose sign an outworn Age malingers,
While from its back the nails eat slowly through
For communists out-fakir the Hindu,
And hanker for stagnation thrice as vast
Where all must starve beneath the lowest Caste;


Strange to many in our own age, where Left v Right in reality means liberal v liberal, in his 1939 poem Cambell continues to define the only politicaldichotomy that counts. The stone is turned and he throws light upon the opposition, the other, the holder of the raised clenched fist.

Choose the clenched fist and sub-human forms will thrive in a climate from which the oxygen necessary to human life has been excluded.

The clenched fist veils a tetanus of fingers, redolent of the filmy filth, disease, decay and stagnation of the Hindus.

Undertheclenched fist, all will be reduced to an existence in the putrefaction and squalor of the lowest Caste - there to starve.

© John Dunn.

Diestro

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

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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