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Roy Campbell (Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell) Biography

(1901–57), (Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell), The Flaming Terrapin, Voorslag, The Wayzgoose, Adamastor, The Georgiad, Flowering Reeds

south african poems terrapin

South African poet, born in Durban, South Africa; he fought in the First World War, having succeeded in joining the South African infantry at the age of 15, and arrived in England in 1918. In 1924 his reputation as a poet was established by The Flaming Terrapin; the work, in 1,400 rhymed lines, allegorically celebrates the principle of vitality, emblematized by the terrapin, and is characterized by the abundant energy of its natural imagery. In 1926 Campbell returned to South Africa, and founded the satirical magazine Voorslag (lit. ‘Whiplash’) with William Plomer. The Wayzgoose, his poem attacking the South African intelligentsia, appeared in 1928. During the early 1930s he lived in Provence and engaged in bullfighting. Adamastor (1930), containing some of his best South African poems, was followed by The Georgiad (1931), a humorously offensive diatribe in verse against the Bloomsbury Group. The poetry of Flowering Reeds (1933) was marked by a more contemplative tenor. Having become a Roman Catholic in 1935, his enthusiasm for religious ritual was indicated in the verse of Mithraic Emblems (1936). He fought for General Franco in the Spanish Civil War and espoused fascist values in the long poem Flowering Rifle (1939). He was, however, fully prepared to serve against Hitler with the King's African Rifles until invalided out in 1944. A Collected Poems was published in three volumes in 1949, 1957, and 1960, the third of which is devoted to his distinguished translations, principally of French and Spanish poetry. He died in a motor accident in Portugal. He published two volumes of autobiography, Broken Record (1934) and Light on a Dark Horse (1951), which tend to project a romanticized view of himself as a man of action. Peter Alexander's biography of Campbell appeared in 1952.

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