Roy Campbell (poet)

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Roy and Mary Campbell (left), Jacob Kramer and Dolores (right), 1920s

Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell (2 October 190123 April 1957) was a South African poet, satirist and translator.


  • South Africa, renowned both far and wide
    For politics and little else beside.
    • The Wayzgoose, lines 3-4 (1928)
  • Translations (like wives) are seldom strictly faithful if they are in the least attractive.
    • Poetry Review (June-July 1949)

Sons of the Mistral (1926)

  • I love to see, when leaves depart,
    The clear anatomy arrive,
    Winter, the paragon of art,
    That kills all forms of life and feeling
    Save what is pure and will survive.
    • "Autumn," lines 1-5
  • Our spirits leaped, hosannas of destruction,
    Like desert lilies forked with tongues of fire.
    • "To a Pet Cobra," lines 23-24

Adamastor (1930)

  • The frost stings sweetly with a burning kiss
    As intimate as love, as cold as death.
    • "The Sisters," lines 13-14
  • The timeless, surly patience of the serf
    That moves the nearest to the naked earth
    And ploughs down palaces, and thrones, and towers.
    • "The Serf," lines 12-14
  • We shall not meet again: over the wave
    Our ways divide, and yours is straight and endless –
    But mine is short and crooked to the grave:
    Yet what of these dark crowds, amid whose flow
    I battle like a rock, aloof and friendless –
    Are not their generations, vague and endless,
    The waves, the strides, the feet on which I go?
    • "Tristan da Cunha," lines 97-103
  • With white tails smoking free,
    Long streaming manes, and arching necks, they show
    Their kinship to their sisters of the sea –
    And forward hurl their thunderbolts of snow.
    Still out of hardships bred,
    Spirits of power and beauty and delight
    Have ever on such frugal pastures fed
    And loved to course with tempests through the night.
  • Of all the clever people round me here
    I most delight in Me –
    Mine is the only voice I care to hear,
    And mine the only face I like to see.
  • You praise the firm restraint with which they write –
    I'm with you there, of course:
    They use the snaffle and the curb all right,
    But where's the bloody horse?
    • "On Some South African Novelists," lines 1-4

About Roy Campbell

  • Roy Campbell was one of the very few great poets of our time. His poems are of great stature, and have a giant's strength and power of movement. They have, too, an extraordinary sensuous beauty. Everything is transformed to greatness.
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