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This review is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

SOUTHERN WARMTH The Selected Poems of Roy Campbell, chosen by Peter Alexander (Oxford) £7.50

This selection of Roy Campbell's poetry is evidently intended to stress the lyric rather than the satiric side of his writing. The extended satires The Wayzgoose (1928), The Georgiad (1931) and Flowering Rifle (1939) are represented here only by brief extracts, as is The Flaming Terrapin, the ecstatic poem which opened Campbell's publishing career in 1924. Yet in that career the lyric and the satiric run parallel, for he made early attacks on the South African literary world from which first he emerged, and then escaped. Unlike his model, Pope, Campbell is never detached: 'My words, O Durban, round the World are blown/Where I, alone, of all your sons am known'.

Egotistically present in his own satires, Campbell is equally present in his lyrics, but in a different way, as the self-conscious poet struggling against the crowd and the world's indifference. His South African upbringing included a great deal of riding and hunting, and this early experience provided him with an unusual landscape and a distinctive bestiary to draw upon. This is from 'The Making of a Poet':


In every herd there is some restive steer
Who leaps the cows and heads each hot stampede,
Till the old bulls unite in jealous fear
To hunt him from the pastures where they feed.


This is the poet as romantic outcast, rejected by his elders and 'goaded by the fly-swarm through the day'. Campbell writes in the Romantic ...


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