[late 1952]

[To John Sutherland:]

Just a note to appreciate Roy Campbell's comments. I have to thank you for bringing my work to his attention. I have often said that of all contemporary writers he is the poet with the highest flight of imagination – so far ahead of Spender and MacNeice, et al. His 'Terrapin' and 'Flowering Rifle' left me breathless with excitement. Never before had the heroic couplet been so brilliantly sustained, and the imagery is beyond praise. I was introduced to his work by Squire of the 'London Mercury' when I was in England in 1924. I wanted very much to meet Campbell but our paths didn't cross. Some day perhaps. If you know his address convey my compliments to him, will you?

Pratt


Roy Campbell's comments
Campbell (1901-57), born in South Africa, lived much of his life in Europe, especially in Spain where he was a bull-fighter and served with General Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9). He published some ten or more books of poetry and several autobiographical works. Sutherland had sent him a copy of his Northern Review essay, the text of 'The Great Feud,' and Forbes' portrait of Pratt. Campbell had been greatly impressed, replying (in part) as follows:

I think Pratt is a very fine poet indeed. He can think and he uses the vernacular naturally to simplify complicated ideas by means of unusual images, whereas most moderns use an obscure literary jargon to disguise the excruciating triviality of the few apophthegms that serve them in the place of ideas. I was impressed as much by the portrait as by the poem and extract quoted. He has a very human and amusing face quite apart from being ornamental – and there is a great deal of humour in the work. I have ordered his books ... and am looking forward to reading his work in big chunks. His imagery is superb (quoted with permission of Campbell's literary executor, Francisco Campbell Custadio).

Sutherland had passed these comments on to Pratt.

His 'Terrapin' and 'Flowering Rifle'
Books of Campbell's poetry: The Flaming Terrapin (London: Jonathan Cape, 1924) and Flowering Rifle: A Poem from the Battlefield of Spain (London; Toronto: Longmans, Green, 1936).

Some day
Pratt finally met Campbell in November 1953. See the letters to W.A. Deacon, 29 October 1953 and Claire Pratt, 5 November 1953.