Wherever out of Abel to descend

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bloomcountry

Senior Member
Russian, Spanish
Although the title of the poem sets up a simile between Abel's offering to God (Genesis) and the Indian Michawago, the background and setting are the Spanish Civil War, where intellectuals from all over the world took sides for and against the official government of Spain, The Republic of Spain, that was being attacked by the coup d'etat leaded by Franco and supported by a few artists and poets like Roy Campbell on the basis of his fear of communism and his hate for atheism. Roy Campbell had been living in Spain right before the outbreak of the conflict and he still participated in the first minor battles trying to help the destruction of the Monastery of the Carmelites of Toledo right in the first month of the civil war. He abandoned Spain with his family in the fifth month of the conflict that lasted three horrible years. I do not get the gist or meaning of the last line since I am not sure of the use of "out":

This Bull by which we call each other ‘friend’
Shall link us round the earth from end to end
Wherever out of Abel to descend.


Roy Campbell: "To the Red Indian Michawago".
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I'm stumped. I almost think that "wherever out of Abel to descend" as a way of saying "wherever there are humans" (descendants of Abel), but isn't Abel a victim rather than an ancestor?

    Does "Bull" refer to a metaphorical bull or to a Catholic or Papal Bull, do you think?
     

    bloomcountry

    Senior Member
    Russian, Spanish
    Well, Bibliolept, I also thought that "Bull" could be a "papal bull" as Roy Campbell converted into Catholicism in Spain and he and his family became very reactionary catholics; but I also know that he was very fond of bullfighting and he could even fight bull in the bullring; he also did it in the Provence (South of France) and in Toledo. for him, the bull is sort of a "divine" or "magic" animal... I am more astonished than you both
     

    kitenok

    Senior Member
    Hi bloom,

    In the only online version of the poem I could find, the line is "Wherever out of Abel we descend" (link).

    There is a lot of imagery in the poem having to do with ranching, herding, etc., which is opposed in Campbell's universe to the evil "Charlies." The image of Abel is part of all this ranching/herding imagery. Cain was a farmer; Abel was a shepherd. One of the traditional readings of the Genesis story is that Cain murdering Abel is an allegory for the triumph of agriculture over herding in human pre-history. In this poem, I would say that Campbell positions himself as the martyr-herder-descendent-of-Abel and, consequently, positions the bad guy Charlies as the murderers-farmers-descendents-of-Cain.
     
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