That Ancient Prince of Hell
The Devil, whom some have said to be
a liar and murderer from the beginning,
is in the detail. He is in the detail, and the big
public lies. All 350 million of them.
350 million, and as many lies as there are people
in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and all the other hordes
about to pour into Barnstaple, or Sunderland,
or somewhere. The Devil knows it would be devilish,
that it would be in devilish poor taste to suggest
that someone who claims victory ‘without a shot
having been fired’ and then calls for firearms laws
to be relaxed, could possibly be anything
but a decent, ordinary man, a man of Birstall,
for instance, a shopkeeper of Batley, a woman
called Jo. The Devil is in the detail, and the big lie
and the private threat, and the half-truth;
he is in the double standard, the unearthed
video clip, the big red bus, and the promise
that blows like newsprint, winged rumour,
with perfect candour, gospel, gospel.
The Devil may or may not be registered
with the Electoral Commission. It’s in his
smile, it’s in his laugh, it’s in his kiss.
He may or may not have his son’s name down for
Eton, a place in the City, a Roaring Lionship;
he may or may not be a journalist, or an ex-
journalist. You will know him by his blaring
hypocrisy, but that is not illegal. Look for him
in the detail, in the breaking of obscure rules,
in the opinion of experts on difficult matters;
follow him by the scent of his money, listen
for the sound of gold and silver coin falling
bloodless, oh bloodless, oh bloodless to the ground.
Harry Smart was born in Dewsbury, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He went to school in Morley and Batley, then in 1974 to the University of Aberdeen. He has lived in Scotland since. He has published three books of poetry, Pierrot, Shoah, andFool’s Pardon, and one novel, Zaire. He lives in Montrose.