Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 17 December 2005

The Devil’s Own Song and Other Verses (1968) by Quintin Hogg

The Devil’s Own Song and Other Verses (1968) by Quintin Hogg

The Devil’s Own Song and Other Verses (1968)
by Quintin Hogg

Yes, that Quintin Hogg, Lord Hailsham of Woolsack fame. ‘Quite suddenly, during the summer of 1940, my personal and emotional situation was such that I felt an irresistible urge to write short lyrics,’ he says in the introduction. ‘I cannot explain this. I had not then, and have not now, any swollen-headed ideas about my quality as a poet … Somewhere about 1963, whatever little rill of inspiration I had, dried up.’ To say that this was a Good Thing seems a little unfair, but the poems are by any standard naive:

The gift returns not to the giver
Nor the spoken word to the tongue
Nor upward flows the river
Nor yet may the old be young.

The title poem is written from the point of view of the Devil, speaking to Jesus on the cross. One suspects that by giving it also as the title of the collection Hogg wished to suggest that he, Hogg, was a bit of a devil himself.

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