Some say the devil’s dead, the devil’s dead, the devil’s dead;
some say the devil’s dead and buried in
Others say he’s rose again, others say he’s rose again;others say he’s rose again, apprenticed to a barber.
SCENE: Inside an old inn.
Villagers are seated at tables, talking and laughing. Jack the middle-aged keeper serves behind the bar (right of stage) and his daughter Bess collects glasses and chats with the customers. There are subdued sounds of a storm outside and often rain is blown against the inn’s windows (back of stage). The old inn door (also back of stage) bursts open to admit Arthur, a well-bearded fisherman, and the sound of the wind howling. Arthur struggles to close the door, then removes his sodden overcoat and hangs it on a stand just inside the door, before walking slowly to the bar, greeting people he recognises as he passes the tables.
Arthur: A foul night, Jack.
Jack: Aye, Art, ’tis filth.
Arthur: The Devil’s work, I’d say.
They just brought in a boat, she hit the rocks on Beezel’s Bay.
Jack: Not one of ours?
Arthur: Nay, one I never saw, called Summer Breeze.
Jack: She don’t sound sturdy for a storm. A pint?
Arthur: Aye, if y’please.
I heard young Ned, the lifeguard, say, no bodies was on board,
I’d wager they’re
way, more souls
for Satan’s hoard. Cold
Jack: Aye, some folks say, the Devil’s dead and buried deep down there.
Arthur: ’Tis true.
Jack: But if he’s dead, then how’s he workin’ rain and air?
Arthur: He’s hauntin’, Jack, his spirit’s with us, though he sleeps below.
Ah, evenin’ Bill.
Bill: Hello there, Art. One more, Jack, ’fore I go.
Jack: So what’s your thinkin’, Bill, this storm, the Devil haunts the sea?
Bill: He haunts? You think the Devil’s dead?
Jack: ’Tis Art says that, not me.
Bill: Aye, that’s the story fisherfolk hold dear, when storms come through,
they hear his voice in howlin’ winds, in’t so, Art?
Arthur: Aye, ’tis true.
Bill: But others say, the Devil rose from death and came ashore,
he’s ’prenticed to a barber now, sweeps hairs from off the floor.
Arthur: ’Tis prattle, Bill – why’d Satan choose a barber, of all types?
Jack: Perhaps he likes that pole, y’know, the white an’ blood-red stripes.
Bess: That may be, Father, for they used to bloodlet, days gone by,
do surgeries, take teeth, e’en put a leech upon your eye!
Jack: What, leeches? Nay, Bess, you’ve been readin’ nonsense books again.
Bess: ’Tis my encyclopaedia.
Jack: Look – glasses! Ern and Gwen!
She’s always at that book of hers.
Bill: She’s right about the leech,
the takin’ teeth as well, enough to make you shout an’ screech!
If I was Satan, then I reckons, that’s the life I’d lead,
instead of lyin’ out at sea, all dead and wrapped in weed.
Arthur: Well, each his own, but if you knew the ocean, all its might,
and seen a corpse come shoreward, blue and bloated, ghastly sight,
well, then you’d see, ’tis Devil’s work.
Bill: I reckon that I would,
though bein’ a barber’s boy, and leechin’, that still sounds quite good.
Jack: Perhaps the Devil’s harboured and apprenticed, takes two forms.Bess: Aye, daily doin’ surgeries, but nightly makin’ storms!
* * *
Here is the Poem of the Month for February, originally published on the official Happenstance website <(:-)
And here are the P-i-R's notes: