About the time of the General Election Scotland on Sunday published my poem about the statue to the famous Scottish economist, Adam Smith. The poem rather lost its shape in the columns, so here it is.
The invisible hand
Royal Mile statue of Adam Smith by Alexander Stoddart
You must have had a natty tailor – that coat:
cuffed, collared and buttoned to perfection.
Your draped cloak softens it, protects from winds
of close and wynd. Those buckles must have cost
a bob or two as well, and your full wig.
Where you stand you can
almost see Kirkcaldy: cornerstone of character where
you learned the basics, built on them brilliantly;
where you saw men paid in nails, their work
a cannie commodity for barter.
That gaze hides much:
a soft heart, perhaps a nervous disposition.
More than likely you soldiered on with just
your widowed mother: there seems a touch
of melancholy in your stance.
But you were wedded
to debate, enlightenment; thrust your learning
through the engine of your diverse faculties, built
sound new theories – PolEcon we called it in the 60s.
You reasoned that hoards of gold, alone,
are no true measure
of a nation’s wealth; that Productivity and GDP
can measure Systems. Your Wealth of Nations,
that weighty bible of free market Capitalism, set out
the links: competition, self-interest, prosperity.
But you were also grounded
in Philosophy; wrote of Beauty, Order, Harmony;
of Good and Evil; knew the underpinnings of morality,
of faith. Your writing was plinthed on the invisible hand,
the hand that seeks the greatest good for all.
That plinth has gone now.
Would you be shocked? Would you be writing
a new treatise, re-defining Capitalism for this
Global era? You look east, well above our heads;
your vision still clear as a bell.
And the article by Shân Ross photograph by Andrew O’Brien