Guest poem sent in by Aseem Kaul
(Poem #1502) Law Like Love
Law, say the gardeners, is the sun, Law is the one All gardeners obey To-morrow, yesterday, to-day. Law is the wisdom of the old, The impotent grandfathers feebly scold; The grandchildren put out a treble tongue, Law is the senses of the young. Law, says the priest with a priestly look, Expounding to an unpriestly people, Law is the words in my priestly book, Law is my pulpit and my steeple. Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose, Speaking clearly and most severely, Law is as I've told you before, Law is as you know I suppose, Law is but let me explain it once more, Law is The Law. Yet law-abiding scholars write: Law is neither wrong nor right, Law is only crimes Punished by places and by times, Law is the clothes men wear Anytime, anywhere, Law is Good morning and Good night. Others say, Law is our Fate; Others say, Law is our State; Others say, others say Law is no more, Law has gone away. And always the loud angry crowd, Very angry and very loud, Law is We, And always the soft idiot softly Me. If we, dear, know we know no more Than they about the Law, If I no more than you Know what we should and should not do Except that all agree Gladly or miserably That the Law is And that all know this If therefore thinking it absurd To identify Law with some other word, Unlike so many men I cannot say Law is again, No more than they can we suppress The universal wish to guess Or slip out of our own position Into an unconcerned condition. Although I can at least confine Your vanity and mine To stating timidly A timid similarity, We shall boast anyway: Like love I say. Like love we don't know where or why, Like love we can't compel or fly, Like love we often weep, Like love we seldom keep.
In response to Michelle's call for poems about lawyers and the law, here's one of my favourite Auden poems. Aside from the usual Auden brilliance (the tone so nonchalantly conversational, the seemingly endless ability to carry on with a single metaphor) this poem has always been special to me for three reasons. First, that unlike many Auden poems this one comes to its "timid similarity" right at the very end, so that having chuckled through the poem once you are almost compelled to go back to the beginning and read it through again, this time replacing Law with Love and realising how truly brilliant the comparison is. Second, that it's a poem that cries to be read aloud - even reading it in one's head every stanza has it's own 'voice' creating an incredible impression of movement as one jumps breathlessly from one person's view--point to another's. And finally, for a gem of a last line - one that both makes you laugh and makes you want to cry with a terrible longing for our lost loves. In a poem that is otherwise fairly cheerful it introduces a note of honest grief, that lifts the poem above the merely clever. Aseem Kaul