Law like love

av W.H. Auden.

"Den gode samaritan" av Jacopo Bassano.


Law, say the gardeners, is the sun, Law is the one All gardeners obey Tomorrow, yesterday, today.


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 severly, Law is as I've told you before, 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 saw 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.

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