“Law, Like Love“ by W.H. Auden

“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.”
Albrecht Dürer, "Melancolia I"

Albrecht Dürer, “Melancolia I”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Law, Like Love“ by W.H. Auden

  1. lampmagician says:

    Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    “Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
    Law is the one
    All gardeners obey
    To-morrow, yesterday, to-day. ♥♥♥

  2. Love the print by Durer. Lots of occult symbolism woven into that one.

  3. Maria F. says:

    What a great poem, I love:

    “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.”

    I suppose he’s talking about laws being invented by humans to conceal their own imperfections so as to “cover-up” the predisposition to human tragedy and catastrophe; all thrown in the hands of humans as rulers of destiny guided by an external force beyond their comprehension and control. (I’m not that good interpreting poems, but those are my 2 cents).

    • I really love your take on this stanza, Maria. I also believe in this external force beyond our comprehension and control – one that eludes all our attempts to regulate it.
      Thank you for this.

  4. herongrace says:

    Must admit it’s a word that gives my ratbag Uranus the heebie jeebies! I love the Durer too. He really has captured beautifully Saturn’s heaviness.

    • Funny you should mention that because I chose this poem precisely to work through the current transit of Uranus in square to my Saturn. Great intuition – thank you.

      • herongrace says:

        Yes. I could perceive old man Saturn’s influence here. He does help out if you can get him on side.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s