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Law Like Love Analysis

Author: poem of W.H. Auden Type: poem Views: 12

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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.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Law is like love. Despite the many interpretations about it, we still can't give an exact definition. Also they're both different to each person.

| Posted on 2017-01-03 | by a guest

.: :.

It is quite intriguingi to consider the first lines and the last together.
Since at the beginning Law is put in connection with the Garden (Pardes)
and at the very end, as it happens in St. Paul, it is put in a \'messianic\' way, in connection with Love.
I think that here there is the possibility to look for a \'theological\' understanding of this poem.

| Posted on 2011-04-05 | by a guest

.: Law :.

It seems to be that the poem is divided in half; the first half, lines 1-34, present those who pretend to know what law is, and the second half, lines 35-60, present those who are honest and do not know what the law is. Auden could be implying that law is like love in that it must be; it can be found within human nature.

| Posted on 2008-03-27 | by a guest

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