Sunday, February 04, 2007

Law Like Love



It is oddly sunny and warm here in Awesome Part of the Country, bare-kneed weather, the swish of skirts marking each step with a sound more winsome than the plod-plod-plodding of winter boots. It is aberrant weather, and it's nice.

A beautiful distraction, for one who must not be distracted. I'm inside my apartment, my skirted legs hidden beneath the desk, and I am (was) doing something called "homework." Well, there is always work, and I usually do it at home, and I imagine that when I become a professor things won't change. I will always be reading and writing. But for now, as I am a student again, it is a different kind of work, on top of the usual article reading and writing. Cases, case briefs, precises, response papers, stat sets...you know, homework. I had a delightful conversation with Absurdedly Young Law Prof yesterday night, in which I told him that I almost resent that he is teaching classes while I am still taking classes. But all in due time. It is dues-paying time, and I got a tab. So it is okay. Young Law Prof paid his dues, is a few years ahead of me (very few), and deserves to be in the front of the classroom, and I'm where I belong, in the back of the classroom (actually the first row, what else could I be but an eager beaver?). But in the twain we meet, because as an LLM student I'm not longer a 1L, but then I'm not quite a law prof, so I guess my status is "would-be-colleague"--but hey, it's better than nothing.

Who cares about the Ides of March? Caesar? College basketball coaches? For my part, February is the cruelest month, breeding, not lilacs out of the dead land, but deadlines out of the overflowing syllabus. I have a self-imposed deadline this month for a significant chunk of my master's thesis, which I have scheduled the week after Valentine's day. I figure, if this hateful commercial holiday is going to spoil my mood, let it be for legitimate reasons of stress and work. Let me have to work so hard footnoting and bluebooking that I forget to check my mailbox for the card that is not there, or forget that there is no FTD florist buzzing my door. At least I live near an excellent chocolaterie and can buy the damned things myself. The law shall replace love, as it always does.

And then, damn it, W.H. Auden shows up, 34 years after his death, to tell me this truth, that I cannot escape love through the law, because law is like love.

Happy Early Valentines day. I'm for sure not going to mark the actual day with such bloggepfeffer, expect something on employment discrimination. I think it a cursed holiday, and this year (like in other years) I am Charlie Brown by the mail box, waiting for the Little Red Haired Girl to send me something. That is, if I wasn't upstairs, writing my thesis and eating Leonidas chocolates. Charlie Brown should have been a law professor.


Law Like Love


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 anyvay:
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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