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Poem by Alfred Edward Housman


Last Poems. 12. The Laws of God, the Laws of Man


        The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbour to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of manТs bedevilment and GodТs?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.



Alfred Edward Housman


Alfred Edward Housman's other poems:
  1. More Poems. 25. Yon Flakes that Fret the Eastern Sky
  2. More Poems. 33. On Forelands High in Heaven
  3. Last Poems. 27. The Sigh That Heaves the Grasses
  4. A Shropshire Lad. 34. The New Mistress
  5. Additional Poems. 3. When Adam Walked in Eden Young


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