The Author A. E. Housman

The laws of God, the laws of man


    The laws of God, the laws of man,
    He may keep that will and can;
    Now 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 man’s bedevilment and God’s?
    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 or Mercury,
    Keep we must, if keep we can,
    These foreign laws of God and man.


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