A.E. Housman
XII [The laws of God, the laws of man] (1922)
(from Last Poems)


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 manís bedevilment and Godís?


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.