Poetry of the Bench and Bar: The Things That Lawyers Know About Earth Day

Poetry of the Bench and Bar: The Things That Lawyers Know About Earth Day

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we at the Harris County Law Library are featuring a new law-related poem each Friday in April. With today's selection, The Law the Lawyer's Know About by Hilary Douglas Clark Pepler, we recognize Earth Day (April 22).

Pepler's lack of faith in lawyers' understanding of nature is counterbalanced by the work of poet and lawyer William Cullen Bryant. Bryant embraced "natural law," drawing both poetic and moral inspiration from the natural world. He was also inspired by human reason, viewing it as a universally recognizable determinant of the rights and values that bind society and check human behavior.

Bryant's philosophy of morality and human conduct stands in direct contrast with the thoughts of Hilary Pepler. As expressed in the words below, Pepler gives lawyers little credit for their appreciation of nature in the biological/organic sense or as an expression of humanity or morality. His romantic appreciation of the observable world allows no room for nature in the construct of written laws: 

The things that lawyers know about,
Are property and land.

But why the leaves are on the trees;
And why the waves disturb the seas;

Why honey is the food of bees;
Why horses have such tender knees;

Why winters come when rivers freeze;
Why faith is more than what one sees;

And hope survives the worst disease;
And charity is more than these ...

They do not understand.