We at the Harris County Law Library have enjoyed celebrating National Poetry Month. By featuring a new law-related poem every Friday in April, we’ve recognized the vital role of poetry in our lives, culture, history, and in the law, but as Geoffrey Chaucer said in Troilus and Criseyde, “All good things must come to an end.”
Before we conclude our celebration, we’re offering one more poem from the bench and bar, an exquisite illustration of the beauty of language, as well as the cleverness of the court. Written in the theme of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, this legal verse is worth reading in full. It is a truly inspired piece of poetry by one very eloquent judge, the Hon. A. Jay Cristol, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida. The poem is excerpted here from the case In re Love, 61 B.R. 558 (1986),
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
Over many quaint and curious files of chapter seven lore
While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door,
"Tis some debtor" I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this and nothing more."
Ah distinctly I recall, it was in the early fall
And the file still was small
The Code provided I could use it
If someone tried to substantially abuse it
No party asked that it be heard.
"Sua sponte" whispered a small black bird.
The bird himself, my only maven,
strongly looked to be a raven.
For more legal poetry, please look back at our Friday blog entries in April, especially The Calf Path or Precedents and Wills in Verse. And finally, for commentary on the role of legal levity, see Bons Mots, Buffoonery, and the Bench: The Role of Humor in Judicial Opinions by Lucas K. Hori, 60 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 16 (2012)