Tag Archives: poem

Poetic Injustice

Update 2020

I have been inspired by the sheer brass neck of late 19th C/early 20th C legal historian C.S. Kenny in writing a book which JUST HAS NO CONCLUSION.  No sign off – just stops dead! (CS Kenny, The History of the Law of England as to the effects of marriage on property and on the wife’s legal capacity (London, Reeves and Turner, 1879).

I always struggle with a conclusion – which may say something about the rather over-ambitious or amorphous nature of the topics I seem to choose, or (as I prefer to think of it) it may suggest that not all writing needs a conclusion of the sort which, after C.S.K.’s time, became de rigeur.

It strikes me that that structure is very stereotypically ‘academic macho’ – here’s my point, I’m going to stick to it, there, wasn’t I right? Perhaps it’s time to look at things differently – and, yes, I know I’m messing with the etymology, but what about a more cyclical style – a ‘womanuscript’, if you will …


It may be that it will be viewed

As lacking in style, rather crude

Not to end things just so

With some show off bon mot

But too bad, I choose not to conclude.




2017: OK, I admit it: this is not Legal History. Probably not even legal, come to that… But I feel moved by the spirit of New Year to post this fine example of intellectual endeavour. Don’t think the LQR is going to want it.

Bird bath

Thrushes rush in, wrens seem keen

and sparrows splash around together,

But will they really get me clean

and do they like Imperial Leather?




Having another poetic moment – feeling the pain of my final year students … this is for them


Life unexamined:

easily sneered at by those

not sitting finals.



This, apparently, was found stuck to the door of a church in Germany …

Martin L.: the Augustinian Brother who could Do No Other


A Diet of Worms caused constipation

till his guts experienced  Reformation.

He objected to indulgences but still grew stout;

shacked up with a nun, chucked celibacy out;

wrote hot hit hymns, and cool translations

and tied himself in knots over consubstantiation.

His views on Jews can’t be overcome:

he had 95 theses: but tolerance wasn’t one.



And this is a genre of poetry which will surely catch on: the modern observation linked to a medieval law-text …

Bracton’s Sister’s Distant Descendant in the Gym Changing Room

That law of persons bit in the old book,

sorting by status (and taking the odd swerve

through hermaphrodites and the nature of belts)

somehow missed out a key division:

the one between people who,

when they see you post-swim,

half dried and standing on one leg,

correcting the inside-outness of your knickers,

can wait a moment to get to their locker,

which you are, inadvertently blocking,

and those who

Excuse Me!