The Laws of God, The Laws of Man

A.E. Housman’s Original:

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 most 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 neighbor to their will,

And make me dance as they desire
    With jail and gallows and hellfire
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 flee
    To Saturn or to Mercury
Keep we must, If we can
    These foreign laws of God and man.

My version:

The laws of God, the laws of man
    May all discern who will and can
And find that God’s grace sets one free
    From laws that tutor you and me;

Grace teaches care as His heart cares,
    And bids us share as His love shares,
Where man’s law would but judge, condemn,
    and favor these, or those, or them.

Love God; do what you please, I say
    For He loves, and won’t look away.
He always has and always will,
    Though men won’t see; feel they must still

Make you to dance as they desire
    With jail and gallows and their ire
God’s law is love; what are the odds
    God won’t obey a law that’s God’s?

If you, a stranger and afraid
    Love in this world that God has made
He’ll help you master right and wrong;
    Though weak and foolish, you’ll be strong

And then your soul will someday flee
    To God’s own home, eternity
So keep we must, if we but can
    This law of love for God and man.

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