Justice


All men have sought you: they have found you

more evasive than a lover,

more elusive than a god.


We conceive you in our contemplated image, 

construct you in our favoured carnal form,

yet fail to invest in you the breath of life.

We grant to you such loft and measure 

as draws our vision up and up to God,

yet fix on you such blind cold judgment

as casts our spirit down and down to dust.


To serve our fondest dreams and dearest gods

we weave the fabric of the common law,

and cast above its temple a graven image

whose limbs stretch out across the earth.

Arms not to welcome, nor to bless,

hands that cannot touch, cannot caress

cast in rigid crucifix position:

an image of uncompromising death.


With all the self assurance of your age

you raise aloft the sword of judgment;

scales of truth you hold in perfect balance

despite the residue of fowl and foul air.

No elements, stray measures of emotion,

or mercy of god or man 

can disturb the tension there

or turn it to imbalance or despair.

You stand astride our universe

mid-way between the city and the state,

gold against the royal blue of space,

imperiously surveying all the world.


As men have made you, there you rise

above the burlesque of our lives;

a towering image cast alone,

blind and cold upon your dome.


Oh, formal golden presence in the sky!

Aloof, unmoved, unmoving.

You are at once our gilded promise,

and our lie.

 © Philip Knight 2018