Ode to a Pew

Distinguished law professor, Dean Emeritus M. Leigh Harrison (1907-1997), makes a point during Contracts Class only a few years before I wrote this poem in the very same front “pew” shown in this photo that I was astonished to find online. The ancient solid oak pews were covered in the carved graffiti of decades of use and just wide enough for two aspiring lawyers to occupy with a slant board attached to the back of the pew in front for taking notes. Photo was taken about 1970 by Pat Graves, now a retired Huntsville lawyer, who posted it on the University of Alabama Law School website on the occasion of Dean Harrison’s induction into the Alabama Lawyer’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

With apologies to all my lawyer friends…

I’ve decided to leaven all the long-form posts I’ve either posted or have in the pipeline with occasional poems from my 1998 compilation, “Ups and Downs”. I called it that because they chronicle so well the highs and lows of the middle years – from 1974 to the late 90s – which included law school and the first two decades of my New York adventure. And, as they are arranged in chronological order in the book, I’m starting at the top and will work my way through.

This one, the first, was the result of several factors: it was the second semester of my first year of law school and 1) I had just pulled an all-nighter and 2) was sitting front and center in 3) a 9:00 a.m. “Contracts 102” class on “third-party beneficiaries” being taught by 4) a distinguished former Dean of the law school, so that I, 5) had to look at least like I was paying attention and taking notes. By the end of the class, this had landed on my legal pad:

Reading the Law 

The chair whereon I sit is but a pew
That on one look tells tales of quite a few
Whose derrières have spread themselves abroad
While minds above contracted to defraud
Debase, defame, delight in monies made
In consequence pursuant to the trade
For pedagogue of which was first designed
This seat that, for the moment, takes my mind
From strict attention to Socratic babble
Twixt learnéd Dean and an assorted rabble
Who, in idyllic notion of the Bar,
I had assumed would never get this far!
Yet here we sit, ensconced in Gothic couches
That someday we might fill our money pouches!

— Written in the spring of 1975

© 2018 George Thomas Wilson, all rights reserved.

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