Born an only child, staking a fresh claim,
New life far from his father’s native land.
Freedom’s song echoed deep in him, a flame
Lighting the road appointed beforehand.
Justice called his name, from schoolyard to bench.
He turned his mind to law, memorizing
Line upon line, with thirst he could not quench;
In due time, kings and nations advising.
Anguished by cruel and raw philosophy,
Words that stand written wadded up, thrown down;
He spoke hard truth, quite nearly prophecy—
“Ad fontes!”—and was called out as a clown.
“Words truly live when documents are dead;
Meaning’s fixed mark is study’s only aim,
The woven past an ever-present thread.”
Classroom to courtroom, his refrain the same.
Truth and order drove his faith in the law,
Great leveler of heroes, villains, all
Ordinances grounded on rock not straw,
Flow from One Judge. He answered to that call.
Dissent became his firebrand, though not
For its own sake. Foolishness earned his wrath
Wherever righteousness was left unsought.
Few dared draw his ire on the warpath.
Even so, those he fought admired him,
Those flaming arrows a badge of honor,
His depth, wit, and gusto inspired them
To lose well when their case was a goner.
He has left today, old and full of years.
A republic mourns, a people fret, for
He was too often alone in his fears
That this great land had been struck to its core.