From Brouhahas to Brehon Laws: Poetic Impulse in the Law
Author: Kleefeld, John C
Source: Law and Humanities, Volume 4, Number 1, June 2010 , pp. 21-61(41)
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Abstract:Over the ages and across the lands, poetry and the law have comingled in courtroom and classroom, debuted together in judicial decisions and dissents, and emerged as one in systems as diverse as the Courts of Equity and the law of the brehons—the poet-judges of ancient Ireland. Lyrical language and the poetic impulse have thus helped to inform, persuade, and advance the law.
Under the literary conceit of a time travel, the author considers the persistence of poetry in law, addressing the artistic expression of devotees and the commentary of critics. Manifestations of the poetic impulse include poetry as ornament to legal argument, judgments written in poetic form (hence the brouhahas), and the use in law of metre, metaphor, imagination, ambiguity, alliteration, and rhyme. The role of poetry in legal education, from Coke's Reports in Verse to law school haiku, is also traversed. Accompany the author on his journey through the legal ages and hear his case for a continued, albeit cautious, role for poetry-in-law.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2010-06-01
- Law and Humanities is a peer-reviewed journal, providing a for for scholarly discourse within the arts and humanities around the subject of law. For this purpose, the arts and humanities disciplines are taken to include literature, history (including history of art), philosophy, theology, classics and the whole spectrum of performance and representational arts. The remit of the journal does not extend to consideration of the laws that regulate practical aspects of the arts and humanities (such as the law of intellectual property). Law and Humanities is principally concerned to engage with those aspects of human experience which are not empirically quantifiable or scientifically predictable.
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