The Pickering Post
Thursday, 25th May 2017

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Harry Richardson

Harry Richardson is a long-time student of Islam and author of best seller, "the Story Of Mohammed - Islam Unveiled', http://thestoryofmohammed.blogspot.com.au

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THE GODS OF THE COPYBOOK HEADINGS


I’ve never done this before, and I’ll probably never do this again, but I’m going to share a poem with you. I’ve never been much of a poetry fan. I don’t know why but it just never seems to speak to me as it should. I kind of prefer people to tell it straight. This one poem is the exception.

It was written by Rudyard Kipling. Like generations of children, I was enthralled by The Jungle Book (and the movie of the same name) and other children’s tales he wrote. Later, I was amazed by the story of his incredible, yet tragic life (he was reputed to have politely declined both a knighthood and the title of Britain’s Poet Laureate).

It wasn’t until far more recently however that I came across this poem, quite by accident. I can’t understand why it isn’t much more famous (the conspiracist in me is however, deeply suspicious).

I found it so inspiring that I printed it out and taped it on to the wall in the smoko room next to where I sat for lunch. As I was writing my book on the computer I would often stop and read it through.

No matter how many times I read it, I can’t get to the end without breaking out in goose bumps.

The poem is about what Kipling calls “the Gods of the Copybook Headings.” In nineteenth and early twentieth century England, school children were issued with “copybooks.” These were like exercise books but each page had a heading. The children were required to copy the headings underneath to practise their writing skills (you may have heard the expression “blotting your copybook”).

The headings were based on Old Testament proverbs and Ten Commandments type morality; basic concepts such as truth, honesty, and fair dealing. Some of these are enshrined in the poem itself.

Kipling compared these to the kind of flim flam, feel good ideas spouted by charlatans in the market place. He was referring to ideas such as tolerance, social justice (how is that different to ordinary justice?) and re-distribution of wealth, which today we might call “progressivism.”

In this poem, Kipling foresaw the decline of the empire. Somehow, I think it is every bit as relevant today as it was when Kipling wrote it.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race, I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place. Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn that Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn: But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind, So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace, Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place; But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come that a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch, they denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace. They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease. But when we disarmed, they sold us and delivered us bound to our foe, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know”.

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife) Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death”.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die”.

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four — And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

******************************

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: — That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!



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Comments

OT -

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I have always thought of history as a sort of endless tape that repeats its self over & over. Re reading Kipling here has change that view to history being a sort of endless chess game that watchers like the Kipling's of the world read the moves & warn of the outcome. Readers are not confined to the august like Kipling old & young men & women, babies & sages all in their time, warn & foretell, we or the like of we, for the most part ignore them.

IF. Rudyard Kipling.

I've been reading a bit since you posted this, Harry because it got me thinking that perhaps a different slant could be put on the imperialistic, colonial, racist - branded attitudes of the 1900s....a bit like the outcry over the stolen generations when we can now see what happens to children in some communities when the children are left in there, subject to abuse, neglect and worse treatment. Here is another Kilpling work: White mans' burden which was panned at the time for being racist, imperialistic, patronising etc....written for the US president to sway him in annexing the Phillipines


The cartoonist William H. Walker ridicules the colonial hypocrisy inherent to “the white man's burden”. (Life magazine)
The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands (1899)

Take up the White Man's burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's burden, In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit, And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden, The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden, No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper, The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark[13] them with your living, And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
"Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden, Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden, Have done with childish days—
The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood, through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!

A good quote I read recently was "Back in 1914-1918, a safe space for 18-22 year olds was called a trench"

(cont) The men of my own stock,
Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father's belief
And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf--
And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children's teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.

www.poetryloverspage.com\poets\kipling\kipling_ind.html Complete Poetry works of RK on this site, including the Politically Incorrect ones such as this:

The Stranger

The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk--
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock,
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy or sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control--
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own s

The only thing you can really count on is Human greed and selfishness, it's called Human Nature. It's what turns socialism into a joke, no one wants to give more than they receive, the worst thing about a socialist is they actually lie to themselves.

Go the Don !

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Kipling wrote the poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" in 1919, after he had lost his son in the first world war. This was one of the most tumultuous periods in world history. The war had ended on November 11, 1918, and the war-related traumas of death and destruction, combined with the outbreak of the great Spanish flu epidemic between 1918 and 1920 (which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide), had left the people dazed, and desperate for some sort of deliverance.

Pacifism become popular, patriotism unpopular, and religious beliefs and their attendant morality had suffered a serious setback. Jesus' statement on the cross "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" was reinterpreted to mean "What sort of God would allow this to happen?". This lead to a generalized rejection of traditional morality and social values among large numbers of people, especially the national elites.

The first Russian revolution had deposed the Tsar in 1917, and many people began to look towards Marxist socialism as the ultimate solution to the world's problems. It made sense at the time. Marxist socialism had never been tried on a large scale before. It's emphasis on rationalism and the rejection of God and his attendant religious values appealed to the educated elites who tended to resent religion as an imposition that interfered with their own pursuit of "happiness".

Marxist socialism appealed to the lower strata of society as well. Socially acceptable hedonism combined with "free money" from the state would appeal to everyone except those who clung to religion as their source of solace and social cohesion!

The massive failures of all the great socialist experiments lay well in the future. Communism (international socialism) and Fascism (national socialism) were in their infancy, and Nazism (racially defined national socialism) in Germany arose as an outgrowth of Fascism after 1919. Progressivism, which advocates the gradual replacement of traditional democracy with socialist values and laws began in the US in 1912 with the election of Theodore Roosevelt.

The zeitgeist of the day therefore became a stew of Marxism and the abandonment of traditional values by a sexually liberated "popular culture" (think the "roaring twenties") in many of the most prosperous countries.

It was against this background that Kipling wrote his poem, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings". He was well ahead of his time in doing so. Kipling recognized that the abandonment of the morals and values that created the British empire would lead not only to the downfall of the empire itself, but the eventual downfall of the civilization that it had created. A people who had abandoned their moral values would eventually abandon each other. They would abandon honesty, and without honesty there would be no reason to trust anyone else. Without sexual morality, the traditional social contract based on trust between the sexes would vanish, and the people would eventually abandon marriage. Without marriage, the family, the most basic unit of any civilization would wither and die. Money would become the holy grail, and people would stoop to any depths to get it. At the top, leaders would betray their institutions and their countries, impoverishing virtually everyone else to get rich themselves. At the bottom, gangs of thugs would roam the streets stealing anything of value.

Kipling knew that the abandonment of the values that built the civilization would lead to its destruction. He also knew that as the destruction settled in on the civilization, the old values would resurface, probably with a vengeance. This is the meaning of his poem, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings".

Poetic insight and prescience from Mr Kipling. None better. Thanks Mr Richardson.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch, they denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things." Harry I'm compelled to learn more;thank you for bringing this to my attention. One question though, the allusion to the Dutch lady? That lost me a bit.,

Thank you, Harry.

As Groucho Marx once said (referring to Shelley) 'They don't write that stuff any more'.

A dose of the classics never hurt anybody. Thank you Harry.

https://redgreenalliance.com/2016/02/11/political-correctness-the-postmodern-cult/

You forgot the god of government .

Thanks, Harry.

" When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, "

We've arrived ....

That is rather good. I take from that 'we should learn from history or to put it another way, once bitten twice shy. Of course politicians are too stupid to make the connection and are destined to repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat the mistakes of the past. Some are too stupid to have learnt a lesson from the past cue SHY.