“The Gods Of The Copybook Headings”


Written by a man who was renowned for both all his written work, from novels, and stories, to poetry. The more I read of his wordsmithery (is there such a word, there should be) the more I find to enjoy.
Sadly, in the case of the above, he appears to be somewhat prophetic. Though perhaps it is little more than the ever more elusive quality, called common sense. Or at the very least, “learned wisdom from previous generations”.

So, prophetic or common sense, Read on, and you decide.

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 Gorilas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither clud 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 worshiped the Gods of the Market Who promiced these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promiced 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 promiced the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbor 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 selective 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.’

The the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tounged wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to belive 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!

5 Comments

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5 responses to ““The Gods Of The Copybook Headings”

  1. First comment got shredded, I think…

    “… and the men lost reason and faith.”

    The first was scarce and the second was rapidly dwindling. Both have evaporated like water in a hot skillet.

    Beautiful imagery when Stilton and flying pigs can be mentioned in short order like that.

    Let’s hope that pendulum swings back a bit, away from the “prophetic” area.

  2. Also, knowing what you read, you are doubly expected to visit. Anyone who reads Kipling is all right.

    • It has been quite some time since I really delved into Kipling. Or any number of others. But there will be books and such heading south with me come the spring, and I am sure at least one of his tomes will find their way to warmer climes.
      And I have not forgotten your kind and generous offer. You are the one stop going in the other direction I plan on making before I take off.
      And IRT the pendulum swinging back. I would like to agree with you. But one wonders if the evil which needs to be battled, has not wizened up and flat out stolen said pendulum. I think we have one more shot at the ballet box affecting change….if that doesn’t work. May God have mercy on us all.

      • Absolutely stop by. We love company that loves to hang out and talk and doesn’t mind occasional periods where people sit quietly, thinking. It is all good.

        You are probably right about the ballot box, but I think the liberals have shown so much of their true colors that there is a chance of imprinting memories. You would think looking back at Dems, neocons, and Carter would have been good lessons, but… no.

  3. Hell, Carter was in office better than 40 years ago. His legacy is impacting us and the world even today. We should have brought Iran to it’s knees back then. Now we reap a bitter harvest world wide.

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