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The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Written by: Rudyard Kipling | Biography
 | Quotes (67) |
 1919

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
Make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
'eering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
Ne were living in trees when they met us.
They showed us each in turn That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly bum: 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 Manlund.
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.
Nith 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 S we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measurres were forming They pr@omised 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 Heading said: "Stick to the Devil yox 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 wer@e 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 Pr@ogress began -- That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mice, 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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