Rudyard Kipling, The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The Gods of the Copybook Headings (edited for brevity)

Rudyard Kipling

 

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.

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,

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;

 

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