Today’s sonnet is, in fact a tribute to Turkish coffee, and was one of the drafts I had floating about the top of my post list, spoiling my view. My sweet wife laughed aloud when, after first telling her what the project was to be, I subsequently read her the result. I did warn her that it was quite severe considering the subject matter at hand. Her first coherent words were: “Celebrate the moments of your lives!” followed by another round of laughter. Continue reading
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
- 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.
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!
At last, the dawn, in perfect form, I see
So formed, a positive reality.
Its purple state, its perfect choir, unveil
To shine, inspiringly, its song on me.
With form, and measure never void, it brings
A subtle mastery of the world it sings.
Without abash, I hear it tell a tale
Of majesty, and many more such things
Which burn with glory’s power, as they shine
Upon this shadow dappled world of mine.
My dreams are splendour, as they dance–prevail
With measure, and with form, and perfect line!
And dance I shall, as light–as mirrors bright
Reflect–avails, ’til dark, ’til death, ’til night!
This is the opposite number,
Perhaps even diametrically opposed; a polar opposite
But still consistent in form.
Then in beauty and truth, the believers,
Lo!… Shall behold as you conjurers burn.
Though our innocence used as a weakness,
Still… in the end it has helped us prevail;
Although twisted to apathy’s bleakness,
‘Til… we invited your jealous betrayal.
But the Knights of the Copybook Headings
Show… that our apathy caused you to win;
We will never forget that beheadings,
Though… were the wages of this kind of sin.
That you dogs had your day, none may qualm. It’s
Sure… but they’ve chased you back into the mire;
So, return to your pestilent vomit,
Or… we will cast you back into the fire.
I wanted to see it:
It was what I desired to become
Shall I Dare Hope that…
So we live in a world that is better
Thus… and we live as all men ought to be.
It was done without deigning to fetter
Us… They have done it by setting us free.
And while man, a creator of beauty
Will… be compensed that his beauty may bloom;
But, the man who makes ugliness duty
Still… gains employment (by pushing a broom.)
And a man who will strive to build greatness,
Too… Shall be striven his greatness to build.
While his ugliness, failure, and hate, thus,
Who… shall be swept into labour, unskilled.
Run in fear! All is lost! You deceivers!
Know… The Romance, of these Knights, does return!