To be a bit more accurate, regarding poets in any case, a few such men have gone here before.
About me all reality doth spin,
The ground beneath my feet doth buck and twist,
My eyes alight on anything herein,
And will perceive its panic-worthy list.
And panic is the most confused of sound
Which swells and whirls around my pounding ears,
Confusing and directionless: its sound,
Exacerbating measureless: my fears.
Perceive I not the matter I may touch,
As whether hard or soft, or hot or cold.
Although such nature hardly matters much,
such things are all completely uncontrolled.
My digits, my appendages feel thick
I think I am most positively sick.
This strikes me somewhat
As a bit too Majorcan.
I must be slipping.
Ode to my virus?
Am I now losing my touch?
I dearly hope not!
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!
Doth, sylphidine, my poet walk the night.
Her nature, sybaritic; every wish
As spritely, and as sensuous a whim,
That, sibilant, depriveth of her sight;
The magic of her grace, her subtle flight.
Of flowery gifts, she writeth, she hath won;
Of sunsets, singeth she, luxuriant, warm;
And downy-cool, her mountaintops of white.
We shall, as loveth she, so never love;
Nor built we paradise, as hath she done.
Doth sleep our kingdom not upon the clouds,
Nor fortress, on such billows, dream above.
So vanquished she, as many, though but one;
She triumphed clear; yet had we only shrouds.
I spoke once of her
Away, on a winter’s night
Not so long ago….
Long ago, I heard,
Chanced by some unlikely place,
Hauntingly, her voice.