The Gods of the Copybook Headings | David Emeron: Sonnets

Since I have recently pushed out a humble sequel: The Knights of the Copybook Headings, I proudly offer up Rudyard Kipling’s Original:

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!

via The Gods of the Copybook Headings | David Emeron: Sonnets.

Long answer to RLK….

My!  All that from a short note (for me) on haiku!

Oddly striking in all of this: most of my poetry is freeverse, just not what I choose to publish.  Early on though, my sonnet writing began.  And, because I was emulating/idolizing great writers I most admired, and because my dearest loves it so, I began using (however imperfectly) Elizabethan and Early Modern English.  Even then, I found my way to more modern English.  You will see it here and there represented.  Older forms of English can be more difficult because of the syllabic changes in verb conjugations.  As such, modern English is rather more flexible which, of course, is why I use the more difficult form.  Besides the obvious, it’s the greater challenge.
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All this writing of reverse…

…Spenserians, I have finally (I think) ended the male body series with number ten, the last of which is a more or less standard Spenserian.

And, I believe perhaps, this is the one that causes me the most embarrassment.  I found myself blushing as I wrote this one–quite a comical picture, I may assure you.

To be sure, this was very definitely not the most embarrassing moment I have felt during this sonnet project.  I believe I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life as while writing the sequence which idolised me, myself, from the eyes and words of my sweet wife.  That was by far less theoretical, and hence, much, much more embarrassing.

Regarding the ending of the series, I say “I think” it is the last one in the series, because…  well… one never knows.  Embarrassing or not, it really is quite an intriguing subject, and does, from time to time, elicit moments of curiosity and reflection.

Even in cultures wherein such things were known quite openly to be commonplace, as in Ancient Rome, for example, there was still a bit of embarrassment among ordinary men regarding the subject.  Such things needed to be kept in proper perspective, after all!  Among the vast numbers of men–the great majority of which had no degree of unusual inclination or nature–even given that it might have been more common a subject at such times–such things would have been met with reticence, particularly when in the case of admitting such things personally. This kind of reticence spans all ages of the world, as far as I am able to discern, and even seems to be woven deep within our DNA perhaps, along with such inclinations as and of which we are capable.

And, of course, I am not speaking, or rather writing, of any of us less usual, such as today might be so labelled as one type or another.  Such people also were well known to those  as in my example of Ancient Rome.  Known and well understood, much as they are today, quite in contrast to the nature of the vast majority of us so glossed over, or perhaps, to re-purpose a common term of deconstruction: “marginalised.”

And…  I believe I have now said much more than I had at first intended, and certainly, even by Roman standards, far too much!!

A Viking limerick | Björn Rudbergs writings

A few days ago, I found myself, over dinner, telling a friend about these two.  So I thought, for his benefit, I’d dig them up. Bjorn wrote the following to a visual prompt:

Once was a heathenish Viking
Adored the fighting and striking
But when coming home
From a killing roam
Knitting was more to his liking

And I answered thus:

This Viking, was quite a go-getter,
And although he was colder and wetter,
While on his way home,
From the sacking of Rome,
He was glad he had knitted a sweater.

via A Viking limerick | Björn Rudbergs writings.