“The Gods of the Copybook Headings
The Gods of the Marketplace”

Spiritual (Morality)  vs.  Carnal (Hedonism)

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”
Matthew 24:35,  Mark 13:31,  Luke 21:33 ~

Once again, Glenn Beck has done it..!!.  No matter what your personal opinion or your political views are, you have to admit, this very controversial man gets people talking and THINKING!!!  I am not afraid to say, Glenn Beck “Inspires Me” on a daily basis!!  And he does it simply by provoking thought… and then saying, “Do NOT take my word for it! Go check it out for yourself!!”  Who does that???   Honestly, I can think of only two people in the public eye that do – Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh!   So, before I know it, I find myself doing just that.  Checking things out for myself!  Usually, after hours of scouring the Internet, reading, researching…  I come to the same or similar conclusions as what has been presented by Beck and the really amazing thing is that he does not take credit, want praise or any reward either.  Instead he just suggests that we “Look into ourselves” and find our conviction, our Faith, our resolve, our strength… to “Love” one another… and to “Give” of ourselves to others… which is the true definition of Love anyway!  He proclaims such controversial and politically-biased things, such as: “FAITH”, “HOPE” and “CHARITY”!  And THIS is why I feel INSPIRED and actually HOPEFUL again for the first time in a very long time!!!!

This time, all he did was read a poem!  It was an impassioned rendering, spoken with all the drama and intensity of a Shakespearean actor, but just a poem nonetheless.  A poem written in 1919, by a 53 year old British man (born in India) who had just recently lost his son in World War I and a daughter a few years earlier.  Some say this man was broken and had begun to question, if not lose, his faith.  He felt that the virtue had gone out of the classes which he idealized, the young people hedonistic and indifferent.  Imperialism, as he saw it, was a sort of forcible evangelizing.  This was during a time when his home, England, which had been strong and revered by the world, was now beaten, drained and nearly broken. He claimed no political affiliation, but identified with the ruling power, and was a Conservative.  Eventually though, he “sold out” to the British Ruling Class because he saw that they were not what he imagined them to be.  Very likely he was disillusioned by all these things and could find no comfort in either his country, politics or his religion.

This man was none other than, the (first) English Nobel Prize winner, world traveler, Free-Mason, Rudyard Kipling, a renowned writer of prose, poetry and stories. Probably known best as the writer of, “The Jungle Book”,  “Gunga Din”, “If”, and “The Road to Mandalay”, Kipling was once called by George Orwell, “the prophet” of  British Imperialism while in it’s expansionist phase and he was the unofficial historian of the (mercenary) British Army.  His mainstream writing career was short lived however, as he quickly became “unfashionable” as a writer.  Some (incorrectly) thought he was fascist, and many did not understand his writings and often misinterpreted or misrepresented him.  Although, he was generally regarded as callous, course and pessimistic, one cannot fail to be impressed with his genius, his insight, and almost prophetic view, of the world as it was then, as well as how things are today.

There are many who believe this currently popular poem entitled, “THE GODS OF THE COPYBOOK HEADING” depicts the differences between communism and capitalism, and it would seem that given the events of day when it was written by Kipling, that very well could be true.  However, beyond that, and more importantly in my mind, is the possibility that he was warning people of the perils of “losing faith”, not so much in regards to religion necessarily, but relating to what I choose to call a “HIGHER SPIRITUAL TRUTH”!  He was giving a “Wake Up Call” of sort, especially to those who, because of the “Fabian Socialism” (progressive) movement and the like, had “lost their morality”!  Was it was a call to the world’s inhabitants to “fix reason and logic firmly in it’s seat” and to “stand for something, or else we will fall for anything”??   

Whether you embrace traditional Christian beliefs as represented in The Holy Bible or you believe in a “God” known by another name or maybe even believe in a kind of spirituality and respect for life such as our Native Americans do —  All these “practices” have a basic Moral foundation, Respect for Life, belief that there is a Higher Purpose for us all, as well as a Greater or Higher Being or Creator who made us, and a basic code that we need to follow or live our life according to, or there will be natural, cosmic repercussions if we don’t!  Personally, I think this issue or dilemma is what Mr. Kipling was addressing in his poem.  It is that age-old and well known battle, between the Spiritual and the Carnal Being inside each of us, that we deal with on an every day basis in every aspect of our lives, including but not limited to politics, religion, morality, etc.  We were created in part, To Worship, to follow a path of some sort – And if not “God”, then something, some ideology or someone else!!!   (The Angel on one shoulder and the Devil on the other!)

Clearly, Mr. Kipling is telling us that although the lure of the “Carnal” (hedonistic) life may be strong and appears to be so bright, shiny and perfect – In the end, it always will fail and if we allow ourselves to become complacent and to be fooled and we follow that path that we imagine will lead us to that “pot of gold”, We Will Fall!!  Because, you see, “All That Glitters is NOT Gold”!!   Though the “Spiritual” (enlightened) path, the “road less traveled” or the “straight and narrow” may oftentimes seem quite boring and monotonous and lack luster comparatively, I believe, in the end, it will be evident that it was the road we were seeking all along!  

To have Conviction, To be True to ourselves, To do what we know is Right, To Love One Another and practice “No Harm To Others” and “Faith, Hope and Charity”… These are the truisms that will enable us to withstand anything that may come against us, IF we truly LIVE them!!  Plain and simply, only the TRUTH can and will stand in the end!!

But, this is just my opinion.  Please read “The Gods of the Copybook Heading” poem for yourself and then let me know what your thoughts and opinions are, I am interested!!!   Here it is…   Thanks!     ~ Bren ~

The Poem 

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

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 ice field, 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 wobbling 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!

~ Rudyard Kipling ~
October 1919
(First published in the Sunday Pictorial, October 26, 1919)

“Those who don’t stand for something, Fall for anything!”  

~Alexander Hamilton~ 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at in times of challenge and controversy…”

~Martin Luther King Jr.~

Gods of the Copybook Headings Vocabulary 
The poem is easier to analyze when you know what the terms mean that he uses and understand the way they relate to the time in which it was written and what events were taking place at that time

Copybook headings – Children in the schoolroom were instructed to use copybooks to practice their handwriting. At the top, there would be a perfect example of how to print something. On the printed lines below, the student would copy (replicate) the handwriting on the rest of the page as exact as possible

Stilton – Stilton is a British kind of cheese

Dutch – the Dutch were known for their cheese making

The Cambrian Measures – Are the part of the ocean that divides Britain from the rest of Europe

Feminian Sandstones – Stone used to originally build Pagan temples and later, Medieval churches

The Carboniferous Epoch – Commonly refers to period of time when mountain ranges were formed

Reference Links:
Background on Kipling by John Derbyshire
Rudyard Kipling’s The Gods of the Copybook Headings
Wolf Pangloss Kipling -The Gods of the Copybook Headings
The Life and Works of Rudyard Kipling
The Gods Of The Copybook Headings Analysis & Comments
Kipling on Wikipedia
The Gods of the Copybook Headings on Wikisource
“Rudyard Kipling” by George Orwell in 1942

Rudyard Kipling