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Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Kipling Food for Thought

A few days after my last post on Kipling I came across this poem on facebook.  Paul Mitchell, who blogs at Thoughts of a Regular Guy, posted this on his page, and so a hat tip to him for bringing this poem to my attention.

After I read it, I got to thinking that there are a lot of writers who are dead - and in most cases forgotten - who anticipated what is happening to us in the present.  Three come to mind: Rudyard Kipling, G.K. Chesterton, and Robert Hugh Benson.  Benson wrote a book called Lord of the World back in the early 1900's (I think 1906) which described the appearance of the AntiChrist on Earth.  The similarity between our current president and the AntiChrist in his book was striking.  Chesterton has written a lot on just about every subject, including issues with government.  Just this last weekend I gave a copy of one of his short stories (Queer Feet) to someone who had left the Church years ago.  The short story is about a crime, a death, a conversion, and some peculiar steak knives.  Here is the famous quote from it, which ended up in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited:

"I caught him with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread."

Speaking of steak knives, did anyone see the set of knives Pope Benedict XVI got in Lebanon?

 When my oldest brother got married back in 1985, I gave him a set of steak knives I got for free when I opened a J.C. Penney credit account.  I suspect that these knives are a lot nicer.....

....But I digress.  Here is a poem which should give us all food for thought:

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!

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Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

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Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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