It’s the weekend, and while our metro-elites, lefties to the core, are having their annual mud-party at Glasto, including the appearance of Jeremy Corbyn, the world-famous pop singer, I am in the mood for poetry. You may have heard of Rudyard Kipling, if you are part of the despised ‘baby boomers’. Later generations have been told that his poems can be disregarded because he’s “right-wing” and a dead, old white man. I’m not alone though in thinking that some of his poems, written about 100 years ago, are extremely prescient, and that they describe what so many of us feel after the turmoil of the last years. “Feelings”, we’ve learned, are very important nowadays, more important than facts. I’ve chosen three poems, quoted in full, which might have been written today.
The first poem is called “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”. In olden times, schoolchildren had copybooks in which to practice perfect handwritings. That is what the poem’s title refers to. These headings were also meant to teach schoolchildren morals. So without further ado, here it is:
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 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!
It looks to me as if the General Election just passed, with the swing to Labour especially amongst the youth vote, the cry for ‘Free Stuff’ and never mind the mess such demand has made of our country every time ‘free-stuffers’ voted a Labour Government in, has been perfectly described by Kipling.
The second poem I choose still describes the way our governments treat those who put their lives on the line to defend our country. It’s especially relevant for three reasons: the news that the welfare budget for London alone is larger than that for the MoD; the news that 7,000 veterans are homeless while government, after the Grenfell Tower inferno, is prepared to rehome these residents in ‘luxury Kensington flats’ – remember that Corbyn demanded empty luxury properties to be seized for them but Labour and Momentum have never demanded that veterans be given priority for ordinary social housing! – and the unprecedented attacks on Tommy Robinson in that infamous ITV interview with Piers Morgan. That poem has the title ‘Tommy”:
I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ;
But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;
But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!
And finally, my favourite poem by Kipling – a poem which for many of us describes the undercurrents in our country, where the government and the metro-establishment belittles or plain disregards what we, the people think.
Every time I read it, it sends shivers down my spine. Here it is:
It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late
With long arrears to make good,
When the English began to hate.
They were not easily moved,
They were icy-willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the English began to hate.
Their voices were even and low,
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show,
When the English began to hate.
It was not preached to the crowd,
It was not taught by the State.
No man spoke it aloud,
When the English began to hate.
It was not suddenly bred,
It will not swiftly abate,
Through the chill years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the English began to hate.
Enjoy your weekend, and let’s hope it is a peaceful one!
(These and more poems by Kipling can be found here)