The Bard of the Common Man

Rudyard Kipling, the famous novelist was a res...

Rudyard Kipling, the famous novelist was a resident of Torquay for a brief period in 1896. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

150 years ago, on 30 December, in Bombay, India was born Rudyard Kipling. He was, of course, one of the best children’s books authors ever, simply see Kim of The Jungle Book. He was also a superb poet.

Many call him, of course, The Bard of Empire, but only those who do not read him perceptively. His Recessional is hardly a paean to Empire.

G0D of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of Hosts be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

It is, in fact, more akin to the Roman Slave at the triumph, that Patton spoke of. “A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”

I’ve always found him who saw clearly. Who ever saw more clearly than the man who wrote The Gods of the Copybook Headings. That may be why our educational elites despise him; he told the plain unvarnished truth. Like that ending that foresees, the modern world we live in, as well as anyone can.

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!

Sounds a goodly bit like what we’re living through, out here in the real world, doesn’t it.

Pray that another of his poems doesn’t come true though, although the Normans are pushing it.

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

It’s good advice still, for those who presume themselves good enough to rule free men,

But you know, like I do, that the cost of living free has often been that some, sometimes multitudes die, and so did Kipling. The Great War sickened him, and it was not lessened by the loss of his only son, at Loos, just over a hundred years now.

But like so many of us, he would not shirk or be perceived as shirking his duty, and so Jack died. But duty, and poetry lived on, to remember him, and all the other like him through history.

But his A Dead Statesman rings very true to my ears!

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

3 Responses to The Bard of the Common Man

  1. “But you know, like I do, that the cost of living free has often been that some, sometimes multitudes die, and so did Kipling. The Great War sickened him, and it was not lessened by the loss of his only son, at Loos, just over a hundred years now. But like so many of us, he would not shirk or be perceived as shirking his duty, and so Jack died. But duty, and poetry lived on, to remember him, and all the other like him through history.”

    Death and tragedy are an unfortunate reality, if not an entirely unpreventable one. I am sending a load of goods to Afghanistan tomorrow, the Christmas confectioneries were on sale for nothing so I bought the load to mail off to friends I served with this past year. Where were you stationed as a Marine?

    Like

    • the unit says:

      Bard durn. I’ll just ignore and be the Bard of a Silent Man, no response! And I typed several on Notepad. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Some Interesting Post To Read | My Daily Musing

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