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Do you Kipple?

Our friend KT—she of the much-beloved AoSHQ Saturday Pet and Gardening threads, among other fine and notable things—posts an excellent deep-dive analysis into one of the great Bard’s very best pomes.

Rudyard Kipling first published The Gods of the Copybook Headings in 1919, soon after the War To End All Wars. And it has been a decade since Bill Whittle slightly revised Kipling’s poem “for modern ears”, replacing “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” in the poem with The Gods of Wisdom and Virtue. He also replaced “The Gods of the Market Place” with The Gods of the Here and the Now.

The word choice of “The Gods of the Here and the Now” seems to me to be especially relevant to our culture and politics at the present moment. Some gods, especially the human ones, seem to fall out of favor in just a news cycle or two. Sometimes the descriptions of the non-human gods will be transformed in a news cycle or two.

So, what and who are the Gods of the Here and the Now, at this moment?

Safe to say that answering that question will automagickally provide the answers to a whole lot of other ones into the bargain. Read all of it. Then, from there, browse through my “Kipling” section, linked in Ye Olde CF Menuebarre up top yonder. There’s bound to be something in there that will be new to you, I’d bet. If you’re not a Kipling fan yet, then it’s high time you became one.

Gee, some wisdom, it turns out, truly IS eternal. Whodathunkit?

12 thoughts on “Do you Kipple?

    1. At my Kipling page linked above, there’s a link to the complete collection of Kipling’s poems, alphabetized according to title. Don’t go there unless you’re prepared to get lost in it for several hours, it happens to me every damned time.

      1. I don’t know why I forgot you had that link, especially since you said it right in the post.
        That is the same website I go to for Kipling. I usually re-read something for the hundredth time every week or so. It’s like watching Andy Griffith re-runs, I never tire of it.

        As a kid, I wanted to visit three places. Hong Kong, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal. I’ve been to HK and India numerous times, but it’s looking like I may miss the calling of Nepal. My desire to visit India was purely Kipling of course.

        1. My once-and-forever mother in law’s job had her traveling all over the world, and India was a place she always wanted to be sent but never was until late in her career. She was not just disappointed but totally horrified by the filthy, primordial place; sent me several pictures of things like enormous water-buffalos shitting in the streets on the main drag of one of the towns she was in, along with some quite piquant commentary. Never had any desire to go there myself even before those pics, and even less after I’d seen ’em.

          I still remember a great one from the old National Lampoon’s letters-to-the-editor section, back in the NatLamp’s PJ O’Rourke/Doug Kinney/Tony Hendra glory days, ostensibly from India: “We’re the world’s largest democracy. We’re also a giant, stinking heap of shit. I dunno, draw your own conclusions.” Heh.

          1. India didn’t disappoint me at all as I knew what it would be. You don’t cram 5 times as many people into 1/3 the area of the USA and combine it with extreme poverty without seeing a few water buffaloes shitting the streets 🙂

            Pro tip here – do not eat the water buffalo hamburger. No matter what they tell you, just don’t do it.

            I like the Indian people. Both the Indians and the Bangladeshi’s find a way to be happy in spite of the extreme poverty present throughout. Lot’s of beautiful places and most of it is pretty remote. I’ve been to a number of towns that are 10-12 hour overnight train rides.

            I don’t like Indian food. I can barely tolerate it when I’m there. A few things are good, tandoori chicken without too heavy a spice, fried eggs, french fries… I once spent a week in a fantastic hotel that had only hardcore Indian food. I ate the same thing every night, 6 fried eggs and the only Indian exception, french fries.

            I’ve been to very small towns with their own dialect that literally threw flowers in front of me as I walked off the train or out of the car. They had been told an American was coming and they were there to greet me.

            I won’t repeat the story about the time I paid an Indian driver to drive like a bat out of hell down the highway already called the “highway of death”*. Six hours to get to the last flight that would get me home before Christmas…

            I did make it, but only because my agent somehow held the flight from Delhi. $$$ involved I’m pretty sure.

            Anyway, I’ve been through some pretty bad places, none worse looking than the slums of El Salvador just a few weeks after the civil war ended. It’s amazing that you can be in a 5 star hotel and a quarter mile away there is poverty that Americans never see.

            *when the Indians call a highway this, you know it’s really, really bad. I’ve seen it. Men laying in the road with brains spilt from the cracked open head, among other niceties.

  1. I understood much of the poem when I first was introduced to it. But I never knew what copybook headings meant.until about a year ago when someone explained it.

    Was it here? Anyway, understanding what copybook headings are really enhances what was a brilliant poem in the first place.

    1. When I was little I didn’t understand very much of Kipling’s writing, just that I liked it and my Mom said it was important. I’m not sure when I realized/learned where “copybook headings” came from and what was meant by them, by I’m pretty sure it was my 7th grade English teacher that explained it to the entire class. Recollection is getting a bit fuzzier these days for the stuff of earlier days…

      1. I had a pretty good education and we hit the classics like Shakespeare and Dickens etc. The one missing part is that all through grade school not one English Class curriculum focused on poetry except in the most cursory way. I never developed a taste for it as a result.

        As I self educated in my adulthood that lack of interest in poetry kept up, especially since novels and non-fiction kept me busy during any free reading time I had.

        I guess Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven is the closest I came to studying poetry in grade school.

        1. Poe is considered by many to be the greatest poet, with Kipling in 2nd place. I reverse that order.

          My recollection, subject to failure, is that we also didn’t get a lot of poetry focus. But I do remember that at least in junior high (or middle school as it is often called) we got some poetry instruction. I never cared for it to be honest with the exception of Kipling. Poetry was like Latin, I studied because they said it was necessary. They were right.

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