View Full Version : Who are the Gods of the Copybook Headings?

12-02-2005, 04:35 PM
Hello Forum.

I am Bill and this is my first posting. I was looking for an explanation of Rudyard Kiplings' The Gods of the Copybook Headings. My father asked me what I thought of this poem several years ago and while it sounded interesting I couldn't tell him anything about Copybook Headings and now I find myself staring at this poem once again and I am hoping someone could provide me with some more insight.
I've also found myself suddenly painfully aware of my grammar usage. Posting on the internet is one thing, but posting on a site full of literati is much more intense, since I assume those who love language have a tendency to notice grammar a little more than those who don't. The expression A long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs comes to mind. It's these commas that scare me although the apostrophe is also working its way into my nightmares. That's about all the angst I have at the moment. Hope all is well with everyone and thanks for listening.

12-02-2005, 06:57 PM
hey there bill,

sounds like you are too stressed about your grammer. i cud go ahead and right like this 4 the whole time, but then again, I think that some people would appreciate the proper use of english. but there is no reason to be worried, we are an accepting bunch, and will take you on, bad grammer use or not.

have fun, hope you have a good time.!

12-02-2005, 11:39 PM
Hi Bill, :wave:

Welcome aboard!
I have to agree with jakobin on this. Don't stress it too much.
Remember: have fun :D

Aurora Ariel
12-03-2005, 12:31 AM
Hi Bill,
I hope you enjoy posting!Have fun.Bye for now.:)

12-03-2005, 08:28 AM
Bill, like everywhere on the `net, you will find a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds here; writers, teachers, students... just be yourself and have fun! :)

PS sorry I can't help you with that poem, but maybe if you make a topic in the Poets, Poems section someone can help you.

09-26-2008, 11:24 AM
Hi Bill. I realize it's been three years so you'll probably have found the answer to your query by now, but I thought I'd respond on the offchance that you didn't.
I was wondering the same thing about the "copybook headings" and spent a while Googling - which is where I chanced upon your query - until eventually Wikipedia came to my rescue: "The copybook headings to which the title refers, were proverbs or maxims printed at the top of 19th century British schoolboys' notebook pages. The students had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page."
I assume, therefore, that the "Gods of the Copybook Headings" refers to the wisdom of these proverbs and maxims, which Kipling is suggesting that we ignore at our peril. Current events in the world's financial markets seem to prove his point once more.

As others have said, don't panic about grammar (unless you're sitting an Eng Lit exam) - in James Thurber's wise words, "Don't get it right, just get it written."

12-22-2009, 11:48 AM
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."
—Rudyard Kipling
In a couple of days, the Senate will give its 60 ayes to the largest expansion of government since the Great Society. The Obama administration is proposing a third round of fiscal stimulus, because the first two worked so well. And Ben Bernanke is, without irony, Time's Person of the Year.
All of which is a reminder that, unlike vampires, there's no driving a stake through the heart of a bad idea. Karl Marx will always be with us, at least at the New Yorker. So will Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the patron saint of environmentalists even if they don't know it. And so will John Maynard Keynes, godfather of Obamanomics. History is only repeated as farce to those who either have forgotten it or enjoy the sick humor of a disaster foretold.
Then again, as George Melloan reminds us in "The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism," just as bad ideas never quite go out of fashion, neither do good ones. Readers looking for an antidote to this season's political gloom will find more than the full dose in this splendid book.
Mr. Melloan was, of course, the writer of this column for many years, one of the labors in a career at the Journal that spanned 54 years as a reporter, editor and commentator. Among the benefits of a long career is a long memory and an imperviousness to intellectual fads. In Kipling's terms, he is one of the Gods of the Copybook Headings—the unfashionable keepers of hard truths about which we must occasionally be reminded.
In today's economy, the hard truth is that we can't spend, consume, manipulate and inflate our way to general prosperity—as opposed merely to the enrichment of Democratic Party interest groups. This was the dominant economic model of the 1970s, with results that were once well known. "The Great Money Binge" makes short work of the theory:
"Demand-side economics holds that the economy derives its momentum from consumption, and it is of little moment if that consumption is financed by credit," he writes. "But if that were true, everyone could merrily use his credit card to supply his wants and never have to work. Maybe there's a logical flaw there somewhere."
The great strength of Mr. Melloan's book is to show, in exacting detail, not only how we came to our current crisis—thank you, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Alan Greenspan and Tom DeLay—but where that logical flaw is destined to take us again.
The alternative is supply-side economics, which, for all the invective heaped upon it, boils down to the inescapable fact that "consumption must be paid for with production"—that if you don't work (i.e., produce) you die (i.e., can't consume). The obviousness of this is so manifest that the real wonder is how it has escaped the grasp of otherwise intellectually competent people.
Perhaps more interesting is how it didn't escape the grasp of Mr. Melloan, one of whose principal achievements was his role—along with the late Bob Bartley—in turning the Journal's editorial pages into the great disseminator of supply-side thinking. Mr. Melloan chalks it up to his background as the son of an Indiana yeoman farmer for whom there was nothing abstract about the words property, production and market. "We Journal editors were a rather proletarian lot to be promoting capitalism," he writes. "We were not the voice of big business, as our critics glibly called us at the time, but exponents of free-market capitalism, an economic system that allows any individual to build a business and compete with the big boys. The two things are definitely not the same."
But what Mr. Melloan doesn't say is that he is also an heir to the antisophistic tradition of Western philosophy—stretching from Socrates to Paul to William of Ockham to Jean-Baptiste Say to Karl Popper—that insisted that truth was more likely to be found in simplicity than complexity. No surprise, sophists of every age have attacked this tradition (sophistically) as "simplistic," and people like Mr. Melloan have had to endure it.
Yesterday, President Obama made the remarkable observation that "we can't continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences, as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money." Maybe he's finally learned, as Kipling taught,
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!
Then again, maybe the president finally got around to reading George Melloan.

06-20-2010, 12:29 PM
Not to be caught up in the whole conspiracy theory club, I have always rejected the thought that our government was so corrupt that it could get away with something as bad as to selling us out at one level or another for what ever their gain would be. But either way, I just never could see how they could pull off something that our founders warned us about .News flash- Iím a confirmable believer now due to the information that I have found and will now share with you but you must please verify it to see the correctness Iím about to show you. First off it has been right in front and center for some time and we all have missed it till now they can not hide anymore its time. I have heard the saying that some times the best place to hide is in the open location that way you can create a scenario as to why you are there and hide your true intent in a helping cause. Then presto change O you have just fundamentally changed the United States of America just like you said you would, Mr. President, but you did not disclose this to the voters. Through the years you have sat on boards that you say you had no notice of the radical views of fellow board members or to that of the man whom married you and you attended his church FOR 20 YEARS and still you had no idea of their radical views. Fool us once shame on you, full us a hole bunch more shame on Us. To what board I contend that our President is now the Co chair of the its the US- Russia business council and along with the president of Russia and approximately 300 US corporations that trade and doing business in both countries and around the world. This council is located in Washington DC and also in Russia. The (US-Russia Business Council) is advocate a strong central control with corporations unions and government with no input from you, the small people. Remember thatís what the head of BP called us and they are a member of this council. They all lay out corporate social responsibility and a single player system meaning no more free enterprise, no more capitalism. And after they destroy the greatest systems every conceived by free men and replace it with the type of system from which our founding fathers escaped from. Leaving England and the rest of the world that lives or lived in a servitude like state behind. BP British petroleum, by the way, is a long term member for more then 10 years with the US Russia business council. And all oil companies listed below are involved they what to control all the high priced alternative energy areas of the worlds economy. I am sure the president has been responsible and informed the American people that he has meet four times with the president of Russia on this council to discuss what all they need to do to secure us in these terrible times, but they have caused all the turmoil that they now say they can fix with radical changes like cap and trade and a new world judiciary court. They have been for over 100 years been slowly destroying capitalism so they can set back up what they lost when we broke free from Europe. Read their own words and then look and see how they are handling this oil spill. I contend the spill was ether caused or being used as a good reason to leave capitalism behind. I mean look because you can see how broken it is. Here are the words and notes from the US-Russia business council , please read and verify be strong stand up restore or republic and our nation God Bless America from the president of US Russia business council home page. What they want to export to the US its called (control liberalization) https://www.usrbc.org/aboutus/policyupdate/ An important challenge for the Commission will be restoring the positive trend in bilateral trade that the global recession abruptly halted, and create a business climate conducive to further investment. In the long run, this will require institutional reforms, such as creating an independent judiciary and combating corruption. However, there are several areas where relatively quick progress could be made, including simplification of visa and work permit procedures in both countries, export control liberalization in the U.S., and customs reform in Russia. These fall under the jurisdiction of the executive branch in each country and therefore should be resolvable without legislation.

Increasing the focus on commercial relations may be our best chance of getting the U.S.-Russia relationship right by putting enough ballast in the keel to ensure that we can steer through the storms that inevitably occur. The business community stands ready to support this process in the hope of improving the standard of living and quality of life for the people of both countries.

With warm regards,

Edward S. Verona
Obama should be charged with the crime of treason and along with all others in there web of lies and misleading facts.

Hers a list of the members of the US Russia Business council that our President is the co chair of, if you dig deep youíll find the conspiracy. Written by Free Man Roger Gove

06-20-2010, 12:35 PM
Hers a list of the members of the US Russia Business council that our President is the co chair of, if you dig deep youíll find the conspiracy. Written by Free Man Roger Gove Theodore Austell, III
The Boeing Company
Sidney W. Bardwell
Deere & Company
Ozer Baysal
Pfizer Inc.
Stephen E. Biegun
Ford Motor Company Scott M. Blacklin
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Carolyn Brehm
Procter & Gamble
Peter A. Charow
BP America Inc.
James F. Collins
U.S. Russia Foundation
Jeffrey R. Costello
JPMorgan Chase Bank
Andrew Cranston
Richard N. Dean
Baker & McKenzie
Neil W. Duffin
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Dorothy Dwoskin
Microsoft Corporation
C. Cato Ealy
International Paper
Mark B. Fuller
Monitor Group
Toby T. Gati
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP
Peter Gerendasi
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Herman O. Gref
Christopher Gubbey
General Motors Corporation
Drew J. Guff
Siguler Guff & Company, LLC
Trevor Gunn
Medtronic, Inc.
Jay M. Haft
Renova Group
D. Jeffrey Hirschberg
Kalorama Partners, LLC
Kamil S. Isaev
Intel Corporation
Karl Johansson
Ernst & Young L.L.P
Alexey Kim
Philip Morris Sales
and Marketing Ltd.
Klaus Kleinfeld
Alcoa, Inc.
Sergei Kuznetsov
Severstal North America
William C. Lane
Caterpillar Inc.
James J. Mulva
Peter B. Necarsulmer
The PBN Company
Thomas R. Pickering
The Eurasia Foundation
Jay R. Pryor
Chevron Corporation
William R. Rhodes
Daniel W. Riordan
Insurance Company
Paul Rodzianko
Hermitage Museum Foundation
Charles E. Ryan
UFG Asset Management
Claudi Santiago
General Electric Company
Bernard Sucher
Merrill Lynch International
Maurice Tempelsman
Lazare Kaplan International Inc.
Peter L. Thoren
Access Industries, Inc.
Clyde C. Tuggle
The Coca-Cola Company
Daniel H. Yergin
Cambridge Energy
Research Associates

STOP THE TAKE OVER Before Then the gods of market tumbled , and their 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 copybook heading limped up to explain it once more
As it will be in the future it was at the birth of man
There are four things certain since social progress began
That the dog returns to his vomit and the sow returns to her mire,
And the Burt fools 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 surly as waters will wet us, as surly as fire will burn,
The gods of copybook headings with terror and slaughter return!

06-23-2010, 01:16 AM
As stains tear us apart and the pill is not to be taken with out food, then you should be ready this time. itís the least you can do.
Mine is to be mine and yours will even the score, and as you see the wreck before you, thereís no time for whats in store.
Now the winds blow harder and no longer can you stand and when day turns to night your blessings haveing fallen from your hand. and now your unsteady not sure of the beat, not like before, Its not such a treat. I stirred in the mirror, my gold I have shed and the place I call home, its not now my bed. but when wine flowed like heaven and lust ate at me, it was all that I needed from the ways they taught me.
When thoughts have expired as wisdom plays fool and the king of the castle is that same dam old cruel.
My mother once again is smitten and my father backs to time and all that is yours now becomes mine. and if you still wonder how this came to pass, then just remember where the ones you anointed to save your sweet ***.

07-24-2012, 10:51 AM
In order to improve their handwriting Victorian children would copy out sayings, principles and proverbs from the top of a page, thus copybook headings. This accomplished two things: improved handwriting and memorization of useful information. Kipling includes three examples in the poem:

"Stick to the Devil you know."

"The Wages of Sin is Death."

"If you don't work you die."

As you can see, the Bible was a common source: although anything from poetry to mathematics might be used, morals and proverbs were most common. It is one of my favourite poems.

07-14-2014, 01:53 PM
This poem, which I have admired for years, inspired me to write a new verse (maybe to be placed after "Carboniferous Epoch"), with apologies to both Kipling and Robert Frost:

In the Multicultural Era we abolished the Curse of Race
By tumbling all the world's peoples in a huge, wet group embrace.
But oil wouldn't mix with water, and strife was the fruit of our labours,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said, "Good fences make good neighbours."