Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Marine, The Professor

I thought I'd be the Teacher's Pet and get away with murder - but no. I have homework!

I asked for some help understanding a thorny Navy shipbuilding issue.

My Marine was very helpful and I am having a much easier time. However, when he finished, he gave me homework!

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!
But this is really unfair!!!

First off because I should be exempt from homework - I am the Goddess of the Naval Blogging Strike Force, Princess Crabby "the Empress of La Moata, she who has no equal, Princesa Malhumorada, Maggie”.

But also because everyone knows that Kipling should be recited to you by someone with a pint in their hand.


Yer Marine said...

"Ship me somewheres east of Suez..."

Homework will do you good.

And hearing/reading some Kipling for the first time should alternately make you smile, think, and sometimes fill you with emotion.

"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;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees! "

BostonMaggie said...

I have read some Kipling. I am not a heathen. I'd just prefer to have you recite it to me.

When do we leave for Mandalay? what should I pack?

Yer Marine said...

Where the sun comes up like thunder, 'crost the bay.

Yer Marine said...

Did you say "heathen"?

"The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone;
'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own;
'E keeps 'is side-arms awful: 'e leaves 'em all about,
An' then comes up the regiment an' pokes the 'eathen out. "

Yer Marine said...

Should have read:

Where the sun comes up like thunder, outer China, 'crost the bay.

BostonMaggie said...

"When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow"

It's just about that time now....all I need is a nice Cape Codder and you can recite this stuff to me all night.

Yer Marine said...

"It's just about that time now....all I need is a nice Cape Codder and you can recite this stuff to me all night."

Leaving adequate time, of course, for PT, weapons cleaning, uniform prep, and Evening Colors.

BostonMaggie said...

ummm, I will be participating in Evening Colors....but the rest, you're on your own. I'll be lounging over here waiting for you to come back and pay sufficient attention to me.

Tom Goering said...

From Kipling:

Kipling Girls dream big!
Get glitz, be glam.
Bag 5 grand.

BillT said...


If the dawn's coming out of the bay,
You ain't in Mandalay.

'Cuz in the nation known as Burma, Mandalay's a biggish town,
And if you see the sun out on the water, it's not comin' up -- it's goin' down.

I'd have writ Myanmar instead of Burma, but it didn't scan as well.
And if you don't like my poesy, just have anoddah
Cape Coddah.

BostonMaggie said...

I don't drink at dawn. Cripes, that would make me some kinda ak-a-hall-ic.

My quote was right, I drink Cape Codders when "the sun was droppin' low"

Yer Marine said...


The Kipling poem is about the ROAD to Mandalay, which begins south of Rangoon, and indeed looks eastward over water for a considerable stretch ("looking eastward to the sea"), though "by the old Moulmein Pagoda" is a relative term when sitting in England.

True, the sun was technically coming up over Siam, now Thailand, but to a late-19th Century British Tommy reminiscing about his Far East duty, it would have made very little difference.

"...where the sun comes up like thunder, outer China, 'crost the bay!"

BillT said...

Flying fishes play on the road? Do their mommies know?

After quaffing a suitable number of 25-cent PBRs out of rusty cans, we used to declaim:

Hit the road to My Phouc Tay,
Where the VC sappers play!
You can hear the mortars thumpin'
From Soc Trang to Cam Ranh Bay!

There're *other* verses...

BillT said...

BTW, it's "the dawn" that comes up like thunder, not "the sun."