First they came for the Aunt Jemima, and I did not speak out—because I do not eat pancakes.

Then they came for Princess Mia from Land o’ Lakes Butter, and I did not speak out— because I do not use butter.

Then they came for the Uncle Ben, and I did not speak out—because I do not eat rice.

Then they came for Goya Foods—and there was nothing left to eat. Do Black Beans Matter?



Every few years, mankind must read and ponder this poem. One can tell the poem is immortal because it is apt for this generation, surely as it was in 1919.

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 worshiped 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 neighbor 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 selective 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!

— Rudyard Kipling




  1. From Wiki (cuz I windered):
    The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, often drawn from sermons and scripture extolling virtue and wisdom, that were printed at the top of the pages of copybooks, special notebooks used by 19th-century British school-children. The students had to copy the maxims repeatedly, by hand, down the page. The exercise was thought to serve simultaneously as a form of moral education and penmanship practice.

    • Kipling viewed those maxims as a dangerous form of propaganda aimed to help British people think alike. His works such as this one and “The City of Brass” were cautionary in nature because he saw the rise and temptation of socialism, and by extension, its destructive nature. There is nothing new under the Sun and Kiplings warnings, read extensively at the time, are likewise relevant today. However, they don’t have much of a readership in 2020. Naturally, they are branded by most universities as being “too white”.

      Works such as “The Grave of the Hundred Head” are dismissed as being racist out of hand, instead of being read, considered, and pondered. “IF”, which I considered to be a roadmap to manhood from my teens, is now disregarded. We will have to rediscover the underlying principles that Kipling wrote of if we are to be a free people.

  2. I’ve always rather liked Macdonough’s Song as well. The last stanza being:

    Whatsoever, for any cause,
    Seeketh to take or give
    Power above or beyond the Laws,
    Suffer it not to live!
    Holy State or Holy King–
    Or Holy People’s Will–
    Have no truck with the senseless thing.
    Order the guns and kill!

    On a longish car trip last summer, to kill time I went over “If” line-by-line with the Pretty Korean Girl. She’s not much on poetry and allusions (English being her third language might have something to do with it), but by the end of it she turned to me and said, “That’s REALLY good.”

    • I think that Kipling strikes men more forcefully than women. Just an observation.

      Sharing anything with the Pretty Korean Girl sounds as if it’s worth the effort.

  3. Thx for this, will share around the campfire tonight…and ‘they’ will get it.

    In the latest copy of the American Quarter Horse Assoc. quarterly, the cover photo (back view of a cowgirl on horseback with the flag) is a stunning representation of patriotism at its finest, and quite possibly the last real civilian holdout. My rancher friends agree.

  4. Thank you. I’m a bit late to the party, but an excellent way to start out a Saturday morning.

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