JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2008/09/quote-of-day_25.html (6 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1222355945-597024  Viridian at Thu, 25 Sep 2008 15:19:05 +0000

As excellently as it lays things out, this poem does require a little explanation to truly understand.

When English children practiced their writing, they were traditionally given a book (called a copybook) that had a proverb or other traditional saying at the top of each page and then blank lines underneath for the child to copy the proverb onto. Thus, the "gods of the copybook headings".

When Kipling refers to "the gods of the market place", he's not actually referring to the free market or capitalism. He's referring to the "marketplace of ideas", with all that that implies.

One of my favorite poems, but I do get tired of having to explain it to people I quote it to.

jsid-1222361354-597033  staghounds at Thu, 25 Sep 2008 16:49:14 +0000

I think he's referring to any sort of market.

It's the greatest piece of political poetry for a free society that I know of.

jsid-1222362719-597035  metapundit at Thu, 25 Sep 2008 17:11:59 +0000

Love it.

A friend of mine recently turning 30 had party at a pub where we were supposed to bring depressing and or grim poetry in honor of his milestone and general outlook on life.

I was leaning towards Yeat's Second Coming but ended up reciting this to applause from my table and weird looks from the rest of the pub...

jsid-1222435404-597064  Aaron at Fri, 26 Sep 2008 13:23:24 +0000

Awesome poem, Kevin. Thanks for sharing.
Another Kipling poem was always a favorite of mine... I forgot most of it, but it basically exhorted the reader to, "reach for your rifle and blow out your brains" if you're "wounded on Afghanistan's plains."
That poem preceded one of my favorite (and grossly underrated) war films, "The Beast"

jsid-1222437671-597067  Kevin Baker at Fri, 26 Sep 2008 14:01:11 +0000

That's Kipling's "The Young British Soldier"

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier ~OF~ the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You ~must~ wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

jsid-1222462018-597090  GrumpyOldFart at Fri, 26 Sep 2008 20:46:58 +0000

My favorite Kipling is a tie between "Gods of the Copybook Headings" and "The White Man's Burden."

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