Eddi’s Service

Monday, December 19, AD 2016

 

The thirty-second in my on-going series on the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere, here , here and here.

Kipling was not conventionally religious, but religious themes frequently occur in his poetry.  Christmas was a theme that Kipling came back to throughout his career, beginning with the poem Christmas in India which he wrote when he was twenty.  Eddi’s Service first appeared in Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies in 1910 and features a most unusual Christmas midnight mass:

Eddi’s Service

(A.D. 687)

EDDI, priest of St. Wilfrid

In his chapel at Manhood End,

Ordered a midnight service

For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,

And the night was stormy as well.

Nobody came to service,

Though Eddi rang the bell.

‘Wicked weather for walking,’

Said Eddi of Manhood End.

‘But I must go on with the service

For such as care to attend.

The altar-lamps were lighted,

An old marsh-donkey came,

Bold as a guest invited,

And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,

The water splashed on the floor,

And a wet, yoke-weary bullock

Pushed in through the open door.

‘How do I know what is greatest,

How do I know what is least?

That is My Father’s business,’

Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

‘But – three are gathered together –

Listen to me and attend.

I bring good news, my brethren!’

Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger

And a Stall in Bethlehem,

And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,

That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,

They listened and never stirred,

While, just as though they were Bishops,

Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes

And the windows showed the day,

And the Ox and the Ass together

Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,

Said Eddi of Manhood End,

‘I dare not shut His chapel

On such as care to attend.’

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One Response to Eddi’s Service

Potty War: Let’s Pretend

Wednesday, June 8, AD 2016

lysenko

 

David Solway at PJ Media gets to the heart of not only Potty War but what ails the West in general:  a pernicious, wholly political, game of let’s pretend:

 

It is as if the Soviet pseudo-scientist Trofim Lysenko has risen from the grave and, by a mordant historical irony, infected not the burgeoning Russian empire but a weak and decadent West that has succumbed to a sterile and perilous sort of intellectual vernalization—a term glibly misused by Lysenko to describe the process, mistakenly thought heritable, of forcing winter cereals to behave like spring cereals. As plant biologist Richard Amasino writes, Lysenko’s belief that vernalized transformations could be inherited “fit the Marxist ideology that…a Marxist society could produce heritable changes in attitude, and, thus, if the proper environment was provided, future generations would consist of improved citizens. Lysenko’s efforts,” he continues, “to obtain or fabricate results that supported a political ideology…had disastrous consequences for Russian genetics.” Where the speculative and the real are in flagrant contradiction, the results are almost always catastrophic.

The West is now busy at work across the entire field of social, cultural and political life promoting its own version of Lysenkoism, a misconceived exercise of supposedly vernalizing reality by transforming fact into fantasy and truth into lie for the purpose of creating the perfect society and the redeemed human being, transferable across the generations. Its assumptions about the world are guided not by common sense or genuine science but by the precepts of ideology and political desire.

Examples abound of the ubiquitous tendency to replace ontology with myth, the determinate with the fluid and the objective with the delusionary. A modest inventory of such noxious miscontruals would include:

  • Biological sexual differentiation must yield to voluntary gender identity.
  • A cooling climate is obviously warming.
  • The demonstrable failure of socialism wherever it has been tried is proof that it has not been properly implemented.
  • Democratic Israel is an apartheid state.
  • Islam with its record of unstinting bloodshed is a religion of peace.
  • Illegal immigrants are undocumented workers.
  • Terrorism is workplace violence.
  • A child in the womb is a mass of insensible protoplasm.
  • The killing of the old and the ill is merciful, even when the recipient of such tender concern is not consulted.
  • There is no such thing as truth, an axiom regarded as true.
  • Green energy is a social and economic good irrespective of crony profiteering, exorbitant cost, wildlife devastation, and unworkability in its present state.
  • Storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis and mortality itself are natural phenomena, but Nature, which cares nothing for human life, is nonetheless sacred, vulnerable and at the mercy of human indifference.
  • Women are disadvantaged in the workforce, academia and society at large despite the fact that high-end hiring practices, legal judgments, custody protocols and university appointments, as well as student enrollment, wholly favor women to the detriment of men.
  • An enemy is a friend.
  • Criminality is innocence.
  • Losing is winning.
  • Prosperity is avarice.
  • Redistributing wealth, i.e., robbing the affluent and productive, is a form of compassion and basic justice.
  • Those who claim victim status are always credible.
  • Accumulating debt is an economic stimulus.
  • Big government is a boon to mankind.
  • War is passé (so 19th century).
  • Diplomacy and talk—the higher Twitter—will prevail over barbarism.
  • The most gynocentric society ever created is a rape culture.
  • Palestine is a historically legitimate nation.
  • Uniformity of thought and action equals cultural diversity.
  • An exploded lie merely confirms what it lies about (e.g., Rigoberta Menchu).
  • Morality is relative.
  • Merit is an unearned distinction.

Or in other words, what is, is not, and what is not, is.

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30 Responses to Potty War: Let’s Pretend

  • George Orwell was a prophet.

  • Native Americans are native to America?

  • Excellent post!

  • How to beat Hillary who portrays herself as the first woman candidate for President but is little more and a lot less. Following upon Obama’s ridiculous transgender gambit, have Sanders or Trump simply self-identify as a woman. There it is. No need to vote for Hillary.

  • “Those who claim victim status are always credible”.
    .
    — Except if giving credence to the claim inconveniences the left. For
    example, Bill Clinton has had claims of sexual assault made against him
    since his college days. Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broadderick
    and Gennifer Flowers etc. etc. have all claimed to be the victims of his
    sexual aggression. The left’s response has always been to circle the wagons
    around Bill and attack the women’s reputations. Ted Kennedy was also
    a beneficiary of the left’s selective willingness to listen to the claims of victims
    of sexual assault.

  • #NEVERHILLARY
    .
    Universal deceit. Blacks, gays, illegals, muslims, transgenders, et al must always come first – you have no right. Their rights trump all of your rights. Anyone who disagrees is a racist and must be punished.
    .
    The aristocracy (Hillary, Obama, et al) call speaking the Truth, “hate speech.”
    .
    George Orwell: “in times of universal deceit (‘political correctness)’, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act (‘hate speech’).”
    .

  • Cardinal Sarah said ‘God or Nothing’. To be without God is to be without reason and thus nothing. The above litany of irrational formulations are perfect examples. Until the world returns to God we will continue to descend into chaos, into nothingness. And the reason the descent has accelerated is because the Catholic Church has appropriated the wisdom of the secular world and lost conscientiousness of it’s God given mission. With Pope Francis this “achievement” is now even being celebrated. Conclusion: Only divine intervention will be effective now.

  • While this post covers many more topics than the public restroom debate, on that matter, I propose that a far more simple solution than “let people who are transgender use either restroom” (which is how the changes have been phrased in everything I’ve seen on the matter). Simply declare all public restrooms gender neutral (Put me on the “we should at least not do nothing” side, for the dangers of physical attack that individuals who are transgender face are very real. And to say “well they should not display their difference then” is to justify violence. To say “they deserved it”).

    This might seem like its basically the same thing. However, there is a crucial difference. This way does not get into the discussion of gender identity/what we are born as vs. consider ourselves at all.

    As far as “propriety”? End the use of urinals. What is more, it is not like we don’t have gender neutral restrooms anyway. That is essentially what all of our restrooms at home are. And the lines are already allowed to be blurred. Parents will take little kids into restroom of their own gender.

    Essentially, there is something for everyone.

  • @7789

    “And to say, well they should not display their difference then, is to justify violence. To say, they deserved it.”

    I do not condone violence towards mentally challenged individuals.

    I also do not believe in creating dangerous environments for child molesters to prey on the innocent.

    The influence of one Muslim President to recommend that public schools allow confused children to use either bathroom OR the school system face financial blowback from Federal government assistance is criminal. As the governor of Texas said;”President Obama can keep his thirty pieces of silver.”

    What’s worse?
    If a transgender person is attacked in their respective bathroom or a teenage girl is raped because a paedophile legally is allowed into a woman’s bathroom?

    The safety of both is important, however Obama has placed the innocent children in danger so a very small segment of society can feel better about themselves. A segment that refuses to accept their natural gender and in essence, demands society to accept and provide money to change their plumbing.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/05/30/sex-change-now-courtesy-of-the-american-taxpayer/

    Please read the DR’s comment pertaining to his field of psychiatry and the “madness” in caving into the sex change craze. He is right.
    They are to help them with their mental illness, not advance it and call it good medicine to spend $20,000 to buy a vagina and think all will be right from now on.

    Obama’s decision has hindered the mentality ill. He has placed wolves inside the chicken coop. The blurring of Obama’s recommendations will be focused clearly and plainly when assaults increase in restrooms. When young girls are raped and terrorized because a mentally ill individual would feel better to use a bathroom of his/her choosing, then will you understand the great injustice this Muslim has created by opening all doors to predators.

  • 1. “mentally ill” There is a WORLD of difference between being transgender and being schizophrenic, various forms of autism, needing special education or in home care, etc.

    2. the stats tend to suggest the whole of some sort of explosion of violence idea is a myth,

    3. Make all restrooms gender neutral and eliminate the use of urinals, and the above hypothetical isn’t a problem anyway. The “danger” is no greater than anywhere else in public.

  • “1. “mentally ill” There is a WORLD of difference between being transgender and being schizophrenic, various forms of autism, needing special education or in home care, etc.”

    Thinking you should be the opposite sex is on par with thinking you should be a dog or a tree. It is clearly a mental illness and so would be recognized if not for the politics surrounding this matter.

    “2. the stats tend to suggest the whole of some sort of explosion of violence idea is a myth.”

    Wrong.

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/5190/5-times-transgender-men-abused-women-and-children-amanda-prestigiacomo

    “3. Make all restrooms gender neutral and eliminate the use of urinals, and the above hypothetical isn’t a problem anyway. The “danger” is no greater than anywhere else in public.”

    Here is a thought. Males use male restrooms and females use female restrooms. A miniscule number of mentally ill people should not be allowed to alter an arrangement that serves well the vast majority of the population. Catering to the fantasies of the mentally ill does them no good.

  • Donald.
    Your link provides 5 cases.
    How many more since that article?
    5, 25?

    The common sense that prevailed years ago is now an uncommon occurrence. The “leftovers” are infesting the populace. Political correctness is the name of this virus.

    As always…. prayers and courage.

    Courage to always stand up for Truth when popular fashion has been promoted to remove Truth from the minds and hearts of men and women. Paganism will perish.

  • 1. i contend they are no where close to being the same. What is more, being transgender does not impact the quality of ones perception of the world around them or ability to follow the rules of society.

    2. a few cases does not make an epidemic.

  • J.S. Person 1 stated; “2. A few cases does not make an epidemic.”

    If you are speaking of the 5 cases presented then I would consider the frustration you might feel if one of the “cases” involved your mom, wife or daughter. You might not feel that an epidemic is at hand, however you may well feel the angst of a parent who lives under absurd rules that place your loved one in harm’s way.

    Abortion wasn’t considered an epidemic in 1973. Nearly sixty million deaths since then might just qualify legalized abortion as an epidemic of great proportion.

    btw…..do you have any adolescent daughters?

  • “1. I contend they are no where close to being the same. What is more, being transgender does not impact the quality of ones perception of the world around them or ability to follow the rules of society.”

    It involves the same refusal to face reality and an embracing of a complete fantasy instead. The mentally ill people called transgenders, at least the activists among them, not only refuse to follow the rules of society they seek to alter the rules to cater to their madness.

    “2. a few cases does not make an epidemic.”

    Oh come off it! What do you think is going to happen when you give license to men to go into female restrooms by claiming to be transgender? This isn’t rocket science.

  • make all restrooms gender neutral rather than keeping the binary and letting people choose, and there is no greater danger than there is anywhere else.

  • “make all restrooms gender neutral rather than keeping the binary and letting people choose, and there is no greater danger than there is anywhere else.”

    No need to do that if we simply do not cater to a small fragment of the population that is mentally ill. Additionally the idea that we should go through the expense of modifying the public bathrooms throughout the nation to accomodate people who disbelieve their DNA is loony tunes.

  • There may be very few cases of sexual confusion but there will likely be numerous cases of abuse of women and girls in restrooms, even shower rooms by dangerous or depraved persons who will take advantage of the utter nonsense coming from the current President. A sane citizenry would question the sanity of this man.

  • while one would have to go through expense to remove old urinals, in situations where this might be too much for a time, one doesnt actually have to go through much expense. more or less just declare bathrooms gender neutral.

  • “while one would have to go through expense to remove old urinals, in situations where this might be too much for a time, one doesnt actually have to go through much expense. more or less just declare bathrooms gender neutral.”

    Well getting rid of urinals would certainly inconvenience all males in the country and add vastly to lines at male public rest rooms. Additionally that does not solve the problem of multi-stall restrooms which both males and females under your plan would be using together. This is completely nuts.

  • Its the near future. There are public restrooms without urinals. All that is in these restrooms are sinks and stalls.

    What is so nuts about this future?

  • “There are public restrooms without urinals.”

    In almost all male public restrooms I have been in there are urinals. It is nuts to go through all this simply to cater to a small group of mentally ill people.

  • So now we have to change billions of dollars of plumbing to satisfy a handful of disordered people who are confused about their own “plumbing”. That is crazy.

  • William P.Walsh.

    The future!

    I dare not guess what the future progressive will come up with 20 years down the road.
    Ok….one guess. By then the liberal thinking..yes thinking..(going out on a limb since thought seems to be sewage material for many,) will be how to accommodate the animal he or she is wed to.
    After all..the pony Sally married will have “rights” to choose to go to the mall with her if she wishes. Then comes the restroom use.
    Re-plumb for Billy the pony, Sally’s mate.
    Absurd?

    Just look around.

    “Lets make all public bathrooms gender neutral.”

    Here’s one better.

    A porta potty will be available for all transgender individuals everywhere around the country, for their exclusive use. We will save the taxpayer millions from having to change public restrooms, and give the transgender community a private room…all to themselves.

    No risks from paedophile’s going into the wrong public restrooms to harm our children.
    Surely Obama could compromise, and leave the boys room for boys, and likewise for the girl folk.

  • Transgender as a political issue. Found on the internet:

    FYI-FTR: The transgender school bathroom issue as a cultural Marxist divide, polarize and ruin wedge issue.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/atheism/fyi-ftr-the-transgender-school-bathroom-issue-as-a-cultural-marxist-divide-polarise-and-ruinwedge/

  • First, tell Obama, The Man Who Would be King, that he is not. And then remind him that where Title IX says “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded” , it does not mean on the basis of a mental disorder, that sex is scientifically simply sex and not some subjective distortion of reality. And then let us consider the abolition of the US Department of Education as an unnecessary and rather toxic formula concocted by our second worst President James E. Carter. Finally, never – never – never – Hillary.

  • Reagan June 1982, “Tear down this wall.”
    .
    Obama June 2016, “Tear down this stall.”
    .
    Mr. Dowd, Truth. All this socio-psycho garbage is meant to destroy our faith, our families, and our way of life. The liberals are circling for the kill. Resist as best you can.
    .
    PS: The magnificence of Hillary’s (and Trump Derangement Syndrome/establishment GOP) “dream economy” is Venezuela, where they do their food shopping in dumpsters. Be prepared.

  • Michael Dowd.

    Good link at uncommon descent.
    Spot on.

  • Somebody wrote; “Hell is the impossibility of reason.” Charlie Sheen’s character in Platoon.

    To me…this obscure quote fits perfectly with the subject matter.

The Widow at Windsor

Sunday, May 8, AD 2016

The thirty-first in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere, here and here.

Going away the most popular monarch in British history was Queen Victoria who reigned 63 years and seven months over the United Kingdom and the British Empire, being acclaimed Empress of India on May 1, 1876.  To most of her British subjects she became a mother figure, as her reign went on, particularly in the 1880s and 1890s.  After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861, shortly after his efforts in toning down a British message to the Lincoln administration during the Trent affair helped avert war between the United States and Great Britain, she put on black mourning which she wore for the remainder of her life.  Her relative isolation after that perhaps added to her air of majesty as she became a symbol of her far flung domains encompassing a quarter of the population of the Earth.

Kipling had a fairly ambivalent attitude to the British monarchy, liking them well enough as human beings, but also recognizing the struggle that had been waged throughout English history to gain liberties.  The role of British monarchs during Kipling’s life time suited Kipling:  they were now out of politics and reigned but did not rule.  Kipling had boundless contempt for almost all politicians, calling them little tin gods on wheels, an expression not original to him but which he dearly loved.  In his Barrack Room Ballads (1892) Kipling inserted a tribute by a common soldier to the Widow of Windsor:

‘Ave you ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on ‘er ‘ead?
She ‘as ships on the foam — she ‘as millions at ‘ome,
An’ she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)
There’s ‘er nick on the cavalry ‘orses,
There’s ‘er mark on the medical stores —
An’ ‘er troopers you’ll find with a fair wind be’ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars! — barbarious wars!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Widow at Windsor,
An’ ‘ere’s to the stores an’ the guns,
The men an’ the ‘orses what makes up the forces
O’ Missis Victorier’s sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier’s sons!)

Walk wide o’ the Widow at Windsor,
For ‘alf o’ Creation she owns:
We ‘ave bought ‘er the same with the sword an’ the flame,
An’ we’ve salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars! — it’s blue with our bones!)
Hands off o’ the sons o’ the Widow,
Hands off o’ the goods in ‘er shop,
For the Kings must come down an’ the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says “Stop”!
(Poor beggars! — we’re sent to say “Stop”!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Lodge o’ the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs —
To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an’ the file,
An’ open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars! — it’s always they guns!)

We ‘ave ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor,
It’s safest to let ‘er alone:
For ‘er sentries we stand by the sea an’ the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars! — an’ don’t we get blown!)
Take ‘old o’ the Wings o’ the Mornin’,
An’ flop round the earth till you’re dead;
But you won’t get away from the tune that they play
To the bloomin’ old rag over’ead.
(Poor beggars! — it’s ‘ot over’ead!)
Then ‘ere’s to the sons o’ the Widow,
Wherever, ‘owever they roam.
‘Ere’s all they desire, an’ if they require
A speedy return to their ‘ome.
(Poor beggars! — they’ll never see ‘ome!)       

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Danegeld

Friday, April 29, AD 2016

 

The thirtieth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere and hereOne of the many reasons to read Kipling is due to how much of his writing stands the test of time.  A good example of this is Dane-geld written in 1911.  Danegeld was a tax levied by the Kings of Wessex to buy peace with the various invading warbands of Danes in the ninth through the eleventh century.  The Danegeld of course convinced the various Danes in Denmark that it was a good idea to invade England, be bought off in gold by a Saxon king and then to settle in England and repeat the process whenever money ran short.  One would think that the bad consequences of giving way to such extortion should be obvious, but it is amazing how often this simple lesson has been repeated down the centuries.  The Obama administration has paid Danegeld of a sort to various enemies, or would be enemies, of the US, including Iran, Russia, North Korea, thus having the US pay for trouble down the road.

Kipling is not merely to be read for amusement during an idle hour.  Read carefully he often has wisdom useful for today.  Here is the text of Dane-geld:

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4 Responses to Danegeld

  • The Obama/Hillary motives (hatred of American interests and abhorrence of popular/self-rule) may have been different from Wessex’ kings’ motives (buy peace).
    .
    Quoted at “The Daily Gouge”: Andrew Roberts, “Similarly, during the Arab Spring, the Libyan Uprising, the annexation of the Crimea, the Syrian civil war, and the Ukrainian insurgency, Hillary/Obama have in each case carefully identified the pro-democracy forces and then either denied them American support or actively undermined them…”
    .
    Early on, President Jefferson knew the lesson. I believe he said/wrote: “Million for war. But, not one penny for tribute.” Today, the World incentivizes Somali//Skinnies’ piracy.

  • I agree with T Shaw – again.

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Laws for Wolves and Men

Thursday, March 10, AD 2016

The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , here and here.

Kipling had a love, hate relationship with the law and authority in general.  He regarded law as necessary to the human condition, but he was too sharp an observer of the humanity not to notice that more than a few men in authority were fools, and that they manipulated laws to their advantage.  In our confused times we have individuals who are stridently against laws that support traditional morality, while calling for government micro management in other areas of life that would have astounded most of the tyrants in history who lived prior to the last century.  In his The Jungle Book (1894), Kipling sets forth a law code for a group, a wolf pack, that would at first blush seem completely lawless:

The Law of the Jungle
(From The Jungle Book)
by Rudyard Kipling


Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

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Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 31, AD 2015

Benedict-XV 

The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

(Rudyard Kipling was born one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday on December 30, 1865.  To observe the date I am reposting this post from 2011.  On all that I have written about Kipling, and that is now a considerable amount, this is my favorite piece. I would observe in passing that both Chesterton and CS Lewis, although they differed considerably from Kipling’s views on many topics, were both fans of him as a writer.)

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.   The Holy War (1917) is today one of Kipling’s most obscure poems, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt.

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11 Responses to Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

  • I learned more history about WW I in this essay than I did in all my years of public schooling.

  • I too am a big fan of Kipling. An added benefit is that liberals’ heads explode when I mention his name.
    .
    Not all liberals, tho. My father (old soldier, Kipling man) was still with us and able to attend my son’s US Army commissioning ceremony at the lovely chapel in Fordham U. We were all pleasantly surprised when, after Father President gave the benediction, another Jesuit priest (apparently he does this every year) did a fine reading of Kipling’s “Recessional.”
    .

    Kipling’s short stories are valuable, as well.
    .

    .

  • It is hard to see how Great Britain could have seen WWI as anything other than a war that must be fought through to a just victory, a “holy war” perfectly valid against the Kaiser and his ruthless military leadership.

    Just for one point, it was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.

  • The irony is that Kipling did get his wish concerning German militarism, but only in 1945, and after Foch’s twenty year armistice.

  • (World War I) was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.
    Steve Phoenix

    Aerial bombing of civilian population centers was an easily anticipated response to Britain’s Starvation Blockade (yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it) barring all shipping, even from neutrals and even of food, to Germany. The other noteworthy response of Germany to Britain’s plan to starve civilians to death en masse was her submarine warfare against British shipping and other ships carrying war materiel to Britain. By the way, British practice was to mingle passenger ships within convoys of warships and armed merchant ships carrying war material to Britain. Think about that when the current heir to Wilson’s positions as Democrat party leader and US President complains about ISIS positioning its fighters among civilians.

    2016 is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow “He Kept Us Out Of War” Wilson’s re-election. Yes, the Democrat KKK-fanboy marched the USA right into war after his re-election. There were over 300,000 casualties of young American men, over 100,000 of which were deaths. (But to hear the feminist Mrs. Clinton tell it, women had it worse.)

  • Great article, just correct:
    In 1907 Pope BENEDiCT….

    By the way, yeah on Pope Pius XIi, but he was silent too many times and the Second War was clearer where was the evil.

    Best regards,
    Pedro

  • Thanks for catching that Pedro. I have made the correction. During World War II nobody was criticizing the Pope for silences. Everyone knew where he stood.

  • “yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it)”

    No, that is what the Kaiser’s government called it as part of their propaganda. Germany imported food from the Netherlands and Scandinavia throughout the War. Due to their victories against Russia, they had access to the grain producing regions of Poland and the Ukraine during the latter part of the War. German food rationing, and stealing food from conquered areas, kept starvation from happening in Germany, hysterical Teutonic propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

    ” marched the USA right into war after his re-election.”

    The Republicans were much more eager for War against the Central Powers than Wilson. His hand was forced by the Zimmerman telegram in which Germany promised Mexico parts of the US in exchange for Mexican support of Germany in any war between Germany and the US.

  • You are always welcome.
    Yes everyone knew and he even plotted to kill Hitler, but the own Pius xii recognized his silence in his speeches as Pope.
    I recommend the excellent book “The church of spies” . Riebling clarifies.
    Best regards,
    Pedro

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  • Yes, I agree that we should do something about our schools – voting comes to mind

The Young British Soldier

Wednesday, December 2, AD 2015

The twenty-eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here and here.

One frequent subject of Kipling’s poems were the rankers of the British Army.  His unsentimental but affectionate look at these common men who held up the British Empire with their courage usually brings a special spark to his verse and that is certainly the case with The Young British Soldier (1892).   In the form of a chant like song by a veteran soldier it provides sound advice to recruits:  don’t drink bad liquor, avoid disease which is helped by not getting drunk, wear your helmet in the sun, be civil with noncoms on work details, a wife who can cook is preferable to a beautiful wife who can’t, don’t meet adultery with murder, keep calm under fire, take care of your rifle, the Martini-Henry rifle is referred to, and it will take care of you, pick off the gunners of opposing artillery and don’t be terrified of the noise of cannon fire, running from a fight is the shortest route to being killed and suicide is preferable to death by torture.  I differ with the last piece of advice but I doubt if God does not have a great deal of sympathy for poor souls facing the choice of self murder or death by being cut apart by fiends.  Here is the text of the poem:

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Orwell

Saturday, November 7, AD 2015

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A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep.”

George Orwell, from a review of A Choice of Kipling’s Verse

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Let’s Pretend and the Gods of the Copybook Headings

Monday, July 6, AD 2015

Well, the Greeks rejected austerity measures in a referendum yesterday 61% to 39%.  This should mean that Greece leaves the Eurozone but I doubt it.  My guess is that the powers that be in the EU, afraid that the whole Euro edifice will crash, along with their phony baloney jobs, will craft together some sort of last minute mini-bailout to keep the Greeks in the Eurozone for a bit longer, making the ultimate collapse of the Eurozone that much more devastating.  What all of this portends of course is the end of an era that is much larger than what happens to a minor Mediterranean economy, or even of the European economy.  We are saying farewell to the era of Let’s Pretend.

Let’s Pretend began back in the ’60’s of the last century when it became a common belief among the intelligentsia of the West that the usual rules, what Kipling called the Gods of the Copybook Headings, that had governed human affairs since the dawn of Man no longer applied.  We are clearly in the end game of this rubbish on stilts as reality keeps intruding.  Summoning money out of thin air eventually comes to a crashing end, welfare states eventually collapse under their own weight, free sex burdens society with kids growing up fatherless and with adults that never grow up at all, imposing a common currency on nations with separate economies, banking systems and disparate cultures is delusional, and the list of collective flights from reality could go at great length.

 

In this end game we have the proponents of our Let’s Pretend Culture assuring us that sex is merely a made up distinction and that marriage includes joining men to men and women to women.  Rather than ushering in a brave new world, this is a dying gasp of an exhausted project of reality denial.  Of course we are not the first generation to engage in such a project.  The lamentable chronicle of human folly and crime is replete with examples of societies collectively taking leave of their senses for a time.  However, reality always wins in the end, and the return of reality is usually attended with the shedding of many human tears and the shedding of much human blood.

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32 Responses to Let’s Pretend and the Gods of the Copybook Headings

  • Meanwhile, over to the East, the Putin bear is planning how he can make a bold move to take advantage of the most weakened western world since Marx and Lenin. Perhaps, he’ll wait until the UN climate change makes their move for power.

  • Your sentiments ring so true. I hope reality comes soon on a global scale. I’m utterly frightened of the world that my children will face, raising their children.

    Unfortunately for Greece, they got what they have deserved for so long.

    Their economy is a direct result of the peoples decision to vote in a Conmunist government. They don’t know how to manage money. This and the “slack” work ethic of the current working generation produces a complete disastrous outcome.

    And they STILL want handouts instead of a slap of reality ie. the logical and sensible tightening of the belt.

    The powers that be (whoever they claim to be) are complete morons.

  • “They don’t know how to manage money…”

    Ezabelle, I would argue that Marxists (by whatever name) very well know how to manage money and economies, but they seek different outcomes from it. You assume they seek to improve the economic life of its citizens (thereby allowing independence) when in fact they seek to bring everyone down that they might easily be controlled.
    Visit any marine boot camp and you’ll see the process of humbling and thus dependency upon (loyalty to) the government. (Those few who seek to control the masses)
    The key is that there can be no other choice allowed the people–hence, control of communications, indoctrination, and the destruction of western ideals and God’s Church which sets us free.

  • Meanwhile, over to the East, the Putin bear is planning how he can make a bold move to take advantage of the most weakened western world since Marx and Lenin.

    Marx died in 1883 and Lenin in 1924. Somehow I suspect the occidental world of 1942 which had seen a dozen years of economic depression and much of which was under occupation by the Axis powers, was weaker than it is today. (And, while we’re at it, Soviet Russia in 1979 was a more vigorous and threatening power than post-Soviet Russia is today).

  • I would argue that Marxists (by whatever name) very well know how to manage money and economies, but they seek different outcomes from it. You assume they seek to improve the economic life of its citizens (thereby allowing independence) when in fact they seek to bring everyone down that they might easily be controlled.

    Don, see Paul Hollander on this point. There was an implosion in morale among the Soviet managerial stratum when, ca. 1985, it suddenly was possible the disconnected problems in the economy that they knew about themselves. The notion abroad for many decades (in fragments of the occident and in the East Bloc) was that central planning was the way to run an economy for maximum output and broad distribution of benefits. I can show you textbooks and magazine literature that I was reading as late as 1985 singing the praises of ‘indicative planning’ (something different that the comprehensive bureaucratic authoritarian state and society you saw in Soviet Russia, to be sure); at the time, chatter about ‘industrial policy’ was all the rage among a certain sort of journalist-wonk (e.g. Robert Kuttner), among others. Characters like Boris Yeltsin visit the United States and see what’s available in an ordinary American supermarket (without lines out the door a block long) and the jig’s up.

  • “I can show you textbooks and magazine literature that I was reading as late as 1985 singing the praises of ‘indicative planning’ (something different that the comprehensive bureaucratic authoritarian state and society you saw in Soviet Russia, to be sure); at the time, chatter about ‘industrial policy’ was all the rage among a certain sort of journalist-wonk (e.g. Robert Kuttner), among others.”

    This from John Kenneth Galbraith in 1984:

    “Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower.”

  • I recall that a major issue in the USSR circa 1980 was that the managerial class came to understand that none of the metrics it was using to ‘plan’ the economy could be trusted. The need for secrecy and the widespread corruption resulted in informational anarchy. After the collapse the CIA was shocked to find that it’s estimates were too low: it turned out that the Soviet military-industrial complex occupied two-thirds of the total economy! The leadership was dancing in a hall of mirrors of its own making, and they simply could not effectively respond to the Reagan-Thatcher-Wojtyla challenge.

    In a sense the same thing happens in countries like Argentina and Greece with their economic manipulations. In this case it is the value of the currency that is the metric being polluted. The leadership fools itself into believing the value is what they say it is.

  • Whatever any Greek government does will be merely rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    The Greek birth-rate went into free-fall in the 1980 and the country now has a Total Fertility Rate of 1.34 children per woman. Given that the median age is 43.5 years, there are simply not enough women of child-bearing age to reverse the impending decline of the population.
    No economic nostrums will enable Greece, to cope with a rapidly growing population of dependent elderly. Like Japan, by the end of the century, their language will be spoken exclusively in hell.
    IEven Germany, despite its present prosperity, has a median age of 46.1 and a TFR of 1.38. That may enable them to die out more comfortably and, in the meantime, to purchase some amusements to reduce their boredom and anxiety as their nation sins into the grave.

  • I inteded to write “as their nation sinks into the grave.”

  • After the collapse the CIA was shocked to find that it’s estimates were too low: it turned out that the Soviet military-industrial complex occupied two-thirds of the total economy!

    Can you provide a reference for that? The CIA estimate was revised in 1976 at which time it was calculated that about a quarter of their output was devoted to military uses, rather than one-eighth, which was the previous estimate. Keep in mind, that under conditions of comprehensive national mobilization, a mean about 1/3 of American output was devoted to military uses during the period running from 1940-46. It’s indicative of how vigorous the government was at the time that it was reduced from over 40% to 6.7% in less than two years (1945-47), and the country weathered a severe recession to boot. The federal government ran budget surpluses in FY 1946/47, 1947/48, and 1949/50. (There was a recession in 1949, so there was a deficit in 1948/49). We aren’t the people we used to be.

  • This from John Kenneth Galbraith in 1984: “Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower.”

    If Mrs. McClarey has some time on her hands, you might ask her to produce a Kenneth Galbraith bibliography, omitting everything but refereed research papers in academic journals and working papers with similar content. You could add some monographs if they were historical works incorporating original research. That bibliography will be very, very short, his longevity notwithstanding. The man was an op-ed monster.

  • Gosh yes! 🙂 We all reject austerity don’t we?!
    Is the die cast? What can really be done to alleviate the austerity that is actually in our future- not as part of a grand plan, but actual hunger and drop in so called standards of living none the less.

  • And thank you for Kipling- pretty much unknown to me before TAC– and for Bill Whittle commentary

  • Alas, I am too young to be able to count on being dead before the inevitable Mother of All
    Market Corrections happens. The Chinese stock market has lost almost $3 trillion in
    value in the past two weeks, and keeps dropping. With Greece’s woes, the crash of the
    Eurozone is that much closer– and as intertwined as our economy is with the rest of the
    world, no one with any sense could think that we’ll escape unscathed here in the USA,
    where we’ve doubled our national debt in the past 6 years, and our financial industry
    is wildly, unsustainably over leveraged.
    .
    I’d be a bit less pessimistic if it weren’t for the thought that the oncoming crisis will be
    handled by the corrupt, feckless, malignant crop we currently have in Washington.

  • Russia may be weaker, but we are even more so–having lost all will to oppose evil and become quasi-socialists ourselves.
    It is wise to remember about the Putinized Russia, that it is the weak and wounded Tiger that becomes the man eater, and while the more noisy rattler makes loud noises warning you of danger, the silent cottonmouth or copperhead bites before you become aware of the danger.
    Russia, weak or otherwise, controls the life-blood fuel of Europe and has many times already intimidated her when they get advantage. They’ll not ignore the EU’s economic crisis and fail to see the best opportunity in many a year to make a move….while we wage war on CO2.

  • Alas, I am too young to be able to count on being dead before the inevitable Mother of All Market Corrections happens. The Chinese stock market has lost almost $3 trillion in
    value in the past two weeks, and keeps dropping. With Greece’s woes, the crash of the
    Eurozone is that much closer– and as intertwined as our economy is with the rest of the
    world, no one with any sense could think that we’ll escape unscathed here in the USA,


    China has been nursing bubbles in asset prices for years. Nothing surprising and nothing all that troubling unless their traders are up to their eyeballs in margin. The American stock market is only mildly over-valued. Greece accounts for only 2% of the Eurozone’s production and what has been happening is very well telegraphed. The real problem might be if there is a panic re Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian debt. There hasn’t been much change in the CDS spreads on the Spanish and Italian debt of late, just some flux. There has been some increase in the spreads on Portuguese debt, though the spreads are not any higher than they were last year.

  • Russia may be weaker, but we are even more so–having lost all will to oppose evil and become quasi-socialists ourselves. It is wise to remember about the Putinized Russia, that it is the weak and wounded Tiger that becomes the man eater, and while the more noisy rattler makes loud noises warning you of danger, the silent cottonmouth or copperhead bites before you become aware of the danger. Russia, weak or otherwise, controls the life-blood fuel of Europe and has many times already intimidated her when they get advantage. They’ll not ignore the EU’s economic crisis and fail to see the best opportunity in many a year to make a move….while we wage war on CO2.

    We have a bad elite, typified by the vapid and unscrupulous man who sits in the Oval Office. Some manifestations of that may improve in a year and a half. The notion that ‘we are even weaker’ I cannot credit. We have enormous productive capacity we did not have in 1941 and our economy and military dwarf in size that of every other country in the world bar China. Putin is engaged in a game of harassing countries on the Russian border. This is an expense and an irritant for the Ukraine. Donetsk is a long way from Warsaw, however. As for what Russia ‘controls’. Russia’s the most important component of the international export market in fuels, accounting for 12% of the total. They are also dependent on fuel exports for 70% of their foreign exchange. I tend to be skeptical they’re going to be running a general embargo on the rest of Europe.

  • In the long run this is probably good. Greece will be forced to put it’s house in order, kicking and screaming for sure. But the short run will be painful.

    ==========================

    Don

    On different note for your Kipling series, some recently put up a good video of the “Mary Gloster.”

    http://eclecticmeanderings.blogspot.com/

  • I do not believe the left are in a “let’s pretend” mode. That would be indicative of a modicum of innocence/virtue.
    .
    .
    I believe that from day one, say 1913 in the USA, the left’s modus has been let’s fabricate problems, tear it down, and replace it with what we control. It’s about power. It’s not about reform or change.
    .
    And, I believe the closest the left comes to analyzing the consequences of any ill-conceived experiment is a fleeting thought that “We will have control. How bad things be?”
    .
    Scratch a leftist and you find a totalitarian. As Gibbon wrote regarding Augustus, they are intent on reducing every one to an equal level of powerlessness, poverty and desperation so that they can readily control all.
    .
    When in the course of human events . . .

  • “Can you provide a reference for that? (After the collapse the CIA was shocked to find that it’s estimates were too low: it turned out that the Soviet military-industrial complex occupied two-thirds of the total economy!)

    Art, my recollection is that I saw that in a U.S. Naval Institute publication, probably a Proceedings issue.

  • “…as their nation sins into the grave.”
    MPS, it makes perfect sense that way too.

  • .
    “Scratch a leftist and you find a totalitarian. As Gibbon wrote regarding Augustus, they are intent on reducing every one to an equal level of powerlessness, poverty and desperation so that they can readily control all.”

    Absolutely correct–CONTROL is what it is all about–and DAMN the consequences to anyone.

  • TomD wrote, “…as their nation sins into the grave.”
    MPS, it makes perfect sense that way too.”
    Doesn’t it just?

  • Barbara Gordon wrote, “Absolutely correct–CONTROL is what it is all about–and DAMN the consequences to anyone.”

    Does no one read Carl Schmitt anymore?

    Schmitt, a Catholic conservative, argues that every realm of human endeavour is structured by an irreducible duality. Morality is concerned with good and evil, aesthetics with the beautiful and the ugly, and economics with the profitable and the unprofitable. In politics, the core distinction is between friend and enemy. That is what makes politics different from everything else.

    The political comes into being when groups are placed in a relation of enmity, where each comes to perceive the other as an irreconcilable adversary to be fought and, if possible, defeated. “Every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms itself into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively, according to friends and enemy.” “The political is the most intense and extreme antagonism,” Schmitt wrote. War is the most violent form that politics takes , but, even short of war, politics still requires that you treat your opposition as antagonistic to everything in which you believe.

    Of course, he denies the possibility of neutral rules that can mediate between conflicting positions; for Schmitt there is no such neutrality, since any rule – even an ostensibly fair one –represents the victory of one political faction over another and is merely the temporarily stabilised result of past conflicts.

  • “Every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms itself into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively, according to friends and enemy.”

    That’s a non-falsifiable proposition, MPS.

  • I recognize that “friend and enemy” duality– it’s a rephrasing of the Tribalism theory of human interaction. All for those inside of the group(classically, tribe- your relatives), nothing of value for those outside.

    It’s an observation on human nature, one that Christianity calls on us to overcome. (by expanding to all people, but that’s still overcoming)

  • Foxfier

    of course, Schmitt insists that Internal order can only be successdfully imposed as the necessary means of pursuing external conflicts. For him, a world government is impossible, for humanity has no enemy.

  • Schmitt insists that Internal order can only be successdfully imposed as the necessary means of pursuing external conflicts.

    So, imaginative construction replaces actual political sociology.

  • Art Deco wrote, “So, imaginative construction replaces actual political sociology.”

    As a jurist and political theorist, Schmitt is primarily concerned with the analysis of political concepts, their logical implications and their coherence.

    Every political community is based on a constitutive distinction between insiders and outsiders or friends and enemies. A democratic political community, as much as any other, must therefore rest on some marker of identity and difference that can ground an exclusive form of political equality which will only apply to insiders. His insistence that the political equality that constitutes a political community cannot be based on the non-exclusive equality of all human beings as moral persons, is analytical, not empirical.

  • As a jurist and political theorist, Schmitt is primarily concerned with the analysis of political concepts, their logical implications and their coherence.

    So what? The theoretical is insufficient. It is merely a prelude to the sociological and the historical.

    Every political community is based on a constitutive distinction between insiders and outsiders or friends and enemies.

    Please note the following: your first pairing is not coterminous with your second pairing; elegant assertion is not the same thing as demonstration, whether Carl Schmitt does it or you do.

  • Was not Schmitt excommunicated and effectively an atheist from his mid-twenties on? And while I dislike, generally, to exclude thinkers due to their associations- what wisdom could come from a man like Schmitt who helped to protect, justify and nurture the Nazis? Few read Schmitt, at least directly, anymore because he was barred from the academic world at his refusal to go through de-Nazification. Perhaps it is better for our us that this is so.

  • Hmmmmm asks, “[W]hat wisdom could come from a man like Schmitt who helped to protect, justify and nurture the Nazis?”

    What led Schmitt to collaborate with the Nazis from March 1933 to December 1936 was, above all, concern with order Along with many German conservatives, Schmitt saw the choice as either Hitler or chaos. But, political thought should not be evaluated on the basis of the authors’ personal political judgements.

    Acute theoretical analysis is perfectly compatible with poor practical judgment.

The Press

Sunday, February 15, AD 2015

 

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The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

 

Although he started out his career as an ink-stained member of the Fourth Estate, Kipling had little love for the press of his day, considering journalists to being gossip mongers who always focused on the trivial as they made up their inaccurate stories.  As a celebrity for most of his life, Kipling had many encounters with the press, few of them happy.  In September of 1899, Kipling put his frustrations with the Press into a poem, one of fifty that were lost to History and have recently been discovered:

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3 Responses to The Press

  • Kipling has a splendid poem on the newspapaper files, that he puts into the mouth of a sub-editor:-
    Oblige me by referring to the Files.
    Every question man can raise,
    Every phrase of every phrase
    Of that question is on record in the Files –
    (Threshed out threadbare – fought and finished in the Files…
    Where unvisited, a-cold,
    Lie the crowded years of old
    In that Kensal-Green* of greatness called the Files
    (In our newspaPère-la-Chaise the Office Files),
    Where the dead men lay them down
    Meekly sure of long renown,
    And above them, sere and swift,
    Packs the daily deepening drift
    Of the all-recording, all-effacing Files
    The obliterating, automatic Files…
    Trace each all-forgot career
    From long primer through brevier
    Unto Death, a para minion in the Files
    (Para minion-solid-bottom of the Files). . . .
    [*Kensal-Green is a London cemetery]

  • *delighted cackle* Gave me a great idea for house decoration!

But Is It Art?

Wednesday, September 10, AD 2014

When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,  
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;  
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,  
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”  
  
Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew—
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;  
And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain  
When the Devil chuckled: “Is it Art?” in the ear of the branded Cain.  
  
They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,  
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: “It’s striking, but is it Art?”
The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle derrick swung,  
While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in an alien tongue.  
  
They fought and they talked in the north and the south, they talked and they fought in the west,
Till the waters rose on the jabbering land, and the poor Red Clay had rest—  
Had rest till the dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start, 
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: “It’s human, but is it Art?”  
  
The tale is old as the Eden Tree—as new as the new-cut tooth—  
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;  
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,  
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: “You did it, but was it Art?” 
  
We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,  
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg,  
We know that the tail must wag the dog, as the horse is drawn by the cart;  
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It’s clever, but is it Art?”  
  
When the flicker of London’s sun falls faint on the club-room’s green and gold, 
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mold—  
They scratch with their pens in the mold of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start  
When the Devil mutters behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it art?”  
  
Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the four great rivers flow,  
And the wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept, and softly scurry through,  
By the favor of God we might know as much—as our father Adam knew.

Rudyard Kipling

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9 Responses to But Is It Art?

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  • OK – not my favorite – but the Babel reference was great.

  • I don’t know if it’s art but it’s Kipling so what’s not to like?

  • I love how he exposed his students with the phony Pollock “painting”.

  • “Pingback: Pope Francis Names Americans to Key Sex Abuse Panel – BP ”
    .
    It is important to understand that when the person consents to sin and crime, even before the act, that person excommunicates himself from God, from the Catholic Church and from his people. The criminal is self-ostracized, no exceptions even with inclusive language.

  • The spirit of the times expects us to like ersatz art and worse, ersatz statesmen.

  • I just watched the video. Well done. It’s an interesting subject to me. I personally believe that truth, goodness, and beauty all have an objective element to them. You can talk about a subjective aspect of them to some degree – truth and opinion, goodness and values, beauty and taste. I know very few people who believe in the idea of objective beauty. It’s a somewhat unpopular idea even among staunch traditionalists.

    One part of me thinks that the notion of objective beauty is a battle for another time. A society can function without that notion, albeit in an ugly way. When we’ve lost the notion of objective truth, well, that’s a much bigger battle. On the other hand, if we help people to allow themselves to admit that there is good and bad art, maybe that will prod them toward a greater acceptance of objectivity.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is consistency. I didn’t think that most people bothered with consistency in their personal philosophies – it requires more introspection than I though most people engaged in. But seeing the way that gay marriage and marijuana legalization have swept through the country lately makes me think that people actually think things through. I would have expected that the weight of old morality would have kept us from changing these laws, but it appears I was wrong.

  • “But seeing the way that gay marriage and marijuana legalization have swept through the country lately makes me think that people actually think things through.”

    Actually I rather think the reverse. I think many people today get their ideas from popular entertainment which actually explains a lot. Of course one must also recall that in regard to gay marriage it is largely judge imposed in most parts of the country, which supports my belief that a break down of moral reasoning, even an inability to do so except in the simplest of clichés, (I have a right to my own body, marriage equality, if I can have my beer he can have his joint), afflicts society as a whole and not just among those who never read a book.

  • I hope you’re right. Your thinking has fewer unpleasant implications, and it doesn’t require the assumption of intellectual consistency. There’s no way to untangle the ratios of cultural versus philosophical libertinism on the law.

If: Sound Fatherly Advice

Sunday, June 15, AD 2014

The twenty-eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here and here.
Nothing is more appropriate in all of Kipling’s writings for a Father’s Day than the poem If.
Written in 1895 as a tribute to the now forgotten Leander Starr Jameson, who helped set the stage for the Boer War, it was not published by Kipling until 1910 when it appeared in his childrens’ book Rewards and Fairies.
The poem takes the form of advice from a father to his son, and it is filled with the type of sage advice that the best of fathers attempt to pass on to bored children, hoping against hope that their kids will recall it in time of need.  Kipling had three children:  Josephine who died at eight in 1899,  Elsie who would live to be eighty and who died in 1976 and John “Jack” Kipling who died shortly after his 18th birthday fighting bravely at the Battle of Loos in 1915.  Kipling took the death of two of his children very hard, unsurprising since the grief that comes with the death of a child is  a temptation to bury oneself in a pit of despair for the rest of one’s  life.  However, Kipling did not do this, keeping his private grief private, and continuing his work, living out in his own life the advice that he gave in If:
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Man’s Best Friend

Tuesday, May 6, AD 2014

MaxGarden-300x293

There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie —

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find — it’s your own affair —

But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept’em, the more do we grieve;

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long —

So why in — Heaven (before we are there)


Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

Go here to Hot Air to read Jazz Shaw’s salute to his dog Max.  There is an old tale that when Adam and Eve were cast from the garden all the animals named by Adam turned their backs on them, except for the dogs who trotted out by their side into the Wilderness.

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13 Responses to Man’s Best Friend

  • I’m sorry for you Donald. As disloyal as it may seem I recommend finding a new companion. Chad died in 1997 and we rescued Sammie in 2011. My questions are: 1) who rescued who and 2)why did we wait so long 3)are we sure they don’t have dogs in heaven.

    They are certainly a gift from God to mankind. My wife’s Presbyterian pastor says if they aren’t in heaven he doesn’t want to go there. I must say that draws a certain sympathy. (don’t yell at me people, he is kidding).

  • My dog is still alive Steve although aging and infirm. Whenever Baby exits this Vale of Tears my wife and I will probably mourn for about a year before getting a new dog, which is what we did after Josie died in 1999 at age 17.

  • Opening your heart to love opens it to grief. Can’t stop loving, tho’
    Kind of weird and kind of sad that in Mr. Kipling’s time, 14 years was apparently considered an average lifespan for a dog; the minor fortune we spend on holistic food and topnotch veterinary care these days has not made any difference.

  • Donald, Sorry for the misunderstanding. Thats what I get for trying to read it on my phone.

    I read it on the computer this morning. I’m less touched putting it into context.

  • I’m NO less touched etc.

  • “3)are we sure they don’t have dogs in heaven.
    They are certainly a gift from God to mankind. My wife’s Presbyterian pastor says if they aren’t in heaven he doesn’t want to go there. I must say that draws a certain sympathy. (don’t yell at me people, he is kidding).”
    .
    A Protestant minister once said that if we love our animals, they will surely be with us in heaven, as a tribute to perfect love.

  • I know nothing more disconcerting than the look of blank astonishment with which a sheepdog – Border Collies at least – will sometimes greet one’s command.
    They obey, of course and then one realises that they were right – a vexing trait.

  • I recently viewed the movie “Heaven is For Real”. A little boy Colton had a Near Death Experience and when he described heaven, he said that it was full of animals, and that everyone was young, and noone wore glasses, and everything was brightly colored and beautiful. He described Jesus physically and said that Jesus held him on His lap and spoke to him. Jesus’ resounding message….we should not be afraid.
    .
    I thought of my beautiful little bijon frische Molly who died May 31, 2011 when I watched the movie and again as I read this post.
    .
    There are few things that can make me cry so easily.

  • Saint Thomas Aquinas speculated that everyone in Heaven will be 33, the same age as Christ at the Crucifixion.

  • 33 works for me. : )
    .
    Here is what little Colton says Jesus looks like….http://youtu.be/Eiq-JJpYIX8
    The young woman who painted the picture also had visions of Jesus as a four year old.
    .
    And finally, for those couples who have experienced a miscarriage…you will meet your baby in heaven. : )

  • Dogs (for me) are definitely one of God’s best works.Anyone who has lost one (or on more than one occasion…) can identify with the heartbreak.My last lost dog,little Mary, was gone as I held her in my lap at the exact moment that Andrea Bocelli began to sing “Ave Maria” from “Sacred Arias” one Sunday morning a few years ago. I now have little Lena living with me (as well as Donnie the cat that I adopted) and I love her too.I pray sometimes that God will permit me to have my furry friends with me if I make it to heaven.

  • For all dog loving Twilight Zone fans:

  • So they say all the animals, (except the dog), turned their backs on Adam? And the cat’s reaction was…?…
    .
    “I see the tall can opener and the short can opener both got kicked out of The Garden. meh.”
    .
    (The link brought a bit of a tear to my eye too.)

The Answer

Sunday, February 23, AD 2014

The Answer

We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.

Henry V to his brother prior to Agincourt, Henry V, Act III, Scene 6

The thirtieth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here, here and here.

 

Kipling, as I have often observed in this series, was not conventionally religious. Any man who could refer to himself as a good Christian atheist obviously would never qualify as being conventional in any sense in regard to faith.  However, many of Kipling’s poems do deal with religion, and few more powerfully than The Answer. At first glance a brief and simple poem, it deals with immensely complicated theological questions involving death, innocence, predestination and trust in God, a poetic rendition of the same issues raised in the Book of Job.

This poem, like Job, I suspect can only be understood completely by those afflicted with grief. The temptation when disaster overtakes us in this Vale of Tears, particularly disaster not brought on by any evil on our part, is to rail against our fate and against God.  This is natural, and it is always a mistake.  We are the children of a loving God and ultimately our response to what befalls us in this life can only be that of Job when he stands before God:

[1] Then Job answered the Lord, and said:

[2] I know that thou canst do all things, and no thought is hid from thee.

[3] Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge.

[4] Hear, and I will speak: I will ask thee, and do thou tell me.

[5] With the hearing of the ear, I have heard thee, but now my eye seeth thee.

[6] Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes.

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11 Responses to The Answer

  • Off topic, Donald McClarey.

    The Brazilian presidente, Dilma Rousseff, after visiting Pope Francis recently, said openly in her flight back that if Benedict XVI were still pope she will never visited him.

    Rousseff has things against Benedict XVI because he condemned abortion during Brazilian Elections in 2010. Her party, the same as Lula’s (former presidente), defends abortion.

    Her words follow the method divide to conquer, I do not know how Brazilian Catholics will read that (despite I am Brazilian). Brazilians are very low information voters, and Brazilian Catholics do not know much about Catholic Doctrine and about the real difference between Benedict XVI and Francis.

    However, it could be great to see how the world will read this.

    The news is in Portuguese, but you can use google translate:

    http://g1.globo.com/platb/blog-do-camarotti/2014/02/22/desabafo-de-dilma-nao-estaria-no-vaticano-se-bento-xvi-fosse-o-papa/

    Best regards,
    Pedro Erik

  • Yeah, Donald. This lady. Well done in remembering this.

    The worst thing is that Brazil (the biggest Catholic country in the world) does not care. People in Brazil are very illiterate regarding religion.

    But, Catholics in the world could send a message to this president and her demonic words.

    Many thanks.

  • Kipling uses his brush in ways that mimic the Masters. His oil are words. His canvass our hearts. The layers of oil bring to life what was one dimension, a canvass transformed.

    Thank you Mr. McClarey.
    I have enjoyed your ongoing tribute to Kipling.

  • I second Philip’s comment.
    While Kipling is not taken seriously as a poet by today’s experts, I have more faith in my heart and ears than in theirs.

  • Been thinking about The Gods of the Copybook Headings a lot during the past couple of weeks, with a lot of my usual favorite blogs praising “marriage equality”.

  • Predestination? I’m tempted to change…
    “We bound unto the task
    That thou shouldst might fall,
    and such an one should could ask.”
    Because we must beware of conceiving the immutability of predestination either as fatalistic in the sense of the Mahommedan kismet or as a convenient pretext for idle resignation to inexorable fate. God’s infallible foreknowledge cannot force upon man unavoidable coercion, for the simple reason that it is at bottom nothing else than the eternal vision of the future historical actuality. God foresees the free activity of a man precisely as that individual is willing to shape it. (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia)
    But my change is not quite right either. Guess I need to study up!

  • Also from the Encyclopedia, [Adequate] predestination refers to both grace and glory as a whole, including not only the election to glory as the end, but also the election to grace as the means… This is the meaning of St. Augustine’s words: “Prædestinatio nihil est aliud quam præscientia et præparatio beneficiorum, quibus certissime liberantur [i.e. salvantur], quicunque liberantur” (Predestination is nothing else than the foreknowledge and foreordaining of those gracious gifts which make certain the salvation of all who are saved). So the fallen Rose is a gift of grace, a præparatio for “such an one” to ask about.
    .
    The reference to Allah’s will still makes me nervous, though.

  • “The reference to Allah’s will still makes me nervous, though.”

    Ah, but note how God refers to Himself as “We”, a clear reference to the trinity by Kipling. In regard to predestination, God knew before time began all His actions, and one of his actions in the poem is to will that a rose would fall to save a soul from Hell, just as God knew before time began that He would die on a Cross to save us.

  • Pinky: “Been thinking about The Gods of the Copybook Headings a lot during the past couple of weeks, with a lot of my usual favorite blogs praising “marriage equality””.
    .
    This is about the free will act of sodomy. Being a same sex attracted person has nothing to do with any legislation. If the sodomites are going to insist that their free will act be legalized as though it were to define them as sovereign persons, they will have crippled the constitution. And themselves.
    .
    It is simply wrong for militant gay activists to slander all same sex orientated persons as active sodomites. If militant gay-activists wish to secure the Blessings of Liberty for all, they need to differentiate between the homosexual act and homosexual existence, for the act is an offense against God and the existence is beloved by God.
    .
    There can be no “marriage equality” if the gay militants, trying to in-culturate sodomy, include chaste, same sex oriented persons, without their informed consent or promise, to not marry opposite gender persons in matrimony. Chaste, same sex oriented persons who might marry opposite gender persons would put the lie to the gay agenda and to “marriage equality”. “Marriage equality” cannot be “equality” if chaste same sex oriented persons marry the “other sex” persons.

Cities and Thrones and Powers

Thursday, February 13, AD 2014

 

Like flowery fields the nations stand

Pleased with the morning light;

The flowers beneath the mower’s hand

Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Isaac Watts,  Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

 The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

Kipling will always be remembered as a British patriot and a lover of the British Empire.  Both of those facts are true enough, although Kipling was not blind to the faults of his nation and its empire, but Kipling also had the ability, shared by some true great artists, to step momentarily outside his time and place to make some imperishable commentary on the human condition.  Kipling did it in his poem Recessional, written on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, which rather than a rah, rah celebration of Great Britain, envisages a time when the glory and power of Britain and its Empire will have passed, one with Nineveh and Tyre, and a stark warning for his British contemporaries to use the power they currently possessed responsibly, and prays to God for mercy upon them.  This unexpected Jeremiad contains what I have always regarded as the most moving lines of poetry ever written by a secular poet:

 

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The Captains and the Kings depart:   
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Kipling returned to the theme of the transitory nature of earthly power in Puck of Pook’s Hill, 1906.  Ostensibly a children’s book combining History and Fantasy, Kipling put into it some of his deepest thinking on many subjects, including the poem Cities and Thrones and Powers which reminds us of the the fact that on this globe civilizations rise and fall like the flowers that bloom and die, but that like flowers the civilizations return in new guises:
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8 Responses to Cities and Thrones and Powers

  • Thanks for this overflowing cup of hope.

    “but with bold countenance, and knowledge small, Esteems her seven days’ continuance To be perpetual.”

    Personally this stanza relates precisely to the left. Bold faced yet lacking in the ways of natural law, ( moral knowledge or implementation of that knowledge. Even a respect of those who do.)

    And fooling themselves that there enlightened actions will stand the test of time.

  • psalm 103

    15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
    16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
    17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
    on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
    18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.

  • Anzylne.

    This is exactly why I love to frequent TAC. It’s the uplifting comments affirmations and perfectly placed scriptural quotes that fill my heart.

    You have done so just now. 🙂

    Thank you.
    A simple seeker of truth appreciates your faith and insights.

  • I love the Poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise”

    The first verse is my favorite.

    It always reminds me of my dad- he always taught his children to hold their head up high and just try. He still reminds us to this day.

  • Ez.

    Beautiful truths.
    Thanks for sharing.
    For good and bad his words ring clear in my past and the hope of today is to do as your father asked; “..to hold your head up high and just try.”
    Peace.

  • Phillip, yes Kipling’s words are very beautiful.

    We are all struggling in, what Mr McClarey refers to often, as “in this vale of tears.”

    Some more than others. Thank God for the hope of heaven.

    God Bless you always Phillip.

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The City of Brass

Tuesday, January 7, AD 2014

The twenty-eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here and here.

There is a curiously prophetic quality to some of Kipling’s poems.  He saw the birth of the welfare states, just as we are witnessing the death throes of such states.  He saw all too clearly where all this would lead.  For the poem we are looking at in this post, he took as his inspiration the tale of The City of Brass from the Arabian Nights, and shaped it into a prediction of how increasing taxation to pay for welfare would end up in disaster.  Kipling wrote the poem in 1909 in white heat in reaction to the so-called People’s Budget of Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George, the first British budget to explicitly call for raising taxes to redistribute wealth to establish what would become known as a welfare state:

This is a war Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.

(How many empty promises like that have been made in the intervening one hundred and five years!)  Lloyd George was ably assisted by Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, although Churchill would always reject socialism, and do so with more vigor as the years passed.

Passages in Kipling’s poem read as if they were current commentary on America in the Age of Obama:

“Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?

Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”

They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?

He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”

They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?

Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”

They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.

If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!

Kipling always had a strong distrust of the power of the State and as for the politicians who wielded that power he accurately summed up most of them in the phrase: “little tin gods on wheels”.  Here is Kipling’s poem:

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10 Responses to The City of Brass

  • The welfare state is inimical to the virtue of charity.

  • Thank you Donald.

  • Its so cold joke #2
    IT’S SO COLD… The government has its hands in its own pockets.
    Deut. 14:26-29 God informs the Israelites to bring their tithes (not taxes levied nor charity extorted by the government), but the tenth of their produce that the individual person deems and redeems. The faithful servant and the true steward is instructed to care for the Levites who have no share in the community property, the alien (slave), the orphan and the widow who belong to your community may eat their fill, so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake.
    Two things become apparent: 1) The individual chooses how much he will tithe in the virtue of charity. (This excludes the HHS Mandate and emphasizes human conscience) 2) The poor may eat their fill. In Justice, only life-saving measures are necessary to fulfill the virtue of charity. When the poor have enough to sustain life, they then, must make effort to sustain themselves. All of this is voluntary before the Lord.
    The HHS Mandate storm boots walk all over the citizens’ neck.

  • There was a time when people thought they could eradicate poverty and bring in something very much like the kindom of God. It was in this spirit that much work began during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As many have already cited, progress seemed inevitable until the Great War.

  • So much in this poem that speaks right to us today. This part jumps out “the excusers of impotence fled, abdicating their wardship”. It is so important that we do not excuse impotence. allow weak leaders to sink our ship.

  • “little tin gods on wheels”. reminds me of a phrase you like Mr. McClarey: “on stilts” : )

  • Kipling called ’em like he saw ’em Anzlyne! I like to think I do likewise.

  • “little tin gods on wheels”. reminds me of a phrase you like Mr. McClarey: “on stilts” : )
    Albert Einstein lived in Princeton, New Jersey, which he described as “a quaint little village populated by demi-gods on stilts”. This poem has sparked much interest in me of Kipling. I saw this nation in the poem but I read “practicing homosexuals” in the phrase: “…excusers of impotence” as surely as I read that all natural law was torn down, sanctions against all vices, pornography, licentiousness, lust, sloth, in these words: “Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
    The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
    As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries,
    And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;” I like this poem very much.

  • Don, thanks for your series on this. I’ve submitted this post (and by extension, all the previous ones) to my wife for inclusion in the home school curriculum. Kipling was someone I was a fool to ignore when I was in high school.

  • Thank you John. The main reason for this series is because Kipling tends to be ignored today or misremembered as a Colonel Blimp figure and either fate is a grave injustice to an original thinker and a literary genius.

His Boy Jack

Tuesday, October 15, AD 2013

kiplingMS2710_468x343

(I originally wrote this three years ago.  It is one of several posts that I wrote, that I now suspect was God’s way of preparing me for the loss of my son, Larry.  The last paragraph in the post I have found of great comfort now that I have experienced, and how I wish that cup had passed me by, the grief that Kipling knew.)

The third in my series examining the poems of Rudyard Kipling.  The first  is here and the second is here.

For most parents, when asked the question, “What is the worst thing in the world that could happen to you?”, the answer that comes terribly to mind is “The death of one of my kids.”  Kipling faced this horror with the death of his only son, John Kipling.  By all accounts, John Kipling was a bright and friendly young man.  When Great Britain entered World War I, Jack, as he was known, like most young men of his generation, decided it was his patriotic duty to enlist and fight for his country.  He attempted to enlist in the Navy, but was refused due to his bad eyesight.  His father used ever bit of influence that he could muster on behalf of his son, and obtained a commission for his son as a second lieutenant with the Irish Guards.  It should be clearly understood that Kipling did not force his son to go to war, but that rather he helped his son obtain his heart’s desire.

On his 18th birthday Jack landed in France.  Six weeks later he was killed at the battle of Loos on September 27, 1915.  Like so many of the dead during World War I, his body was never recovered.  His parents held out some hope that perhaps he had been taken prisoner, but from the moment he was reported missing they reconciled themselves to the fact that their boy was probably dead.  Their grief they kept private, befitting the dignity that used to be much more common than it is today.  In honor of his son, Kipling wrote a two volume history of the Irish Guards during the Great War.  I am sure Jack would have heartily approved.  His son’s name is only mentioned once in the history, among the dead in an appendix, something I am sure that Jack would also have approved, since he was of a time and place that valued restraint and quiet dignity.

Kipling also wrote two poems in honor of his son.  The first is entitled The Irish Guards:

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4 Responses to His Boy Jack

  • From ‘Epitaphs of the War 1914 – 1918’
    R. Kipling

    “A SON
    My son was killed while laughing at some jest. I would I knew
    What it was, and it might serve me in a time when jests are few.”

    “AN ONLY SON
    I have slain none except my Mother.
    She (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.”

  • Not to mention his epitaph for a dead statesman:

    I could not dig, I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue,
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tales can serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?

  • And,

    “COMMON FORM
    If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

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