Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;

from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-

he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

Posted by Joan of Argghh! at September 12, 2010 10:18 AM

And of course, Kipling's melancholy echo...


I am the land of their fathers,
In me the virtue stays;
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.

Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night,
The hours, the days and the seasons
Order their souls aright.

Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.

Posted by Robert at September 12, 2010 10:41 AM

Were those stirring words ever set to music, Gerard?

Posted by Jewel at September 12, 2010 12:41 PM

In response to Mr. Mencken, I prefer the legends of America to the lies said now. At least the legends acknowledged something grand and glorious.

Posted by Mikey NTH at September 12, 2010 6:53 PM

Kipling was one of the great poetic prophets of the 20th century, the other being W. B. Yeats ("The Second Coming"). I've always loved the poem "Recessional", but the one that has haunted me for the last two years is "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (referring to the classic quotes of wisdom and morals that used to be at the top of handwriting-practice booklets):
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

For a poem written 90 years ago, it is remarkably applicable to the present continuing crisis. ..bruce..

Posted by bfwebster at September 12, 2010 7:56 PM

Psalm 94 and 95:1-3.

O Lord, God of vengeance, come forth!
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
Give the arrogant what they deserve.

O Lord, How long will the wicked exult?
How long will they boast of their deeds and flaunt their evil?
They crush Your people, O Lord; they afflict Your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the stranger; they murder the orphan.
They say, "The Lord does not see;
The God of Jacob is not paying attention."

Listen, brutes!
Fools, when will you wise up?
Doesn’t the One, who set the ear, hear?
Doesn’t the One, who formed the eye, see?
Doesn’t the One, who teaches man, know?
Won’t the One, who punishes nations, punish you;
The Lord knows your thoughts;
Stop kidding yourselves.

Happy is the man You correct, O Lord, the man You teach from Your Torah;
You give him refuge in times of trouble; while a pit is dug for the wicked.
The Lord will not forsake His people; He will not abandon His inheritance.
Judgment will accord with justice; And the upright will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help, I would soon have gone to the silence of the grave.
If I say, “My foot is slipping," Your kindness, O Lord, supports me.
When I am filled with cares; You sooth my troubled soul.

Can a tyrant be Your partner - one whose decrees are evil?
Tyrants conspire against the righteous;
And condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord is my fortress;
My God is the rock that shelters me.
He reflects their wickedness back at them;
And will destroy them with their own evil;
The Lord, our God, will annihilate them.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord,
Let us shout for joy to our rock and our redeemer.

Let us greet Him with thanksgiving,
Let us sing joyful hymns to Him.

For the Lord is a great God
And a great King over the heavens and the earth.

Note: Joan's Antiphon is Ps 33:12-20

Posted by Fat Man at September 12, 2010 9:47 PM

Dear Jewel: If you are asking if "Recessional" was ever set to music, it was. Fifty three times.

Mikey, the legends of America weren't always legends. They, too, had to fight their way through the lies of the day. That's our opportunity today.

Since everyone else is citing RK favorites, let me offer, "The Disciple." This one bites. It can bite you, if you are not careful:


He that hath a Gospel
To loose upon Mankind,
Though he serve it utterly--
Body, soul and mind--
Though he go to Calvary
Daily for its gain--
It is His Disciple
Shall make his labour vain.

He that hath a Gospel
For all earth to own--
Though he etch it on the steel,
Or carve it on the stone--
Not to be misdoubted
Through the after-days--
It is His Disciple
Shall read it many ways.

It is His Disciple
(Ere Those Bones are dust )
Who shall change the Charter,
Who shall split the Trust--
Amplify distinctions,
Rationalize the Claim;
Preaching that the Master
Would have done the same.

It is His Disciple
Who shall tell us how
Much the Master would have scrapped
Had he lived till now--
What he would have modified
Of what he said before.
It is His Disciple
Shall do this and more....

He that hath a Gospel
Whereby Heaven is won
( Carpenter, or cameleer,
Or Maya's dreaming son ),
Many swords shell pierce Him,
Mingling blood with gall;
But His Own Disciple
Shall wound Him worst of all!

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by at September 13, 2010 1:18 AM

This has been one of the best threads, ever.

From the very long poem, The Present Crisis, we find this gem...somewhat modified.

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

Posted by Jewel at September 13, 2010 6:16 AM

Gregory....Melita. Perfect.

Posted by Jewel at September 13, 2010 6:21 AM

Another bit from Kipling, last stanza of "For All We Have and Are":

"No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all --
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?"

Posted by Ike at September 13, 2010 5:15 PM

Ah, yes. England, it must be said.
Her shipwrecked soul, a suicide.
Amnesia fogged her muddled head.
She asked, "Who lived, when England died?"

Posted by Jewel at September 13, 2010 10:25 PM

I think that in this context "England" ought to be taken as a metaphor for "the U.S.", Jewel; especially since that is what I'd intended.

Also, if you haven't read the poem in its entirety or haven't recently done so, here is the url to a public site: (I apologive if posting a url is not allowed. I didn't intend to make it a link.)

Posted by Ike at September 14, 2010 2:43 PM

I think, seeing Britain slowly die as she is misruled by cowards and traitors alike, England is a perfectly suitable metaphor for England. What can you say of a country that persecutes its citizens for flying its own flag? What can you say when the agents of social cohesion forbid English soccer hooligans from singing "Jerusalem" because it's divisive? Nope. England is England. Maybe Milque Toast is the better metaphor.

Posted by Jewel at September 14, 2010 5:09 PM

Ike, I read the whole poem, and it certainly could be speaking of America. It would be even better if Europe and especially Britain would rouse themselves from their slow auto-asphyxiation unto death spiral, too.

Posted by Jewel at September 14, 2010 6:35 PM

One mustn't let a discussion of Kipling pass without mention of Et Dona Ferentes:
In extended observation of the ways and works of man,
From the Four-mile Radius roughly to the Plains of Hindustan:
I have drunk with mixed assemblies, seen the racial ruction rise,
And the men of half Creation damning half Creation's eyes.

I have watched them in their tantrums, all that Pentecostal crew,
French, Italian, Arab, Spaniard, Dutch and Greek, and Russ and Jew,
Celt and savage, buff and ochre, cream and yellow, mauve and white,
But it never really mattered till the English grew polite;

Till the men with polished toppers, till the men in long frock-coats,
Till the men who do not duel, till the men who war with votes,
Till the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Lawrence took his grid,
Began to "beg your pardon" and-the knowing croupier hid.

Then the bandsmen with their fiddles, and the girls that bring the beer,
Felt the psychological moment, left the lit Casino clear;
But the uninstructed alien, from the Teuton to the Gaul,
Was entrapped, once more, my country, by that suave, deceptive drawl.

As it was in ancient Suez or 'neath wilder, milder skies,
I "observe with apprehension" how the racial ructions rise;
And with keener apprehension, if I read the times aright,
Hear the old Casino order: "Watch your man, but be polite.

“Keep your temper. Never answer (that was why they spat and swore).
Don't hit first, but move together (there's no hurry) to the door.
Back to back, and facing outward while the linguist tells 'em how -
`Nous sommes allong ar notre batteau, nous ne voulong pas un row.'"

So the hard, pent rage ate inward, till some idiot went too far...
"Let 'em have it!" and they had it, and the same was merry war -
Fist, umbrella, cane, decanter, lamp and beer-mug, chair and boot -
Till behind the fleeing legions rose the long, hoarse yell for loot.

Then the oil-cloth with its numbers, like a banner fluttered free;
Then the grand piano cantered, on three castors, down the quay;
White, and breathing through their nostrils, silent, systematic, swift -
They removed, effaced, abolished all that man could heave or lift.

Oh, my country, bless the training that from cot to castle runs -
The pitfall of the stranger but the bulwark of thy sons -
Measured speech and ordered action, sluggish soul and un - perturbed,
Till we wake our Island-Devil-nowise cool for being curbed!

When the heir of all the ages "has the honour to remain,"
When he will not hear an insult, though men make it ne'er so plain,
When his lips are schooled to meekness, when his back is bowed to blows -
Well the keen aas-vogels know it-well the waiting jackal knows.

Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float -
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat -
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite -
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!

How I long for that England to resurface.

Posted by apotheosis at September 16, 2010 8:54 AM

Some of Kipling's works may be found in the Episcopal Hymnal. At least the 1940 version. The 'revised' edition of the 1970s deleted Kipling's work as ... wait for it ... racist!

Posted by Stretch at September 16, 2010 5:22 PM

Bastiges! Low-down gormless, gutless bastiges.

Posted by Jewel at September 16, 2010 8:38 PM

Well, Mr. G, RealNetwork is doing well, but you
are missed here at Ye Olde American Digest.

I enjoyed your regular ethereal views on the
evolving scene, and doubt that RN will fill
that gap with your personal style and panache.

Posted by Robert at September 17, 2010 10:28 AM

Just a question - did I suggest this?

If so - okay - I'll preen a little bit. ('Cause I am vain enough to like preening and modest enough to admit it. see what I did just there?)

(P.S. - the little picture is still on the bulletin board and won't come down so long as I work there. I think it provides a great explanation for the 'if you see suspicious packages' postings on the same board. As in 'what follows what?'

Posted by Mikey NTH at September 17, 2010 10:26 PM