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Quiz about The Gods of the Copybook Headings
Quiz about The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The Gods of the Copybook Headings Quiz


Test your knowledge of this famous poem by Rudyard Kipling, or use this quiz as an introduction to it if you've never read it.

A multiple-choice quiz by skylarb. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
skylarb
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
404,067
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
15
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
11 / 15
Plays
207
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
- -
Question 1 of 15
1. A biographer of Kipling once referred to "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" as a "ferocious post-war eruption." With that in mind, in what year was the poem first published? Hint


Question 2 of 15
2. What were the "copybook headings" referred to in this poem? Hint


Question 3 of 15
3. This poem first appeared in an America periodical three months after its publication in London. In what New York City magazine of literature, culture, politics, and society, which has been in circulation since 1850, was the poem published? Hint


Question 4 of 15
4. "As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race, / I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of ____." What belongs in this blank? Hint


Question 5 of 15
5. Where were we living when the Gods of the Copybook Headings first met us? Hint


Question 6 of 15
6. The Gods of the Copybook Headings "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" where? Hint


Question 7 of 15
7. The Gods of the Copybook Headings, Kipling writes, were "utterly out of touch" with "the Hopes that our World is built on." Which of the following things did the gods NOT deny in Kipling's verse? Hint


Question 8 of 15
8. "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." To what is Kipling most likely referring in these verses? Hint


Question 9 of 15
9. Kipling writes, "And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'The Wages of Sin is Death.'" To what is this an allusion? Hint


Question 10 of 15
10. "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.'" Who originated the expression Kipling more harshly words here as "If you don't work you die." Hint


Question 11 of 15
11. "Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued ____ withdrew." What word is missing from this blank? Hint


Question 12 of 15
12. When the gods of the market tumble, people return to old-fashioned common sense again: "And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true / That All is not Gold that ___ - and Two and Two make Four." What word is missing from this axiom? Hint


Question 13 of 15
13. "There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: / That the Dog returns to ____ and the Sow returns to her Mire..." What does the dog return to?
Hint


Question 14 of 15
14. "And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins..." To whose writings is the phrase "brave new world" a reference? Hint


Question 15 of 15
15. "When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his ____." What word completes this line? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. A biographer of Kipling once referred to "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" as a "ferocious post-war eruption." With that in mind, in what year was the poem first published?

Answer: 1919

Sir David Gilmour used this "ferocious post-war eruption" phrase to describe Kipling's poem in his 2002 biography titled "The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling".

Kipling's poem was first published in London's "Sunday Pictorial" on October 26, 1919. The "Sunday Pictorial" was first published in 1915 and was renamed "The Sunday Mirror" in 1963. Kipling's poem was written shortly after World War I and can be read in the context of a post-War Britain.
2. What were the "copybook headings" referred to in this poem?

Answer: Proverbs or maxims written at the top of school copybooks

Copybook headings, which contained maxims or proverbs, would be placed at the top of children's copybooks in 19th century Britain. Children would copy these proverbs to practice handwriting and learn virtue. The "Gods of the Copybook Headings", therefore, have typically been defined by literary critics as the "inescapable conditions inherent in human nature" (JMS Tompkins) or "old-fashioned common sense" (Andrew Lycett), truths about humanity that persist no matter how advanced and enlightened people imagine themselves to be.
3. This poem first appeared in an America periodical three months after its publication in London. In what New York City magazine of literature, culture, politics, and society, which has been in circulation since 1850, was the poem published?

Answer: Harper's

The poem was published in Harper's in January of 1920. Harper's was launched in 1850 and is one of the oldest continuously published monthly magazines in America, second only to Scientific American. The title given to the poem in Harper's was "The Gods of the Copybook Maxims" rather than "Headings".
4. "As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race, / I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of ____." What belongs in this blank?

Answer: the Market Place

"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."

The unchanging truism of the maxims to be found in copybooks is juxtaposed with the fashionable, contemporary, and ever changing "Gods of the Market Place." "We moved as the Spirit listed," Kipling writes, while those old truths "never altered their pace." Literary critic Peter Keating writes that these gods of the market place "can be taken to refer to both trendy attitudes and the public figures associated with them."
5. Where were we living when the Gods of the Copybook Headings first met us?

Answer: in the trees

"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."

The poem suggests that man was once in a primitive state (living in trees) before being introduced to wisdom, common sense, and virtue ("the Gods of the Copybook Headings"), but in our hurry to progress ("the March of Mankind"), we left much of that wisdom behind. As Peter Keating puts it, "Throughout the ages mankind has always been jostled between wisdom and foolishness."
6. The Gods of the Copybook Headings "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" where?

Answer: in Rome

These verses suggest that while mankind confidently pursues progress, he is ultimately limited by the realities of human nature, which always catch up with him - a truth that is revealed as civilizations (such as Rome) rise and fall.

T.S. Eliot included this poem in his "Choice of Kipling's Verse".
7. The Gods of the Copybook Headings, Kipling writes, were "utterly out of touch" with "the Hopes that our World is built on." Which of the following things did the gods NOT deny in Kipling's verse?

Answer: that Beauty was Virtue

"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."

The copybook headings offer truths that are too stark and unappealing, so society denies them and instead rests its hopes on fantasies and worships the "Gods of the Market Place" who promise they can provide these unrealistic things.
8. "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." To what is Kipling most likely referring in these verses?

Answer: The Treaty of Versailles

Wales is "Cambria" in Latin. The Welshman Lloyd George was Britain's primary negotiator at the Treaty of Versailles, through which Germany was disarmed and Britain and the other powers agreed to gradually and progressively disarm themselves. Kipling was not a fan of this treaty. In these lines, he suggests that man imagines himself progressing (reaching a state of perpetual peace by voluntarily disarming), but fallen human nature is bound to rear its head again. Despite na´ve hopes to the contrary, wars will inevitably erupt, and of course World War II did later erupt.

"But when we disarmed they sold us," Kipling continues, "and delivered us bound to our foe, / And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'Stick to the Devil you know.'"
9. Kipling writes, "And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'The Wages of Sin is Death.'" To what is this an allusion?

Answer: The Epistle to the Romans

The allusion is drawn from Romans 6:23, "for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (KJV). This line in context in Kipling's poem reads:

"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."

"Feminian" here is not a real word, but the "Feminian Ssandstones" might allude in part to the emancipation of women that occurred in 1918 in Britain. These lines offer a prophecy of a gradual decline in society even as it presumably progresses. While the sexes become more equal, at the same time the family declines, with women increasingly forgoing childbirth and men losing a sense of purpose ("reason and faith") and turning to infidelity (coveting "his neighbor's wife").
10. "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.'" Who originated the expression Kipling more harshly words here as "If you don't work you die."

Answer: The Apostle Paul

"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.'"

These verses suggest that the hopes of collectivism are na´ve because they ignore human nature - that is, people often cease to work when they are just as likely to be paid the same or nearly the same for not working. Therefore, little is produced for lack of work and thus there is little to distribute ("there was nothing our money could buy").

In the early church, Christians had "all things in common," but this proved problematic, causing the Apostle Paul to issue a command: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10, KJV).

This maxim (often worded "he who does not work shall not eat") was famously repeated by Captain John Smith at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia, when people began to slack off of work. It was even said by Lenin in the Russian Revolution.
11. "Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued ____ withdrew." What word is missing from this blank?

Answer: wizards

Kipling uses a bit of alliteration here with "wizards withdrew." The choice of "wizards" suggests that those who supported the "Gods of the Market Place" were not as scientific or practical as they may have pretended, but were only offering a sort of fantastical magic that could not withstand reality in the end.
12. When the gods of the market tumble, people return to old-fashioned common sense again: "And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true / That All is not Gold that ___ - and Two and Two make Four." What word is missing from this axiom?

Answer: glitters

"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."

Once humbled, people are willing to acknowledge the significance of the old-fashioned axioms again, such as "all is not gold that glitters." Although this saying goes back a long time, the modern English version is most nearly derived from a line in William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" when one of Portia's suitors chooses to open the golden casket only to find his suit rejected with this note:

"All that glisters is not gold-
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well. Your suit is cold-"
13. "There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: / That the Dog returns to ____ and the Sow returns to her Mire..." What does the dog return to?

Answer: his Vomit

Kipling here hammers home that social progress does not negate the realities of human nature or man's tendency toward foolishness. "The dog returns to his vomit" comes from Proverbs 26:11: "As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."

Kipling underscores that adage as he continues:

"And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire."
14. "And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins..." To whose writings is the phrase "brave new world" a reference?

Answer: Shakespeare

In Shakespeare's play "The Tempest", Miranda says, "O brave new world, that has such creatures in't" (Act V. scene 1 line 183). These lines imply a certain hubris in those who imagine the old truths will not continue to bind them as they march into what they imagine to be a "brave new world."
15. "When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his ____." What word completes this line?

Answer: sins

Here, "sins" rhymes with "begins" at the end of the previous line:

"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!"

In this "brave new" modern world without old-fashioned judgment, where people are not being held accountable for their sins and are being paid merely "for existing," Kipling suggests, eventually we will be confronted with the harsh realities represented by the old maxims, those truths that cannot be escaped.
Source: Author skylarb

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