IIRC, it was printed at one end or the other of the short story "The Man Without a Country".
6th or 7th grade, I think. Maybe 8th.
First I ever heard of it. I've been through a few different school systems and none ever mentioned that. It's profound. College didn't bring it up either. Hmmm, wonder why? MJD
Yeah, but I bet he who is marked well had a kick ass mistress...
Boy, that's a powerful passage.
I think that's your answer, too. (BTW I went to high school in the 80s... never read poetry like that.)
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I Make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place.
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming They proomised 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 Heading 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 weree 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!
Ah yes, 1805, I remember it well...... (and if ya believe that I got some beach front property in Lubbock your gonna love)
Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, resigns as Governor-General of India.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense.
Louis and Clark's expedition reaches the Pacific Ocean.
The element Rhodium is discovered by English chemist William H. Wollaston.
Egypt secedes from the Ottoman Empire, Mohammed Ali proclaimed Pasha by Mameluke supporters.
Thomas Jefferson began his second term as president. (now there was President worth braggin about)
Battle of Trafalgar: Admiral Lord Nelson destroys French and Spanish fleets but loses his own life.
Treaty of St. Petersburg was signed, allying Britain and Russian against France.
Napoleon was crowned king of Italy in the Cathedral in Milan.
Battle of Austerlitz occurred: Napoleon's victory over the Austro-Russia.
United States signs treaty, ends war with Tripoli.
First U.S. covered bridge is erected over the Schuylkill River.
Sir Walter Scott writes "The Lay of the Last minstrel."
Friedrich Schiller died, (he wrote the play "William Tell" in 1804, btw) .
Beethoven composed the opera "Fidelio" that year.
Goya painted a portrait of Doña Isabel Cobos de Procal.
Mathematician William R. Hamilton, Jr was born.
And F.W. A. Sartürner isolated the drug morphine.
Spanish sign treaty with the Navajo Tribe at Santa Fe.
Not a bad year as far as the 1800s go..............
ps - IIRC, first time I read this was from a poetry book in the mid-sixties.
Reminds me alot of how I felt when I returned home after spending two years in Venzuela.
I believe I studied The Man Without a Country in junior high (67 - 70). Growing up in Central Texas, there was a local tie to the story. As you recall, fictional Lt. Nolan's brother, Philip Nolan, was a horse catcher in Texas. The small Bell County town of Nolanville, a notorious speed trap between Belton and Killeen on US190, was named for the real Nolan. He was killed by Spaniards near that spot, or so the legend goes.
I have never forgotten that line....."Breathes there a man with soul so dead, that never to himself hath said......."
BTW, my 7th grade Texas history teacher was a decorated veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. Like your Dad, he was a Texas Aggie. I wonder if Mr. Bob Simmons is still alive?