Kipling Poem?
October 8, 2016 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Trying to find a half-remember verse that goes vaguely like "(something something)/ever since the world began/for those who have to keep/and those to take who can" - thought it might be Kipling but Google won't help me.
posted by tspae to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it "Gods of the Copybook Headings"?

...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!

posted by Bardolph at 1:24 PM on October 8, 2016

I doubt this is exactly what you're looking for, though it might be an ancestor:
you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.
posted by jamjam at 3:32 PM on October 8, 2016

This is lateral but it sounds more like Alexander Pope to me - like this one.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2016

Joseph Furphy - A Psalm of Resignation has the line "ever since the world began," and sounds very Kipling-y.
posted by soelo at 7:29 PM on October 8, 2016

This is unlikely, but perhaps:

Since ever the world was spinning
And till the world shall end
You've your man in the beginning
Or you have him in the end,
But to have him from start to finish
And neither to borrow nor lend
Is what all of the girls are wanting
And none of the gods can send.

Out of "Emily's Quest", L.M. Montgomery.
posted by Nyx at 11:55 PM on October 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Okay, I'm impressed. No cigars, but impressive heights! Thanks to all! Praise the hive-mind!
posted by tspae at 11:59 PM on October 8, 2016

Searching Google books, I found this :

"...the cynics, who believe, or seem to believe, that international politics is nothing but the struggle of selfish forces, and that the only rule in international affairs is for those who have to keep their power, and those to take who can."

appears somewhere in The United States and the Caribbean by Dexter Perkins (1947). I believe it's i the preface or other prefatory material (page xi).

This is hardly the reference you are looking for, but it strongly suggests that it's from some fairly well-know source.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:30 PM on October 9, 2016

I half-remember
Still the ancient story; still the ancient plan;
Let them take who have the power -- let them keep who can.
but not well enough to find the original.
posted by clew at 1:24 PM on October 9, 2016

Kipling? Tennyson? Housman? Longfellow? Neither the sentiment nor the meter are rare.
posted by clew at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2016

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