Friday, March 30, 2012


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:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Wikipedia link.
The Wiki article seems awfully narrow in its description and understanding of the poem.  Nothing is mentioned about the millions of American boys that receive graduation cards with that poem as the message.  Maybe it is no longer acceptable to present boys trying to become men with that poem.

On the other hand, maybe more adult men should re-read the poem occasionally.
And some women, too.  The thoughts hold true regardless of the sex of the reader.
Staying calm in the face of calamity, esp. a false calamity, has a lot of merit.

One thing I didn't know, but should have expected, was that this Kipling poem was yet another where the inspiration came from a British Empire battle or war.  My now-ex father-in-law's favorite poet was Rudyard Kipling.  I don't understand why, because his thoughts were more along the lines of a matured Mark Twain as regards war.  When Roland died, I spent a long time searching through a volume of Kipling poems looking for something appropriate to read at the small graveside gathering (five people if I recall correctly) we had as a last remembrance of Roland.  There was a larger gathering for the "celebration of life", but the graveside gathering, at the grave of Roland's older brother Mack, was quite small and intimate.  Anyway, I guess I should not have been surprised to learn that a battle had inspired the poem.

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