‘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 to good, nor talk to 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 now loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none to 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!


I read this poem for the first time during my junior year of high school. At the time I had zero interest in anything that had to do with school, especially english class. But after just a few weeks of dissecting poetry, I quickly developed a love and respect for the amount of passion that goes into a man’s words. I was no longer merely scanning over the letters that never seemed to end. Instead, for the first time in my life I was beginning to make a real connection with the author. I found myself feeling the emotions jumping off the page. All the sadness, the guilt, the joy, the excitement was now hitting me square in the jaw. I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened in the authors’ past to motivate these life-filled words. Was it the death of a loved one? Was it the birth of a child? Maybe it was overcoming a fear or finally facing a foe. Most of the time there was no answer, but that’s where the beauty lies. Because it’s not about telling their story, it’s about influencing ours. This particular poem ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling started it all.

Categories: Poetry

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