Thursday, June 23, 2005

If

If - An Inspirational Poem by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head
when all about you men are losing theirs
and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
but make allowances for their doubting, too.

If you can wait but not be tired of 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 but 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 imposters 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 them 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 to hold on when there is nothing in you
but the will that 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 60 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.



This is Rudyard Kipling's (1865-1936) inspirational poem.

I like this poem a lot for its simple words yet loaded meanings and I find different message each time I read it and what a priceless gem this is.

This poem "If" first appeared in his collection 'Rewards and Fairies' in 1909.

This poem is inspirational, motivational, and provides a set of rules for 'grown-up' living.

Kipling's 'If' contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development.

'If' is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy.

Lines from Kipling's 'If' appear over the player's entrance to Wimbledon's Centre Court - a poignant reflection of the poem's timeless and inspiring quality.

The beauty and elegance of 'If' contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling's largely tragic and unhappy life.

He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling.

In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.

Rudyard Kipling achieved fame quickly, based initially on his first stories and poems written in India (he returned there after College), and his great popularity with the British public continued despite subsequent critical reaction to some of his more conservative work, and critical opinion in later years that his poetry was superficial and lacking in depth of meaning.

Significantly, Kipling turned down many honours offered to him including a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Kipling's wide popular appeal survives through other works, notably The Jungle Book (1894) the novel, Kim (1901), and Just So Stories (1902).

Kipling is said to have written the poem 'If' with Dr Leander Starr Jameson in mind, who led about five-hundred of his countrymen in a failed raid against the Boers, in southern Africa.

The 'Jameson Raid' was later considered a major factor in starting the Boer War (1899-1902).

If we can do that in "If", won't our life be for the better?

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