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If. Rudyard Kipling

16 Jul 2016   Shanti Gowans
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!
                                                    Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)
                                                    Rudyard Kipling, 1865 – 1936

“If—” is a poem by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, written in 1895. The initial publication of the poem “If—” was in the “Brother Square Toes” chapter of the book Rewards and Fairies (1910), a collection of Kipling’s poetry and short-story fiction.

The poem is written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son, John.

As poetry, “If—” is a literary example of Victorian-era stoicism, the “stiff upper lip” self-discipline, which popular culture rendered into a British national virtue and character trait, “If—” remains a cultural touchstone. The British cultural-artefact status of the poem is evidenced by the parodies of the poem, and by its popularity among Britons.

In India, a framed copy of the poem was affixed to the wall before the study desk in the cabins of the officer cadets at the National Defence Academy, at Pune and Indian Naval Academy, at Ezhimala.

The Indian writer Khushwant Singh considered the poem “the essence of the message of The Gita in English.”





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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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