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If – by Rudyard Kipling

Today I wanted to share with you what has come to be my all-time favorite poem.

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 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-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 breath 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!

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12 replies
  1. ditchu
    ditchu says:

    I plan on giving this poem to my son, sometime when he reaches one of those mileposts about becomming a man. Maybe about 16y/o. Not too earily that the effect is lost but not too late as so it will help in his development.

    Kippling is one of the greats, but I like Longfellow the best.
    -D

    Reply
  2. Eric Nielson
    Eric Nielson says:

    One part of this I don’t quite get is the winnings/risk gamble. Why is this level of risk taking a virtue?

    I am not trying to throw stones, just trying to gain a better understanding of the virtue of risk taking.

    Reply
  3. Rusty Lindquist
    Rusty Lindquist says:

    That’s a really good question. I interpret that to mean that there are times when, to reach our fullest potential, we have to exert a certain amount of risk. We have to put ourselves on the line. We have to leave the comfort of the known and accept the possibility that by so doing, we just might fail, we just might lose it all, but be willing to stretch ourselves just the same. And then if we do lose, if we do fail, we simply keep going.

    In my mind, he’s describing what I cover here “Reconciling hope and failure”.

    What I don’t think he’s talking about, is carelessness, foolishness, or risk for the sake of risk (gambling, per say). But rather a state of mind that encourages us to reach farther, even when we know we might miss.

    Reply
  4. ditchu
    ditchu says:

    “I’d wager that Kippling was a betting Man.” Just a little humor… But on the serious side of this small issue of the Risk and losing it all, I think the valor comes to us with what we do when we have lost.
    It is like love, you never really love what you cannot lose. I noticed this truth when my wife threatened one day to walk out on me when I was being a pompus hinney in our relationship and loading her down unfairly with the house work. Well I also noticed at that time that I could have lost her and that re-sparked my intent on keeping her close who is precious to me.

    Or is it a metaphor of raising kids someday I will have to toss it all to the wind, and see if my Boy can “Take flight, or fall, depending on his own abilities and choices. I cannot always intervine and protect him from everything. It is no measure of a man to hold the control over his family, but to be able to govern with kindness, gentilness and love, to make the decisions after everyone has had their say, that is the position of father and husband.

    Maybe I am getting too deep in this.. I’ll leave it to you all now.
    Peace,
    -D

    Reply
  5. owen59
    owen59 says:

    It rings a bell, so perhaps I read it as a youngster (B.TV). It is fabulously inspirational, although as I creep close to that 50th birthday, I feel the pain that has drawn that poem from Kipling’s soul, like a poultice draws pus from a wound, and later, when the wound is healed, when the outcome is achieved, there is recognition that indeed it was the right path. But while testing the path, what conundrum’s, and I think Kipling has also alluded to them here.

    Reply

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