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 all 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!
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story author, and novelist. He is widely popular still and is most remembered for tales of British soldiers in India and his children’s stories.
The poem came to my attention this past Saturday — it had years ago inspired a speaker that I enjoyed. Several of us looked for this poem after the speech; knowing that in it there would be lasting wisdom. There is.
Kipling’s poem was first published in a collection called the ‘Rewards and Fairies‘ in 1909. ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and it is a set of rules for spiritual living. These apparently are his mottos for living. The poem is a record for Kipling to prize personal integrity, virtuous community behavior and for self-development.
Rudyard Kipling began by a tragic and unhappy life somehow to mange and eventually to thrive. As a boy, he was not loved and given proper attention and he was sent away by his parents. He was beaten and abused by his foster mother. He was a failure at school.
It seems that his hardships aside that Kipling loved stories and he was inspired by his Portuguese nanny and by a particular Hindu bearer by the stories that they’d tell and their songs. He went on to become a prolific writer.
Kipling turned down honors offered to him including a British Knighthood, Poet Laureate, and the Order of Merit. He did in 1907 accept the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling’s most popular works include this poem and The Jungle Book, Kim, and Just So Stories.
The poem contrasts most of his works. George Orwell called Kipling a “prophet of British imperialism” so, he is possibly incomparable. Certainly, I enjoy his popular works. However, I think now of this poem to be a lasting record of Kipling’s spiritual refinements. I hope that this post will inspire others to carry on in a spiritual method for living that is evolved as highly (as the poem).
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