‘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 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!
Rudyard_Kipling_(portrait)
Rudyard Kipling

Born out of the pen of Rudyard Kipling, the author of the famous children’s fiction The Jungle Book, the poem If- is essentially a multitude of features an ideal human being needs to possess. The poem is written as an advice to his son, John, in which Kipling advises him to have the qualities of fortitude and stoicism and to stay resilient in the face of adversity.

The Nobel laureate lists out the characteristics one should possess for leading an exemplary life. According to him, an ideal man shouldn’t lose trust in himself but should consider the doubts of others. He shouldn’t indulge in telling lies or give way to hate.

The personification of Triumph and Disaster by Kipling is quite interesting. He says both of them are common in life and that neither is permanent; both are to be treated equally. One needs to be able to accept the fact that his/her words will be distorted by wicked people for gains.

He needs to have the courage to risk his belongings in a game of chance and not complain about losing. He should have the will power to keep things moving even when everything else fails. He should be able to treat people from all the strata of society fairly and not allow anyone to hurt him.

The final lines of the poem aptly describe time as unforgiving; it never stops no matter what. The secret of success lies here, in not wasting time and in spending it consciously. With all these, according to the poet, one can easily conquer the world!

Image source: Wikipedia.

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