Thursday, November 06, 2008

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!

6 comments:

- K said...

I love this poem (even if it's by the same poet who wrote "The White Man's Burden"). During the Democratic primary, I remember e-mailing it to someone and saying that it describes why Obama would win, at least from a character point of view.

And this line is one of the most brilliant I've read in poetry:

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same"

noha said...

Ah yes, the white man's burden. As I was posting, there was something nagging at me, in the back of my mind, and I couldn't figure out exactly what it was but it was saying "what is it about Rudyard Kipling that bothers you so much? isn't there something racist there somewhere?" but I loved the poem too much not to post...
As for your comment about Obama, it's absolutely true... He has a first class temperament, to quote every pundit. and those two lines of poetry are just so so so astute.

citizen of the world said...

Wait, running off to look up White Man's Burden.....

.... Oh Lord! "Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child." I had somehow never encountered this. Yikes.

But I also like the poem. Funny how wisdom can be found even from people you might otherwise find appalling.

- K said...

COTW, I'd also recommend the 1899 response, "The Brown Man's Burden", by another poet. It's either a good way to cheer yourself up or depress yourself more after reading Kipling's original.

noha said...

K, my favourite lines from Brown man's burden:
Pile on the brown man's burden,
compel him to be free;
Let all your manifestoes
Reek with philanthropy.
And if with heathen folly
He dares your will dispute,
Then, in the name of freedom,
Don't hesitate to shoot.


COTW, words of truth: "Funny how wisdom can be found even from people you might otherwise find appalling"... Sometimes you learn best from something you absolutely DON'T want to be.

Zhu said...

Love this poem as well... hadn't read it in a while.

This is the best of Kipling...