If – 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!

Posted in Poetry
19 comments on “If – Rudyard Kipling
  1. IF – Rudyard Kipling
    Rudyard Kipling was a British author and famous for his work. His poem ‘If’ seems to be very inspirational and motivational to people. It has also been said that the poem has blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. “The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life” this means that in his past life he has had tragedies, and this poem is linked to the way he felt. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school. Later on in life, the deaths of two of his children also affected him muchly.
    Eventually but very quickly, his fame begun very popular. He wrote many poems e.g Jungle Book.

  2. Profile photo of ellie taylor ellie taylor says:

    • Empire-building: Kipling was inspired by a failed British raid against the Boers in 1895.
    • The poem exhorts the reader to be patient, honest, and forthright, especially when faced with opposition and temptation to act in a less virtuous manner.
    • The strong emphasis on balance in “If” possibly reflects an oriental influence on Kipling’s own life philosophy.
    • Kipling’s thoughts on action without desire, equanimity, humility, and uprightness
    • The “if’s used in the poem show the small stumbling blocks on the way to full maturity from a boy to a man.

  3. Profile photo of Kate Kate says:

    If – Rudyard Kipling

    • The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living.
    • Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. ‘
    • If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy.
    • Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – a poignant reflection of the poem’s timeless and inspiring quality.
    • The poem exhorts the reader to be patient and honest.
    • The strong emphasis on balance in “If” possibly reflects an oriental influence on Kipling’s own life philosophy, as a basic teaching of Buddhism is the quest for what is known as the Middle Way—a quest for balance in the search for spiritual enlightenment.

  4. Profile photo of Becky Peters Becky Peters says:

    The poem deals with life’s challenges and how to deal with them.

    Stanza One is about being confident and talks about the decisions you have to make in life, also taking responsibility for those decisions. But if there is someone who cannot take responsibility for themselves and their actions which makes them react negatively, you should be patient with them and not go down to their level by telling lies or dealing in hate as this will make you the bad person you don’t want to be. However, don’t ever think you are above others and be selfish in life as you are no better than anyone else in the world.

    Stanza Two shows that it is good to dream, but don’t let your dreams control your life. It is good to think, but you should make those thoughts a reality. You will experience disasters in your life, but you should never take them too seriously as they don’t control your whole life. If you get knocked down by someone, then pick yourself back up and use all the strength left in you to do so.

    Stanza Three talks about how you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks in life and especially to not automatically think negativity and think you’re going to lose everything when you take these risks. If you do lose everything, don’t make a big deal out of it and make a change. Start from the beginning, start fresh and try and try again. When you are tired and exhausted and you feel like you have no energy to carry on, don’t give up. Use your mind and tell yourself to stop and carry on. Push through it and be the strongest you’ve ever been.

    Stanza Four tells us how to deal with others. You need to be able to talk to large groups of people, discuss ideas and not let them tell you what’s right and wrong and what you should think. You need to know yourself and your beliefs so well that neither your friends nor your enemies can hurt you because you know who you are and what you believe in. People can depend on you, but don’t let others become too dependent on you as you could be the one getting hurt in the end. You need to live every single minute of your life to the fullest because you never know when it’s going to come to an end. If you do these things, then the world is your oyster, and you will be a good person, get through life and be strong when it comes to these challenges in life.

  5. Profile photo of Gregory Mond Gregory Mond says:

    Summary on the Poem If by Rudyard Kipling’s

    Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936) inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living. The poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. ‘If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it. The poem’s line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same” is written on the wall of the player’s entrance at Wimbledon.
    The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply. For the unlikely truth is that they were composed by the Indian-born Kipling to celebrate the achievements of a man betrayed and imprisoned by the British Government – the Scots-born colonial adventurer Dr Leander Starr Jameson. Although it may not seem so to the millions who can recite its famous first line (‘If you can keep your head when all about you’), If is also a bitter condemnation of the British Government led by Lord Salisbury, and the duplicity of its Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, for covertly supporting Dr Jameson’s raid against the Boers in South Africa’s Transvaal in 1896, only to condemn him when the raid failed.
    Kipling was born in Bombay, India, at the end of the year 1865. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was principal of the Jeejeebyhoy School of Art, an architect and artist who had come to the colony, writes Charles Cantalupo in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. His mother, Alice Macdonald, had connections through her sister’s marriage to the artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones with important members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in British arts and letters. Kipling spent the first years of his life in India, remembering it in later years as almost a paradise. In 1871, however, his parents sent him and his sister Beatrice—called “Trix”—to England, partly to avoid health problems, but also so that the children could begin their schooling. Kipling and his sister were placed with the widow of an old Navy captain named Holloway at a boarding house called Lorne Lodge in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth. Kipling and Trix spent the better part of the next six years in that place, which they came to call the “House of Desolation.” The years from 1871 until 1877 became, for Kipling, years of misery. For he was being bullied by the widow.
    Rudyard Kipling achieved fame quickly, based initially on his first stories and poems written in India (he returned there after College), and his great popularity with the British public continued despite subsequent critical reaction to some of his more conservative work, and critical opinion in later years that his poetry was superficial and lacking in depth of meaning.
    Significantly, Kipling turned down many honours offered to him including a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling’s wide popular appeal survives through other works, notably The Jungle Book (1894) the novel, Kim (1901), and Just So Stories (1902). Unpopular political views caused his work to be neglected shortly after his death.

  6. Summary:
    RUDYARD KIPLING was born in Bombay on December 30th 1865, son of John Lockwood Kipling, an artist and teacher of architectural sculpture, and his wife Alice. His mother was one of the talented and beautiful Macdonald sisters, four of whom married remarkable men, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Poynter, Alfred Baldwin, and John Lockwood Kipling himself.
    The poem is a paean to British stoicism and masculine rectitude; almost every line in each stanza begins with “If”. It is subtitled “‘Brother Square-Toes’ – Rewards and Fairies”.
    This is, without a doubt, Kipling’s most beloved poem, and, along with “The White Man’s Burden”, his most famous. Although T.S. Eliot would deem it only “great verse” and others “jingoistic nonsense,” it is consistently ranked among the highest, if not the highest itself, of Britons’ favourite poems. It was first published in the “Brother Square-Toes” chapter of Rewards and Fairies, a 1910 collection of verse and short stories.
    Although Kipling is perhaps most famous for his short stories like “the jungle book” he was just as famed for his verse as his prose. His work, which is staggering in number, consists of such major poems as “If”, “The White Man’s Burden”, “The Ballad of East and West” and “gunga Jim”, “Mandalay” and “Danny deever” He wrote poetry throughout his life and published in newspapers, magazines, and collections and anthologies.
    In this poem Rudyard Kipling uses a simple two letter word “if” It usually describes something that isn’t real, or isn’t real yet. It points to something could potentially happen, or potentially exist. Think of it like this: if somebody says to you “if you go to the store, you can buy soda,” they are saying “hey, you haven’t gone to the store, and you might not go to the store, but if you do go, then you can get some soda.” So, the word “if” usually describes something that doesn’t yet exist (you haven’t gone to the store yet), but also implies that some other things will happen: you will be able to get soda once you’re there. (We’re going somewhere with all this—just bear with us.)
    This is the basic idea of Kipling’s poem. It is 32 lines of things that the speaker’s listener hasn’t done yet (learned to be strong, patient, wise, etc.). If he does them, but only if, then he will basically have possession of the entire world a metaphor for power, a fulfilling life, and other things). What’s more, the listener will be a man. In short, the title tells us that “If” is a poem about how certain things must be done. Only if those things are done, will certain other things happen.

  7. Rudyard Kipling’s inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living.

    Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development.

    ‘If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy. Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – a poignant reflection of the poem’s timeless and inspiring quality
    The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.

    The poem is a paean to British stoicism and masculine rectitude; almost every line in each stanza begins with “If”. It is subtitled “‘Brother Square-Toes’ – Rewards and Fairies”.

    While the poem is addressed to Kipling’s son John, it was inspired by a great friend of his, Leander Starr Jameson.

    “If-” contains a multitude of characteristics deemed essential to the ideal man. They almost all express stoicism and reserve – the classic British “stiff upper lip.” In particular, a man must be humble, patient, rational, truthful, dependable, and persevering. His behavior in response to deleterious events and cruel men is important; he must continue to have faith in himself when others doubt him, he must understand that his words might be twisted and used for evil, he must be able to deal with the highest and lowest echelons of society, and he must be able to withstand the lies and hatred emanating from others.

    This group of ideal characteristics is similar to those expressed in “The Thousandth Man”, another poem dealing with manhood.

  8. Profile photo of Hannah White Hannah White says:

    Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is perhaps his most famous poem. Kipling composed the poem in 1909 while living in Great Britain. It was first published in 1910 in Kipling’s collection “If” attracted immediate nationwide attention in Britain, and it was quickly adopted as a popular anthem.
    “If” is a didactic poem, a work meant to give instruction. In this case, “If” serves as an instruction in several specific traits of a good leader. Kipling offers this instruction not through listing specific characteristics, but by providing concrete illustrations of the complex actions a man should or should not take which would reflect these characteristics.
    Rudyard Kipling, a English poet lived from 1865-1936. He also wrote many children’s stories. The poem’s line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same” is written on the wall of the player’s entrance at Wimbledon.
    The poem If by Kipling is a celebrated piece of poetry which has a lesson of value for almost every reader. If by Rudyard Kipling is something that can be perceived as a set of virtues laid down by the poet which are conducive for the development of a good human being.

  9. If – Rudyard Kipling

    Information of the poem and the author

    The poem was written by a British poet in 1895. It was later published in rewards and Fairies in 1910.

    The poet Rudyard Kipling was born December 30, 1865 and died January 18, 1936

    What is the poem about?

    Some people believed that he wrote the poem form his son.

    The poem was used as a piece of propaganda for the Second World War.

  10. Profile photo of Leah Coggins Leah Coggins says:

    The word ‘if’ starts at the beginning of every stanza…
    The first stanza starts with self-confidence, and is about the decisions you make and taking responsibilities for them. It’s also saying that it doesn’t matter if the person knows the truth even if they are blamed and doubted, and you should never listen too/work with those who don’t tell the truth. It’s telling us to never show off or be arrogant to others.
    The second stanza is about dreaming, but not letting your dreams control your life, it is also stating that it is good to think, but don’t just think and not put those thoughts into action. You will experience triumph and disasters in your life, if you hear things you said misused or things you have done destroyed, you need to be able to pick yourself up and rebuild them with everything that you have left in you.
    The third stanza says don’t be afraid to take risks and possibly lose everything. If you do lose everything, don’t talk about it, just start all over again at the beginning. Also when you are tired and exhausted and your body just feels like it can’t continue on, use your mind and your will to tell yourself to “Hold on” and persevere.
    In the fourth stanza it deals with a person’s reaction to others, it says you need to be able to talk to large groups of people and not let them influence your belief in what is right or wrong. You need to know yourself and your beliefs so well that your friends or your enemies can’t hurt you because you know who you are and what you stand for. People can depend on you, but don’t let others become too dependent on you. You need to live every single minute of your life to the fullest. If you do these things, then the world is yours, and you will be a good man.

  11. Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936) inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. When we come across this simple little title, our immediate reaction is naturally, “If what?” The word “if” usually describes something that isn’t real, or isn’t real yet. It points to something could potentially happen, or potentially exist. The poem is a motivational and inspirational guide for those who are looking for answers. The word if sets an explicit set of understood regulations for maturing in the world almost like a form of Decalogue. Kipling’s ‘If’ is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. The Poem ‘if’ refers to life and its challenges, helping people to overcome them. While the poem is addressed to Kipling’s son John “you’ll be a Man, my son!” it was inspired by a great friend of his, Leander Starr Jameson, the Scottish-born colonial politician and adventurer.

  12. Profile photo of Imogen Crock Imogen Crock says:

    The poem supplies a guide for how life is honest and successful life. It is written in first and second person. His use of “you” makes the poem seem as though it is addressed directly to the reader.

    1st stanza
    It starts with ‘if’ and establishes that the person might face it in life. It focus on self-confidence that you should trust in your own abilities. A person may be blamed and doubted; it does not matter if the person knows the truth. Keep an even keel in whatever happens. Be patient. Do not listen to lies or work with those who do not tell the truth. Also teaches you that hate should not be in a mans life. Also that you should never try to show off.

    2nd stanza
    That you can dream and live on your dream. Thoughts and thinking are important as well. However there is more to life.
    “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;”
    Winning is easy but losing is hard. A man has to learn to handle both sides of the situation with grace and go on with his life.

    3rd stanza
    Risk and loss are all part of life. If a person gambles all and loses in a foolish game, the only thing to do is start over again. Never to give up or talk about loses with others. People have to work hard beyond their physical ability. They have to work till they achieve their goal.

    4th stanza
    When you talk to the middle of men, he should not give up his honesty. He must never forgot who he is. He will have friends and enemies but he must never allow them to harm him. People should be a great part of his life but you should never depend on them to much. Never should waste time. Every moment of the day should be used wisely. If they live there life pre planned everything they want will come to them. A person will be hailed as a true and good man if the follow these steps

  13. Profile photo of Aaron luff Aaron luff says:

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay
    Kipling died in 1936 at the age of 70
    Kipling turned down many honours offered to him including a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature.
    If was written in 1895
    First published in Rewards and Fairies, 1910.
    Almost every line in each stanza begins with “If”. It is subtitled “‘Brother Square-Toes’ – Rewards and Fairies”.

  14. • It is a poem by British Nobel Laureate Kipling, written in 1895.
    • The poem is a tribute to Leander Star Jameson.
    • The poem was written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son, john.
    • John was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915
    • The well-known Indian historian and writer khushwant Singh claims that Kipling’s “if-“Is “the essence of the message of The Gita in English.
    • Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936) inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909.
    • The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living
    • The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life – He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.
    • Rudyard Kipling achieved fame quickly, based initially on his first stories and poems written in India
    • and his great popularity with the British public continued

  15. • Rudyard Kipling, a English poet lived from 1865-1936. He also wrote many children’s stories. The poem’s line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same” is written on the wall of the players entrance at Wimbledon.
    • “If” by Rudyard Kipling: Analysis and Comparative Note: The strong emphasis on balance in “If” possibly reflects an oriental influence on Kipling’s own life philosophy.
    • Kipling’s thoughts on action without desire, equanimity, humility, and uprightness also echo Lord Krishna’s description of a man of steady wisdom in The Bhagavad Gita.
    • The death of John inspired Rudyard Kipling to become involved with the poem.

  16. Profile photo of joe locker joe locker says:

    .Written in 1895
    .The poem is written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son
    .Kipling’s most beloved poem
    .It was inspired by a great friend of his, Leander Starr Jameson
    .Notable that Kipling says nothing of heroic deeds or great wealth or fame
    .he was transferred to a school in Devon
    .His daughter Josephine died of pneumonia at the age of seven
    .This poem, published three years after he won the Nobel Prize
    .Only to watch him die in the battle for Loos

  17. “If” is a poem by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, written in 1895 and first published in, 1910. It is a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson. The poem is written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son, John. The poem was adapted and performed as a song by Joni Mitchell on her 2007 album Shine. It was also performed by Roger Whittaker under the title “A Song for Erik”. He wrote it as propaganda for the First World War. Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.

  18. If Rudyard Kipling Poem Research:

    • The poem was adapted and performed as a song by Joni Mitchell on her 2007 album ‘shine’
    • The famous actor Michael Caine read out the poem making it more popular.
    • The poem is written for the poet’s son, John. John was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
    • The poem is used in full by actor Ricky Tomlinson in the title role of the 2001 film, Mike Bassett: England Manager.
    • The poem inspired many to write poems and find out more about the man himself.
    • At the start of every paragraph it starts with the word ‘if’ which relates to the title:
    • ‘If you can keep your head when all about you’
    • ‘If you can dream – and not make dreams your master’
    • ‘If you can make one heap of all your winnings’
    • ‘If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue’

    • Rudyard Kipling was an English author, famous for his works: Just So Stories, The Jungle Book and “Gunga Din.” He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

    • Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936) inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living. Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. ‘If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy. Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – a poignant reflection of the poem’s timeless and inspiring quality.

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