Rudyard Kipling – If

Kipling deltaplane

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!


7 Responses to Rudyard Kipling – If

  1. Eliason, Marguerite says:

    Does anyone know the name of the short story where a man and his horse fall down a steep enbankment, where there is no escape. Surrounded by an ocean on three sides and a steep embankment on the 4th side the rider find people living in dugouts and a boat that scrafes the shore? Does this sound like a Rudyard Kipling story? Marguerite

  2. Siraj, Hartini says:

    I came across this poem by Rudyard Kipling……”If”. I know it’s something about manhood and leadership….maybe something inspirational for anyone who wants to be a great leader.
    Wonder if anyone out there could summarise the poem…perhaps stanza by stanza, so that I could see if the poem really reflects the man… the name of Rudyard Kipling. Thanks!

  3. Sirisha says:

    I stumbled on this poem that I am already acquainted with. But, as I read through it today it makes a lot more sense than when I read it as a kid. Hats Off to Mr. Kipling, a novel poet indeed!!!

  4. Brettbe says:

    @Siraj; It’s saying a man should be calm, clear-headed, introspective and open-minded, patient, forgiving, humble, hopeful, intelligent with a purpose for his intelligence, firm-footed and strong, hard-working, pragmatic, not-a-whiner, determined, able to resist corruption, down-to-earth, and perhaps … emotionless. It’s a good poem, but I think it leaves out love.

  5. I think that’s the purpose of the piece. To leave out love from a man’s perspective.

    Visit my Poetry Blogspot

  6. MM says:

    Interesting, I never really considered the way it leaves out love. I certainly think in every other way these are words a person could live by. I can’t think of a better list of characteristics I’d like to see in someone than are described in this poem.

  7. brianroffey says:

    A new anthology of Kipling’s verse argues that the poet, far from being the stuffy Victorian imperialist he is sometimes depicted, was a man of fine sensibilities who dealt with the timeless themes of pain and suffering, forgiveness and redemption, love and hate. Concerned with ‘the mere uncounted folk/Of whose life and death is none/Report or lamentation’, he dragged the dirt and squalor of the battlefield into England’s elegant parlours, spoke in the voice of ordinary men and women and berated officialdom for ignoring the poor and hungry peasantry of India.
    Familiarity, the author argues, has dulled the effect of the poet’s most well known pieces, like ‘If-‘ and ‘Mandalay’, while other, equally fine, poems have been neglected. The Surprising Mr Kipling offers, not another selection of the poet’s ‘best’ poems, but one which demonstrates the extraordinary width and depth of his talents and the light which they throw on their great but enigmatic author. The author admits that it is a risky strategy, but it is one that, if judged correctly, could introduce many new readers to the full splendour of Kipling’s verse.

    THE SURPRISING MR KIPLING by Brian Harris, OBE is Available from Amazon leading bookshops.
    Inquiries: Tel: 01234 712932

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