If— by Rudyard Kipling

rudyard kipling

“If—” is a poem by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, written in 1895 and first published in Rewards and Fairies, 1910.Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children.Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children’s books are enduring classics of children’s literature; and one critic described his work as exhibiting “a versatile and luminous narrative gift”.In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.

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.


About the alchemist

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense. ~Rumi
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11 Responses to If— by Rudyard Kipling

  1. Patricia Ann says:

    This is another of my favourites and my 77 year old brain still remembers it word for word! Just yesterday, I was wondering when we’d hear from you again. Thank you.

  2. Mikels Skele says:

    “If … But,” Nowadays we happily gobble up the ifs in this lovely poem, but equally cheerfully ignore the buts. That’s us, halfway there, thinking we’ve arrived.

  3. This is my favorite poem. It says so much in such a little space. A guide for life. I had a calligraphist make a copy of it for me and then had it framed by a professional framer. It has hung on the wall of my home for thirty years. It serves as a reminder for me and as advice for my three sons. I never asked them if they ever read it. Yet I am sure that they have; and then given it the same amount of thought that it deserves.
    Thanks for a great post.

  4. My father’s favorite — I can still hear him recite it. The first two lines of the last verse are on his tombstone.

  5. onebumps says:

    Reblogged this on MISSING LINKS and commented:
    The last time I read this poem was studying literature in high school and is about the only piece I still remember excerpts from. Funny how it means so much more now than it did when I was 16. Still haven’t made the measure of what it takes to be a man, but I’m working on it.

  6. Aquileana says:

    Marvelous poem… I have always liked it, great choice and thanks for sharing!,
    Aquileana 😀

  7. as opposed to the mantra of today ‘but what if…’ – “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”

  8. years ago while struggling with a life-changing move, i awakened in the middle of the night with this part rolling thru my head, ‘if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting too’ — with clarity, i knew that i trusted myself and could make allowance for those who doubted my choices.

    such a classic…

  9. batgurrl says:

    Thank you for reminding us how to live the noble life. R

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