Kipling is the man

I have to tell you a bit about my mom. She has always felt part of the purpose of life (maybe THE purpose) is to inspire others and to always have God guide you to your better self, make the world a better place, etc….one of her expressions was ‘don’t curse the darkness, light a candle’ –what a wonderful expression!).  I have mentioned before that she often recites poetry. One of her favorites of all time was also a favorite of her brilliant, articulate father. That poem is If  by Rudyard Kipling. I think it says a lot about what we are called to be in this day and age. Things can awfully mean-spirited —sometimes we each forget the difference between being passionate (which should still include manners and consideration) and being strident (which is harsh and doesn’t care whose feelings or hearts are crushed). Heaven knows I have definitely erred on the side of being strident. When I am thinking clearly, I try to remember Kipling’s poem. Since I love it so much, I am posting it here!! My friend Terry recently reminded me that Rudyard Kipling wrote that poem for his son, before his son joined the British Army for WWI. His son did not return from the war.


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;
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 ust 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 talk 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!


And no, I do not think of this poem as sexist because of the last line. I can easily change it to you’ll be a woman my daughter! Now, I think that poem should be instilled in everyone. Yes, I feel strongly about that poem because it was part of the fiber of my life. But doesn’t Kipling weave a fabulous tapestry with his words?? This perennial optimist is inspired by this poem—and it gives me courage AND goosebumps. In my opinion that is one of the hallmarks of good literature :-). Furthermore, I have been made aware of a wonderful organization that studies and promotes Kipling’s writing and ideas. Here is the link so you can see for yourself!

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
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5 Responses to Kipling is the man

  1. How much like God it inspires us to be!

  2. Michael says:

    As you know December 30th is the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, the author of the inspirational poem “If”. Even a century-and-a-half after his birth, his poem continues to inspire millions of people, people who come from incredibly varied backgrounds all over the world, including you and me. Apparently, we both feel that the more the message of this poem is shared, the better this world would be. After all, I found your blog because it has Kipling’s “If”.

    In that same spirit, the group of enthusiasts (including yours truly) have actually started a blog called “All Things If”, which is devoted to the ideals of the poem. The blog is a literary journal, with short fiction, editorials, sections for “Poems like ‘If’” and “Books like ‘If’”, and, in the next two months, you’ll find interviews with notable people under the heading “Kipling’s Hall of Fame”. Any help that you can offer to improve our blog would be greatly appreciated – articles, stories, suggestions, ideas, comments, editing, etc. I hope you will not find my request too outlandish, but it would also be great if you posted a link to “All Things If” under the text of “If” on your site. This way after reading “If” on your page, your visitors could find readings and even music that expand the poem’s message at “All Things If”.

  3. Pingback: Have You Ever Had A Kipling “If” Moment? | Believe Anyway

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