Poetry Corner – If

If –

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!


In a blog post I wrote this week, I speak of the power of Internal Faith, which I then abbreviate as IF. When thinking about a good poem for this week it spurred my mind to think of Rudyard Kipling’s “If –“ , a memorable poem you’re probably familiar with, at least in part.

The poem acknowledges that even though you can’t always stop bad things from happening, you can deal with them in a good way. Kipling advises one be gracious in victory and success; don’t brag and be rude about it. He counsels to be dignified and noble in defeat, or in times of trouble. Or, to paraphrase in very modern vernacular, stay calm and don’t freak out.

An example, to relate it to March 2020 – don’t hoard toilet paper and bottled water. Call people and check on how they’re doing. If you have a neighbor that you know might need help, but you don’t have the phone number, ring the doorbell and then stay 6 feet back when they answer, and ask if they need help at all so that you can see what can be done. If you are calm and gracious and care about your fellow human beings, you are a winner at life.


About Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, full name Joseph Rudyard Kipling, (born December 30, 1865, Bombay [now Mumbai], India—died January 18, 1936, London, England), English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

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