If by Rudyard Kipling

If by Rudyard Kipling

Poem …

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!
—————————————-.———————————

Introduction ….The poem appears to be the words of wisdom emanating from a philosopher of the East. Like a pious, wise Sadhu, Rudyard Kipling, the author, gives sermons extolling the virtues of stoicism, uprightness, and forgiveness. He appears to speak to his son, but the words are equally relevant for men and women living in this world riven by jealousy, intolerance, avarice, impertinence, and petty-mindedness. Kipling’s saintly advice, if heeded, should enable an ordinary man to walk with his head high braving the many evils that besmirch life on earth.

First stanza …

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:

Explanation ..
a. In the opening lines, the speaker advises his reader to confront a difficult situation with forbearance and calm. When something goes wrong, ordinary mortals generally try to escape responsibility by passing the buck to others. To deflect the blame, they make an innocent person the scapegoat for the mishap. When target unfairly like this, the reader should not burst with anger, but face such undeserved accusations with dignity and grace.

b. The speaker asks his reader, faced with an onerous task, to have confidence in his own abilities, and never waver, nor falter. There will always be people to doubt his capabilities, and demean his sincerity in accomplishing the assigned task. But, one must never allow one’s confidence to be dented by such selfish aspersions. In the same breath, to be intolerant of such criticism would be unwise and arrogant. One should take such criticism in one’s stride, and remain steadfast in the pursuit of one’s objective.

c. Often the effort to accomplish the task may stretch very long almost sapping the person’s energy to a point where he decides to give up. However hopeless the situation might be, he must carry on regardless.

d. Mischievous people may try to spread canards to demoralize a person, so that he gives up in disgust. But, such scheming must not deflect him off his chosen course. He should try to remain aloof and not allow the falsehood to succeed.

e. Wicked people may, for no apparent reason, heap insult on an innocent person, and make him an object of hate. But, such people need not be paid back in their own coins. Tolerance to evil designs is a virtue. However, the person (whom the speaker addresses) must not behave like a saint taking all the injustices lying down. He must remember that he is just an ordinary mortal.
—————————End of first stanza————————–
Second stanza

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:

Explanation ..

a. The speaker calls upon his reader to be ambitious and aim high in life. But, the dreams should spur him into action, and not lull him to inaction and complacency.

b. In the next advice, the speaker asks his reader to carefully ponder and reflect on everything before setting out to do anything. However, too much thinking may make him confused and rob him of his initiatives.
c. Here, the speaker implores the reader to remain impassive in the face of both defeat and victory. He should neither be swayed too much, nor should he be too indifferent to the situation so as not do anything as remedy.

d. The speaker wants his dear reader to remain unmoved when crooks distort his sensible utterances, and use the distorted versions to malign him.

e. Then the speaker calls upon his reader to show equanimity and grace when vandals destroy his life’s treasured creations. Instead of seeking retribution against the perpetrators, he should try to recreate the destroyed pieces from scrap using the remaining bits of his physical and mental energy. That would be the right way to undo what the misguided vandals did.

——————————-End of stanza two————————–

Third stanza …

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 after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

Explanation …

a. Here, the speaker urges his adored reader to lift his mind and sensibility to really lofty heights. He urges his reader to be restrained, magnanimous, detached, forgiving and ever-creative. If due to any strange twist of fate, one loses his lifetime’s accumulated master creations, wealth and fame, one should be resigned to one’s fate and give up. It should not destroy his undying spirit. Instead, he should muster courage, energy and will power to re-build the lost assets and wealth. The loss should not rattle him at all. There should be no trace of despondency, vengeance or despair in the appearance.

b. The spirit and the zeal to trudge on in life must never desert the reader. He should put his heart and soul to rebuild the lost treasure brick by brick summoning all the strength of his body. Till the last breath, his determination and creative instincts must burn bright defying the imminent specter of death.

—————————–End of stanza 3————————-

Fourth and last stanza 

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!

Explanation …

a. The speaker urges his reader not to be swayed by the ups and downs of life. While living like a commoner among the common folks, one must not stoop to imbibe their many sinful ways. One must keep one’s virtues intact. At the same time, while in the midst of the royalty and other such elite people, one should remain one’s humble roots. Arrogance and snobbery must not grip his mind.

b. The speaker asks his reader to be immune to taunts and diatribes. Such toxic words should not agitate his mind at all.

c. One should learn to treat everyone equally. One person not be given importance or shown affection at the expense of someone else.

d. The speaker asks his reader to remain unruffled while confronting a certain painful period. Instead, the hard time or unsavoury experience has to be treated as if a vital part of life’s journey that must be gone through to forge ahead in life.

e. Finally comes the parting advice. Warmly addressing the reader as ‘Son’, the speaker says that a person, who leads his life with the above guiding principles, will emerge the winner. He will have all the wealth, happiness, dignity and adulation that he can hope for. He will be a ‘real man’, worthy, deserving and adorable.
————————————————-End———————————-

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lalita
lalita
2 years ago

The explanation is really good n easy , thnku , ^-^

admin
admin
2 years ago
Reply to  lalita

Thank you Lalitha for your comment.

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