Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetry Summer Week 3: IF by Rudyard Kipling

I love The Bells. It is an awesome poem and fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun to say. My husband thinks it's much too long, but, really, once you have it memorized, it goes pretty fast. Lovely rhythm. Passed it off and I'm moving on (though I'll probably be back, just to make sure it's all still in there).

This week, I'm going with Rudyard Kipling's If. I know this is a poem about a father's advice to his son, but I've always thought that it was wonderful advice for anyone--especially writers. And, besides, I have three sons, and I want to have the excuse to recite it for them. :)

So here it is:

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;
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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!

If you're interested in who's playing, check out the Twitter hashtag #PoetrySummer. Though, really, it seems like I'm tweeting about it a lot more than everyone else.... :P If you're playing (and, really, everyone should), come tweet with us! :)


  1. Nice! Dang. I forgot I have to choose mine for this week. Ugh.

  2. I know! You just get one memorized and BAM! You have to memorize another!

    I'm going to start choosing slightly shorter poems.... :)

  3. My step dad, who is one of the greatest men I know, has this memorized and lives it; even to the point where he often recites it to others who need some good advice. Awesome poem!

  4. Ruth--your step-dad sounds very wise.

  5. This is so good. I've read it before, but you forget. Thanks for sharing! I'll be tweeting more! #poetrysummer

  6. I love poetry! Thanks for sharing with us. I just don't hear poetry that much anymore and this was a great reminder to read poems more often. Thanks! :)

  7. Krista--thanks! I feel so self-conscious when I follow the hashtag and it's all me! :)

    Brenda--I'm learning that I love poetry more than I thought I did. :)

  8. Why didn't I know that Rudyard wrote poetry?? All I really knew of him was his books. Learn something new everyday. I'm loving your poetry posts, BTW!

  9. If has always been one of my favorites.

    Another great one for writers:

    "Success is counted sweetest" by Emily Dickinson

  10. Thanks for the suggestion, Meredith! :)

  11. Hi Robin,

    What a great site! I came across it while searching for the poem "If" for a project I'm working on. It's a website called "All Things If" and it's an entire site devoted to the ideals of the poem. If you like the website, I was wondering if you would consider adding a link back to us at the bottom of your "If" post? Thanks so much for considering. You can reach me at the above email.

    All the best for 2012