Poetry Interlude: If, by Rudyard Kipling

22 Mar

As regulars know, we like Kipling.

Anyway, Matthew’s latest post made me think of Kipling’s ‘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!


Posted by on March 22, 2012 in poetry


11 responses to “Poetry Interlude: If, by Rudyard Kipling

  1. Mike43

    March 22, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I’ve always enjoyed Kipling. When I was in the Army, during the 80’s, I had a soldier who complained about how he was treated by the civilians back home. I immediately thought of this line from Kipling:

    “It’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, and Tommy rot your soul,
    but it’s a thin red line of heroes when the drums begin to roll.”

    It’s also the tagline for the James Jones novel, Thin Red Line.

    He really understood the traditional soldier. After 30+ years, I’m not so sure I understand them anymore……..

  2. Will S.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Oh yeah; Kipling was great!

    He understood the soldier; he understood the costs of empire, and he understood female nature (I previously posted his The Female of the Species, here), among many, many other things.

    We’re big fans of him, here at Patriactionary. 🙂

  3. ElectricAngel

    March 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I always liked the wall street wisdom on this: If you can keep your head when others about you are
    Losing theirs….

    Maybe you just haven’t heard the news!

  4. Will S.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Ha! True enough. 🙂

  5. idrian

    March 23, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Liked this

  6. Will S.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:01 am

    It’s a great poem, IMO.

  7. Aristides

    March 25, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Kipling also exactly delineated the current crisis, in “Gods of the Copybook Headings”.

  8. Will S.

    March 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Indeed, Aristides.

  9. Bwana Simba

    March 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I actually keep a copy of this poem in my wallet, because it is just that good.

  10. Will S.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I had it on a poster on my bedroom wall; I might still have that poster somewhere…

  11. Svar

    March 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Welcome, Bwana Simba.

    I just checked out your site. Props. I am curious to how you were being “rambunctious” and why you deserved a “sensitivity talk”(lol) not because I’m a Ned Flanders-style prick wanting to know what you did “wrong”, but because I like a good story where the protagonist dishes out loads of assholery. I have several of those stories myself and I was an avid reader of Tucker Max and Roissy for that exact reason.


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