If by Rudyard Kipling: Penned by the British Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling, it is a self-help book in itself. It was first published in 1910 in a collection of poems and short stories called Rewards and Fairies.
Collection of Rudyard Kipling’s Works
Originally written for Leander Starr Jameson, a soldier, it is written as if (If by Rudyard Kipling) a letter is addressed to his son, John. It appeared in T.S. Eliot’s collection of Rudyard Kipling’s works. As per Khushwant Singh, it is the real essence of the Gita, in English.
If by Rudyard Kipling, highlights the legacy a father passes on to his son in the form of moral values and advice. It is, in essence, such a poem, where a father writes a letter to his son to motivate him, aiming to make a man out of his son.
If by Rudyard Kipling
“If you can keep your head when all about you;
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,”
The poem begins with the above lines where the father advised his child to keep his calm while the ones surrounding him lose theirs and blame it on him. These lines stand for bravery. The poet realizes the importance of standing strong and representing one’s own principles, no matter how hard it may be.
He further asks his son to trust himself even if all else is doubting him. However, he warns his child against becoming too confident; he asks him to give way to the doubting too. The poet asks him not to indulge in lies, to dream but also to have the courage to fulfill it accordingly, to think but not to make those thoughts his ultimate aim.
“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”
These lines are the most famous lines of the poem and have found their way in the Centre Hall where Wimbledon Championship takes place. They are probably the two most influential lines, percolating through the centuries. This is where the biggest success of an individual lies and that is what Rudyard Kipling upholds.
The poem, in its entirety, reads as thus,
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 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 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!