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Rudyard Kipling, If

October 10th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · No Comments

Come across something often enough, and become blasé about it. Approach it with cynicism, and it seems melodramatic or over-the-top. (Is there a better word than "cynicism" here?) Have enough apathy, and it’s simply "meh". If, however, always meant very much to me, and always will, because of the context in which I first came across it: my father brought home a big framed poster/photograph and gave it to me when I was somewhere between 10 and 12 years old. This was in the early 90’s.


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 all 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!

— Rudyard Kipling

I’m disabling comments on this post in order to “consolidate” comments: this post was originally posted on Hugo’s Blog.

Categories: Personal