talk with crowds and keep your virtue

25 01 2008

Say what you like about Rudyard Kipling — he doesn’t have the reputation in today’s world that I think he should — but his poems have a certain power. This poem on yellow paper, was framed and sitting on the floor in our hall closet when I was a kid — it defines a kind of manhood that I still aspire to. Occasionally, I almost measure up.




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




4 responses

25 01 2008

If you can ignore international copyright laws by posting other peoples famous poems in your blog you are doing well.

25 01 2008
Cliff Burns

I note that one of the 20th Century’s literary giants, Jorge Luis Borges, was a huge fan of Kipling’s and after he lost his eyesight would often request visitors read aloud to him from Kipling’s poetry. Damned as a colonialist, slapped with a racist label, Kipling’s work stubbornly persists. A sign of literary immortality…and quality. Thanks for this…

26 01 2008
Robert Rounthwaite

IF was written in 1895. (see Wikipedia article on this poem ) The copyright has long expired. (see Wikipedia article on Copyright law: “Copyright is a legal concept enacted by most national governments, that gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited period of time.” )

You can download all or nearly all of Kipling’s work from project Gutenberg:

26 01 2008
Cliff Burns

The man’s right–there are no copyrights on Kipling’s work,it is well within public domain. Project Gutenberg isn’t perfect–they may have behaved like vultures in other instances but Kipling is one author where complaints don’t apply…

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