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A Short Analysis of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If—’

A summary of a much-loved poem

Since Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If—’ was first published in Kipling’s volume of short stories and poems, Rewards and Fairies, in 1910, it has become one of Kipling’s best-known poems, and was even voted the UK’s favourite poem of all time in a poll of 1995. Why is ‘If—’ so highly regarded? And what is the curious story behind the poem? Closer analysis of the poem reveals an intriguing back-story and some surprising stylistic effects.

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: Read the rest of this entry

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Five Fascinating Facts about Rudyard Kipling

Interesting Rudyard Kipling facts – about his life and work

1. Rudyard Kipling used the word ‘grinch’ over 60 years before Dr Seuss. The word ‘grinch’ was used by Rudyard Kipling in his 1892 poetry collection, Barrack-Room Ballads, in ‘The Lament of the Border Cattle Thief’: ‘It’s woe to bend the stubborn back / Above the grinching quern, / It’s woe to hear the leg bar clack / And jingle when I turn!’ Dr Seuss would take up the word for his classic 1957 children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (More Dr Seuss facts here.) Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about The Jungle Book

Fun trivia about Rudyard Kipling’s classic work of literature, The Jungle Book, that inspired the Disney film

1. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts, personally requested Kipling’s permission to use names and symbols from The Jungle Book in his new cub-scout movement. Baden-Powell had already taken Scouting ideas from Kipling: Kipling’s 1901 novel Kim had given Baden-Powell the idea for the Memory Game (called the ‘Jewel Game’ in Kipling’s novel) which Baden-Powell would use in boys’ cub-scout training. The idea for the game is simple: Kim, a teenager who is in India to be trained as a spy, is presented with a tray containing a number of jewels on it. The shopkeeper, Lurgan, tells him: ‘Look on them as long as thou wilt, stranger. Count and, if need be, handle. One look is enough for me. When thou hast counted and handled and art sure that thou canst remember them all, I cover them with this paper, and thou must tell over the tally to Lurgan Sahib. I will write mine.’ The illusionist Derren Brown has used a similar game in his live shows and television programmes. Read the rest of this entry