By, Donna M. Monnig
If ever there was a poem to live by, arguably it would be Rudyard Kipling’s complex work, simply entitled, “If . . .”. It’s a practical recipe for how to live a good life and be a good person; trust in yourself when others doubt you, without getting angry at those who do doubt you; don’t lie or hate even when you’re lied about and hated; don’t gloat over your appearance or knowledge; think and dream but don’t be a slave to your passions; remain steadfast whether in the midst of Triumph or Disaster, not becoming too proud nor too bitter regardless of which one you face; accept that people will twist your words for their benefit; if you take a risk be ready to accept the consequences without complaint; be social without sacrificing your morals and virtues; be able to associate with people of power just as well as with people of poverty, recognizing that all people have worth, but not giving too much to any single one, and hold on even when you think you have nothing left.
Kipling’s poem is both thought provoking and beautiful. It is also very popular, in 1995 it was voted as the most beloved poem in Great Britain, one hundred years after it was written.
Anyone who’s a fan of the old TV series MASH might also remember Captain Benjamin Franklin Hawkeye Pierce and Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, quoting from Kipling’s poem in the season four episode, Welcome to Korea.
If Hawkeye and B.J. actually took Kipling’s words to heart, may be another story altogether! Regardless, “If . . .” is a wonderful poem with a strong meaning.
“If . . .” is one of the most beloved poems in Great Britain, is it one of yours? If it is share it with your friends.