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ROBERT STEPHEN PARRY


Historical Fiction

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IF- by Rudyard Kipling. The coming-of-age poem


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Transcript


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 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!

Background - a short biography of the poet and writer Rudyard Kipling


Complete text

Background and biography

Insights & Themes

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Insights, themes and ideas for interpretation


Poetry Readings logo with quill and heart shapesPoetry Readings logo with quill and heart shapestext link with brown background to historical fiction home pageportrait of Kipling in spectacles and with white, oriental round-collar shirtBanner image, mostly of text linking to information on the novel The Arrow Chestbanner showing sepia image of woman is large hat with swan feathersbanner showing sepia image of woman is large hat with swan feathers


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From Edwardian England, one of the world’s great inspirational poems

Technical info’

Type of Poem = didactic - that is, instructional and inspirational in tone - consisting of 4 stanzas of 8 rhyming lines each.

Rhyme Scheme = AB AB CD CD with the exception of the very first 4 lines, which all rhyme with one another.

Meter = mostly iambic pentameter (that is 5 pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables per line) but alternating with lines containing an extra syllable at the end. So, a lot of ‘rules' are broken here, albeit with an obvious and deliberate consistency.

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