This is, without a doubt, Kipling's most beloved poem, and, along with "The White Man's Burden", his most famous. Although T.S. Eliot would deem it only "great verse" and others "jingoistic nonsense," it is consistently ranked among the highest, if not the highest itself, of Britons' favorite poems. It was first published in the "Brother Square-Toes" chapter of Rewards and Fairies, a 1910 collection of verse and short stories.
While the poem is addressed to Kipling's son John, it was inspired by a great friend of his, Leander Starr Jameson, the Scots-born colonial politician and adventurer responsible for what has been deemed the Jameson raid that led to the Second Boer War. The ...view middle of the document...
Twenty-seven of the Nations of the Earth translated them into their seven-and-twenty tongues, and printed them on every sort of fabric."
"If-" contains a multitude of characteristics deemed essential to the ideal man. They almost all express stoicism and reserve – the classic British "stiff upper lip." In particular, a man must be humble, patient, rational, truthful, dependable, and persevering. His behavior in response to deleterious events and cruel men is important; he must continue to have faith in himself when others doubt him, he must understand that his words might be twisted and used for evil, he must be able to deal with the highest and lowest echelons of society, and he must be able to withstand the lies and hatred emanating from others. This group of ideal characteristics is similar to those expressed in "The Thousandth Man", another poem dealing with manhood.
The virtues expressed in "If-" are devoid of showiness or glamour; it is notable that Kipling says nothing of heroic deeds or great wealth or fame. For him the true measure of a man is his humility and his stoicism. Kipling's biographer, Andrew Lycett, considers the poem one of the writer's finest and notes in 2009 that "If-" is absolutely valuable even in the complicated postmodern world: "In these straitened times, the old-fashioned virtues of fortitude, responsibilities and resolution, as articulated in 'If-', become ever more important." 1.why do you think he wrote this poem? If..
"If" was inspired by a great friend of Kiplings, Leander Starr Jameson, the Scots-born colonial politician and adventurer responsible for what has been deemed the Jameson raid that led to the Second Boer War. The raid was intended to start an uprising among the British expatriate workers in the South African Republic, but there were complications and it was a failure. Jameson was arrested and tried, but he was already being hailed a hero by London, which was filled with anti-Boer sentiment. He served only fifteen months in prison and later became Prime Minister of Cape Colony back in South Africa. It appears that Kipling had met Jameson and befriended him through Cecil Rhodes, the Prime...