Rudyard Kippling

History of the Poem

The poem "If by Rudyard Kipling has been thoroughly loved throughout history. If was named the most loved poem in Britain in 1995 and has become a major part of British culture. The lines "If you can meet With Triumph and Disaster/ and treat those two impostors just as the same" from the poem were engraved above every entryway to the Center Court in the All England Lawn and Croquet Club and is even some times recited on the court. People also noticed that the poem was only written for a son. A woman named Anne Dalke decided to write an alternative to the poem addressed to both sons and daughters and called it "An Alternative If".


The poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling is encouraging people to overcome the hard parts of life and truly be growing into the best person they can be no matter the circumstances. If they can be strong through the struggles, and when things get better, not get a big head, they will be living life to the fullest.


The speaker doesn't so much tell a story, but explains how far you can get in life if you do the things the the speaker says will get you there. thee feeling the readers get from the poem is moved and inspired to be strong and live in the moment, in order to get the best out of life. the speaker is talking directly to its audience and can most likely be trusted because it seems as if they've been through the struggles described in the poem and now wants to show the rest of society what he learned over the years. The speakers tone of motivating and encouraging is seen at the very end of the poem when the speaker says, "Yours is the Earth and everything in it".


The poem is free form written in four stanzas each having a separate rhyme scheme and a different theme. The poet chose this form most likely to separate him thoughts and show how there are many different aspects of life that have to be conquered before becoming the best you possible. The poems movement starts at being as strong as possible, for example, "If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you", then moves to overcoming struggles when the speaker says, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/ And treat those two impostors just as the same". The poem then starts moving towards being humble like when the speaker says, "and lose, and start again at your beginnings/ And never breathe a word about your loss" to then stating what will happen if a person does all these things described throughout the poem, which is gain the "Earth and everything that's in it/ And - which is more- you'll be a Man, my son". The poem is 32 lines separated into 8 line stanzas. The poet uses many simple and complicated thoughts separated by semicolons. The poet ends his piece with an exclamation most likely because of his enthusiasm and confidence he has for his advice. The title "If" is just repeating the fact that "if" a person can do the things described in the poem then the effects will be good. The poem is also very repetitive of the word "if" making it a good name for the poem.


The speaker of the poem does use a little colloquial language such as in the line: "And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools", but the language, for the most part, is simple. Words that stand out are "trust, dream, Triumph, winnings, virtue, and friends" which all connect back to the theme of overcoming struggles with a hopeful attitude. On the other hand, there are words like "blaming, doubt, Disaster, broken, risk, lose, and unforgiving" which have the opposite connotation. The speaker used so much figurative language to put emphasis on certain aspects of the poem and to add to the visual image they were trying to put into the audiences head. The speaker used a lot of personification throughout the poem. "If you can dream - and not make dreams your master", is personifying dreams and giving them the human-like quality of being able to be a persons "master" having the ability of controlling lives. "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster", is giving success and failure a name. Lastly, "Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on", Is giving will the ability to speak up. There are also many metaphors throughout the poem as well. "Or walk with Kings- nor lose the common touch" is metaphorically showing how you can be high up in life and wealthy, however you have be modest and humble and act as if you are no better than the common people or the ones who are not as well off. At the very end of the poem, the speaker metaphorically says as one of their concluding statements, "If you can fill the unforgiving minute/ With sixty seconds worth of distance run" meaning that life is short and people should use their time as wisely as possible.

Musical Devices

The rhyme scheme throughout the poem is very irregular. The First stanza starts out with a pattern of AAAABCBC. The rest of the poem sticks to a different pattern, but each stanza with different rhyming sounds. The second stanzas rhyme scheme is DEDEFGFG, the third's is HIHIAIAI, and the last stanza's rhyme pattern is AKAKLMLM. The poem is very repetitive of the word "if". This just further emphasizes the cause and effect aspect if the poem.

Works Cited

""If," A Poem by Rudyard Kipling." N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <http://www.drmardy.com/ifferisms/kipling.shtml>.

"A Feminist "If"" A Feminist "If" N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/reflections/if>.