If – by Rudyard Kipling

This is one of the most profound poems I’ve read in a long time. I nearly passed it by, thinking it’s language, even it’s message, would be outdated. I was wrong. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

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 wornout 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!

This poem is in the public domain.

Kipling on Books

Kipling once wrote, “If we pay no attention to words whatever, we may become like the isolated gentleman who invents a new perpetual-motion machine on old lines in ignorance of all previous plans, and then is surprised that it doesn’t work. If we confine our attention entirely to the slang of the day-that is to say, if we devote ourselves exclusively to modern literature-we get to think the world is progressing when it is only repeating itself. It is only when one reads what men wrote long ago that one realizes how absolutely modern the best of the old things are.”

Some older books I have thoroughly enjoyed:

The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
1984, by George Orwell
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck
The Stranger, by Albert Camus
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
The World According to Garp, by John Irving
Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh
The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck
The Magus, by John Fowles