If By Rudyard Kipling Summary and Analysis

If- is a renowned poem written by Rudyard Kipling. It was published in his book Rewards and Fairies (1910). In this poem, a man gives many pieces of advice to his son.

  •  The speaker of Rudyard Kipling’s poem If- tells his son to live with: (a) Restraint, (b) Moderation, as well as (c) Composure. 
  • The son is advised to always keep his wits about him, and, never overreact, he is also expected to/should learn to be: (a) confident without being vain (b) accept or face difficulties without dwelling on them, as well as (c) behave with dignity 
  • According to the speaker, living in the aforementioned way (he suggests so) will make his son a true man
  • So, it easily can be said that Rudyard Kipling’s If- is a poem of advice not only from a father to (a) his son but from so many fathers to their so many sons: it is about an idealized kind of self-sufficient quality or virtue
Poem NameIf
PoetRudyard Kipling
Main ThemeMasculinity
Rhym schemeABABCDCD

Rudyard Kipling Poem If- Summary and Analysis

The speaker of If-, throughout this well-known poem, provides its readers multiple scenarios, positive as well as negative, along with a glimpse into how a person should conduct himself. The poetic piece comes with (an) almost mathematical evidence about it with its if-then scenario.

As far as the “then” is concerned; the poet leaves it until the last two lines of the poem. It reveals to the readers that if they are capable of doing all the aforementioned (things), they not just have the world at their fingertips, they will be a “man” as well.

In short, If- by nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling is considered as an inspirational poem.  Actually, the poem is a presentation of the view or advice on how a person should live his life

It brings its readers through so many different ways in which they will be/are able to rise above adversity or difficulty that will almost surely be thrown a person’s way at some point (of time).

If— 
Rudyard Kipling

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!

If- Themes

Masculinity is the central or the major theme of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. Whereas success/defeat is also an important theme. From the speaker’s perspective, there are quite specific things the young listener needs to do in order to become a man. He (means the speaker of the poem) celebrates traditionally masculine attributes, such as: 

Strength, while in a contemporary setting as well

  • Raising questions in regard or relation to what role women are going to play in society
  • So far the inspirational part of If- is concerned; it enters from the motivational message of the speaker for his young son or the young man. The speaker helps him try to understand 
  • What it takes to be successful in life, as well as
  • How to handle defeat when it comes or occurs, which according to the speaker, it surely will

Rudyard Kipling If- Form and Structure

Rudyard Kipling’s poem If- is made of four stanzas of equal length, containing eight lines each with a rhyming scheme of ABABCDCD. But, the first stanza of the poem does not follow this pattern – here, the poet uses AAAABCBC as the rhyme scheme. 

Kipling wrote the poem If- in iambic pentameter. As far as the iambic pentameter is concerned; it has five feet including (the first) an unstressed syllable and (the second) a stressed one.

The speaker, throughout this poetic piece, maintains a positive as well as upbeat tone. He tells the readers what they have to do for being a successful person in life.


Rudyard Kipling has made If- quite a personal poem by his use of the pronoun “you”. Actually, it can be said that it, the poet is talking to himself or providing himself a pep talk.

Ques: What is the most important message of Kipling’s poem If- ?

Ans: The poem If- by Rudyard Kipling is known for conveying a thoughtful message about how to live:
Principled 
Successful, as well as 
Happy
life; irrespective of those challenges or hardships a person certainly has to face.

Ques: When was the poem If- written ?

Ans: Kipling wrote his poem If- in 1895.

Ques: What literary devices does Rudyard Kipling use in the poem If- ?

Ans: The poet uses many literary devices in the poem If- such as:
Anaphora
Caesura
Enjambment
Repition

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