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!
Were you to write the biography of Rudyard Kipling as a graph, the first thing that would strike you would be the steep vertical zigzags. The chart would have to start on a high point: his birth in India to a loving set of parents. His childhood would continue for a short period along an upward slope in the wonderland where he was born, and then plunge dramatically at the age of six when he was sent to England for his education. His first five years in England were scarred by the terrible abuse that he endured there from his foster mother. His only break during that period was the holiday month of December, when he would head to London to stay with his mother’s family. After that period he was transferred to a school in Devon where he shone, becoming the editor of the school paper and embarking on his path as a writer, becoming a major success. He was struck by misfortune once more when the bank where he kept his savings collapsed leaving him penniless. He moved to America and continued writing, publishing The Jungle Books together with much else. He again he hit a low when he became embroiled in a fight with his brother-in-law which landed both in court and in local papers, forcing his move back to England. On a trip to America in 1899 his daughter Josephine died of pneumonia at the age of seven, leaving him heartbroken. The wheel continued to turn however, and in 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his outstanding work. An avowed proponent of British involvement in World War One, he encouraged his son John to enlist. When he failed the physical, Kipling used his connections to get him in, only to watch him die in the battle for Loos leaving him awash in guilt.
His life was one replete with trials and hardships, sorrows which one could never fault anyone for crumbling beneath but which time and time again he overcame. This poem, published three years after he won the Nobel Prize, encapsulates the lessons that he learned and that he considered to be the keys to his success. Part of it is engraved on the entrance to Wimbledon to remind players of what it is that makes a man.