Famous Inspirational Poem

Rudyard Kipling was an English poet who lived from 1865-1936. He also wrote many children's stories. The poem's line, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same," is written on the wall of the players' entrance at Wimbledon.

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I was never an avid reader nor appreciated poetry most of my life. My dad sent me this poem for my 28th birthday, printed along with a lovely card. Living many miles away from him I often...

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Famous Poem


Rudyard Kipling By more 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!

More About The Poem "If" and Rudyard Kipling

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 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 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, hardships, and sorrows, which one could never fault anyone for crumbling beneath, but time and time again he overcame. This poem, published three years after he won the Nobel Prize, encapsulates the lessons he learned and 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.


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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon by Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon
  • 1 year ago

My father, who was a teacher, introduced me to this marvelous poem when I was about 15. The poem had been carried in a book of poetry by Kipling, which I had won as a prize for some competition in the previous year. I remember how he explained to me that Kipling was born in India, traveled across the land, and experienced the real Indian life firsthand. He analyzed the poem for me in Malayalam, our mother tongue. He explained how the poem echoed the Indian philosophy as depicted in the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Holy Bhagavat Gita. This inspired me to read the entire book many times over. Though I could understand them only in part. This poem has been a source of inspiration for me throughout my life. I still know it by heart.

  • Rebecca J. Wilmoth by Rebecca J. Wilmoth
  • 3 years ago

I first read "IF" at age 17 while browsing in a Pier One Import store. It changed my view on LIFE. It helped me identify integrity (or lack of) in myself and others. It was THE single most profound thing I had ever read. I purchased the 11--14 framed poem that day and it has hung in every home over the last 41 years.

  • Susan Jacoby by Susan Jacoby
  • 3 years ago

In sixth grade in Bloomfield New Jersey, my teacher, Mr. Urban, read us this poem. At the end he said, "And what's more, you'll be a man my son. OR you'll be a woman, my daughter." I adored this teacher and loved that he amended the end of the poem to include all of us. It was obvious he believed in the poem as he read it, and it has stayed with me. Thanks, Mr. Urban.

  • Keycontrol by Keycontrol
  • 3 years ago

As part of 10th grade American literature class I was expected to write the poem "If" in its entirety from rote memory. Thank you, Mrs. Chafen, I now have that permanently etched in memory for all eternity. I'm nearly 70 and it is still an inspiration.

  • Elaina Carter by Elaina Carter
  • 3 years ago

When I graduated from junior high in 1957, I was given a card with an adaptation of this poem. It was called "IF for Girls". I have been looking for this variation of the poem but I have not been able to find it. Has anyone else seen "IF for Girls"? Thank you, Elaina

  • Nathan Drake by Nathan Drake
  • 3 years ago

I found two, this one:
And this one:
An “If” for Girls
(With apologies to Mr. Rudyard Kipling)
If you can dress to make yourself attractive,
Yet not make puffs and curls your chief delight;
If you can swim and row, be strong and active,
But of the gentler graces lose not sight;
If you can dance without a craze for dancing,
Play without giving play too strong a hold,
Enjoy the love of friends without romancing,
Care for the weak, the friendless and the old;

If you can master French and Greek and Latin,
And not acquire, as well, a priggish mien,
If you can feel the touch of silk and satin
Without despising calico and jean;
If you can ply a saw and use a hammer,
Can do a man’s work when the need occurs,
Can sing when asked, without excuse or stammer,
Can rise above unfriendly snubs and slurs;
If you can make good bread as well as fudges,
Can sew with skill and have an eye for dust,
If you can be a friend and hold no grudges,
A girl whom all will love because they must;

If sometime you should meet and love another
And make a home with faith and peace enshrined,
And you its soul—a loyal wife and mother—
You’ll work out pretty nearly to my mind
The plan that’s been developed through the ages,
And win the best that life can have in store,
You’ll be, my girl, the model for the sages—
A woman whom the world will bow before.

  • Kamren L by Kamren L
  • 4 years ago

When I was in missionary school, oh so long ago, I found this poem. I must have read it a thousand times and each recitation inspires me more than the previous reading. When I am down but not out, this poem lifts me up to fight and face another day. This poem also inspires me to be humble regardless of one's station in life and yet be wary of those who might want to exploit a situation. I am now in my mid 70s and everything said in the poem is appropriate in order to live one's life well. My son and daughter and my wife also cherish the wisdom in IF. God Bless RK.

  • Linda Sharpe Fickling by Linda Sharpe Fickling
  • 4 years ago

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,

....are my favorite lines especially on lazy days..
Memorized this poem about grade 6 in ...1961 and always a favorite.

  • John Spencer by John Spencer
  • 2 years ago

A favorite of mine since 1965 when my father would read it to us before bed, time after time through the years.

  • Loving Son by Loving Son
  • 4 years ago

I was never an avid reader nor appreciated poetry most of my life. My dad sent me this poem for my 28th birthday, printed along with a lovely card. Living many miles away from him I often wondered if it was my failure as a son or his as a dad that he had to wait 28 years to send this to me. Yet the timing could not have been more perfect. A year earlier I was young and foolish, the year after it would have been too late. Couple of years ago I lost my dad, quietly passed away without last goodbyes. Each time I miss his wisdom and guidance in my life's choices, I turn to this poem. A priceless gift from a loving father to his foolish son to help him navigate this crazy world.

  • Subbarayan Somasundaram by Subbarayan Somasundaram
  • 4 years ago

I am a retired lecturer in English, and Kipling's poem "IF" was so inspiring when I was a student of Literature. But it had a greater influence on me when I started teaching and explaining every syllable of the poem to my students in my college. Yes, it gradually inspired me day by day. When I left my job and started my own business, in the course my business I had to face a lot of challenges and problems and everything seemed to have a link with every line Kipling had written in his poem "IF." Now after a span of 20 years in business and after facing ups and downs and also a major collapse in business, I have become successful thanks to the inspiration and influence of the poem "IF." Thank you, Mr. RUDYARD KIPLING.

  • Subhas Yadav by Subhas Yadav
  • 4 years ago

When I was in 10th grade, my younger cousin sent me a letter, and she wrote this poem in it. I loved it, and it's still a precious gift for me.

  • Albert Wang Haiming by Albert Wang Haiming
  • 5 years ago

As a Chinese student learning English in Northern England over Christmas, I have only just gotten to know this fantastic poem as part of my class. I like it very much and feel inspired. This will help me pass my IELTS exam next year. I "will be a Man." Thank you!

  • Clive Halliday by Clive Halliday
  • 6 years ago

During WWII at my secondary school we had a rather frumpish teacher who taught French: Miss Hotchkis. After a test she would reward us by reading a Sherlock Holmes story. One day she decided, for our soul's sake I suppose, to read IF by Kipling. I had never heard it before - I was 12 years old. She then said that she was not supposed to talk politics but must mention again:
"Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;" and said that this exemplified the French after World War One.

Seventy-four years later I remember this vividly, though much of the French language has been forgotten.

  • Arlen Thielemann by Arlen Thielemann
  • 6 years ago

I was doing research in the library during my junior year ('75) in high school for an English paper when I first saw the poem "If" in a book of poems. It immediately struck me as a perfect explanation of how to go through life. It struck me so much that, being the juvenile delinquent I was at the time, I tore it out of the library book. I kept it folded up in my wallet for years, referring to it from time to time as I went through both triumphs and disasters. When it finally fell apart from the folding and unfolding over time, I had a framed copy that I eventually passed down to my son. Over the years, I've tried to impart the wisdom in that poem to all my children, two daughters and a son. I can't say I ever really knew if that took hold in them until recently. Yesterday my wife told me all three of them wanted to get a small tattoo of the word "IF"- a tribute to that poem and me. Although I'm not a fan of tattoos, I have to say that really choked me up. Thank you once again, Mr. Kipling.

  • Kirk Douglas Jensen by Kirk Douglas Jensen
  • 6 years ago

Ms. Robbins read "If" in '63 when I was in Jr. High. Then Ms. Christensen read it in high school in '68. I passed it on to my boys starting in '80. It became a measuring sick for all of us. I'm 68 years old now, and I lost it all. My dearest wife and all 3 boys are gone. I'm a religious man in total sorrow, searching for some understanding through prayer. Understanding this loss may never come, but the poem "If" will be my measuring stick...my ruler...because Rudyard Kipling gave me a poem to live by. Thank you God for giving us Rudyard Kipling.

  • RL Young by RL Young
  • 1 year ago

Hi Kirk, God knew the exact moment that your wife and sons would be born and the exact moment they would die. We tend to concentrate on the loss...the years that were cut short. Instead, we need to be thankful for the time we had with them. God knew that you would suffer this loss, yet he also knew how empty your life would have been had you not known each of those precious souls. The hurt and the pain will dim, and you will be left with the gratitude of your moments shared, no matter how brief. In the grand scope of eternity, our lives on this earth are but a spark. The perfection and splendor we will share with our loved ones will go on forever and ever. God Bless.

  • Quetta Dukes by Quetta Dukes
  • 6 years ago

This is a very inspirational poem that is like a guide through life. Kipling took you on his journey, which many of us go through, but he let you know you can win, you can survive whatever and everything you put your mind to. Adversity can be conquered. I heard of this poem from Leah's show on Scientology. Mimi Faust said her mother recited this poem to her on her death bed, and it genuinely touched my heart. This should be a poem the children need to learn in school because it's educational and full of purpose...

  • Laura Rightmyer by Laura Rightmyer
  • 4 years ago

In my youth, my father shared that "It" was one of his favorite poems as he read it to me. Another favorite was Gunga Din. Today is his birthday. He passed 15 years ago. Earlier today I wrote a social post thanking my father for the values, wisdom, advice he shared to help us kids and grandchildren to live with courage, independence, and honesty. I had written about many of his fine qualities and wondered aloud to the reader. I didn't really know where or how he was inclined with so much honesty, faith, and courage. This evening just hours later, I came upon "If," which I hadn't thought of in many years. As I'm reading "If," I realize these are the same qualities my father had. It was as if I was re-reading line by line what I wrote earlier today. I know now this poem had significant influence on my dad, and fortunately he thought important enough to live by. Thank you, Dad! Happy Birthday, miss you so much. Thank you, Mr. Kipling, for sharing your wisdom so my dad could live it and pass on to us. Pass it on.

  • Jeanine Browne by Jeanine Browne
  • 5 years ago

I love this poem and your posting. "If" has such an inspirational message about LIFE, that it is simply the truth. And I agree with you wholeheartedly; this should be a "must-read" and taught to young children!

  • Christina Mendivil by Christina Mendivil
  • 6 years ago

In 4th grade, my teacher, Mr. Hayes, used to discipline us by having this write "ifs" instead of sentences. Fond of ifs, I said, "Mr. Hayes, why do you have me write this? It doesn't even make any sense." He told me, "Don't worry, kid. You'll get it one day." As an adult, my painting instructor, Mr. Bill, called me into the office and asked me what my problem was, so of course I start reiterating my problem, and out of nowhere, Mr. Bill, with his eyes closed, turns on his computer and pushes the print button and hands the paper to me and says, “I challenge you.” Before I got to the end of the poem, I realized that it was Mr. Haye's "If" from 4th grade. Totally baffled, I took the paper and returned home took Mr. Bill's challenge. Mentally....I was inspired to deal with life on life's terms however they are thrown at me. As long as I live I’ll remember Mr. Rudyard Kipling's advice...

  • Brian Horrocks by Brian Horrocks
  • 6 years ago

I never saw much of my dad. I read Kipling's IF. It's inspirational, moving, a father-to-son love. Wish I had seen more of him. When I read this poem I think of him...

  • Sudath Perera by Sudath Perera
  • 6 years ago

As a middle school student, I saw this poem hanging on my school principal's room with a old black frame around it. Since then, it was my guide at all the triumphs and disasters. Now l am fifty, and still time to time I read it and tell others to follow it. I feel "If" is a combination of basics of all the religions. It is a universal truth for all the time. By writing this, Kipling lives forever.

  • Joseph T. Tuguinay Jr. by Joseph T. Tuguinay Jr., Philippines
  • 7 years ago

This poem has a charisma of deliberating the practicality of life and guides to take when faced with problems, whether about you or challenges around. I imagine Mr. Rudyard being alive, telling his son all these, and that resolves me to thinking of him as someone who overcomes great misfortunes in life. Well I think it's not misfortune in the sense of his poem, but these are part of us, naturally coming and massively changing us towards good fortune if we address such things the right way. If we accept obstacles in life, I think we are getting tougher and tougher, and it says at the end of the poem, yours is the earth and everything that's in it. What's about the earth is about you per se, your hope, aspiration, dream, vision, bravery, tenacity, and you name it.

  • Mark Collins by Mark Collins
  • 7 years ago

I totally agree "If" is a benchmark poem. A poem and guide to life that has and always will stand the test of time. Because there will always be parents telling their children this poem, showing them life is not always easy, but saying choose your path and never doubt yourself "When all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too."
The journey you take while reading this poem shows you the twists and turns of life, to trust yourself, understand yourself, till finally it releases its "epiphany of reason" in its last verse "Yours is the earth and everything that's in it, and what's more - you be a man my son!"
Wonderful, truly splendid ......

  • Rekha by Rekha
  • 7 years ago

"If" provides advice that is practical and much needed. It should be a part of the curriculum in school so children know it by heart and each line will guide them to be a "man."

The poet is also the author of Jungle Book, which is so lively. It's an example of keeping yourself alive and head on shoulders even when fate and life are not on your side. To stand up and defeat the all obstacles is the person who deserves a Nobel Prize if that is the highest award given on this planet. Would conclude with another inspiring quote: "If you think you can, you can. Life's battles don't go the stronger man but the person who wins is the one who thinks he can."

  • Miranda by Miranda
  • 7 years ago

When I was 20 years old, about to have a baby boy on my own, I came across the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. I was scared and apprehensive about how I was going to raise a baby boy into (hopefully) a good man someday, and finding this poem was kismet. I truly feel the guiding words of wisdom are so perfect and moving and also believe they can apply to any gender as well. My son is now 11 and has this poem framed above his bed to serve as a reminder of the things I want for him and the admirable characteristics a person with integrity has.

  • Lakesia Levant by Lakesia Levant
  • 7 years ago

A dentist read me this poem today. I must say I was very impressed with the writer. I found this poem to be knowledgeable and interesting. This poem seems to be for any gender as well as anyone facing trials and tribulations. Thumbs up!

  • Val Roberts by Val Roberts
  • 7 years ago

To live a life by these words of wisdom would be a life well lived.

  • Mariella Privitera by Mariella Privitera
  • 7 years ago

As a woman and a daughter, I would say this poem applies well to all genders. It's everyone's life with the ups and downs. It takes maturity and deep wisdom to appreciate this poem's meaning and true worth. I turn to share this poem at times of struggle and challenges dear ones of mine will be facing. It gives suffering a worthwhile ride and hope that we all come out the other end as much better people.

  • Mark Davis by Mark Davis
  • 8 years ago

A beautiful poem and a very fitting and eloquent comment to match it.
I came to this page looking for this poem, I'm pretty low at the moment, but only because of the loss of material things. I have my health and my family and as we Brits say, "you should be bloody grateful for that"!
Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Reivers by Reivers
  • 8 years ago

Strange feelings: on my high school graduation my godparents sent me a card with this poem - and $20. I liked the money. And I remember Dad trying to get me interested in Kipling's "Danny Deever". Never liked poetry. Now I'm 65 years old. I was a good soldier in Vietnam where I came to understand what it means to have brothers in arms. Listen to Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" if you don't get this. I came to have a good Son from a bad marriage. My son is a poet. Check out Ryler Dustin if you don't believe me. I'm still not that much on most poetry. It is a strange thing to read this poem now so many years later and see what it means. If you give yourself time to absorb this, you have my highest regards.

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