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Please give a short summary of the poem "If," written by Rudyard Kipling?

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somaray67 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:17 PM via web

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Please give a short summary of the poem "If," written by Rudyard Kipling?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted October 13, 2009 at 12:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Perhaps the most celebrated poem of Rudyard Kipling, If, composed at the turn of the 20th century (published in his collection, Rewards and Fairies, 1909) is a glorification of Victorian stoicism, a didactic poem that strongly highlights the virtues of 'grown-up' living: the way a son becomes a man.

The opening lines exude the imperative need of self-confidence, of courage to combat disapproval, the need to ignore doubt and make allowances for it. The poem is instructional in attitude, motivational in tone as the poet goes on advising the virtues of patience, honesty, fortitude and righteousness.

The conditional 'if', which is the title of the poem, refers to all the blocks in the way to full maturity, all the doubts & fears, all adversities that are to be solemnly and stoically overcome as a necessary pre-condition to true and perfect manhood.

The poem was said to have been written keeping the failed 'Jameson Raid' (the raid led by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson against the Boers in Southern Africa) in mind. It was about the mottos and maxims for right behaviour and self-development.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:26 PM (Answer #2)

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The poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling can best be seen as a celebration of late 1800s - early 1900s British masculinity and stoicism -- the idea of the "stiff upper lip."

Kipling was a passionate defender of the British Empire and the values that, to him, made it strong and morally right.  In the poem, he celebrates those values.

The values he celebrates include keeping one's head in times of trouble, winning and losing with equal grace, and being able to deal with unfair criticism from one's inferiors.

This celebration of old-time British values has made this poem one of Britain's favorites.

You can see some other answers about the theme of this poem by following the longer of the two links I've provided.

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sarvagya | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:34 PM (Answer #3)

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I also want to know

 

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parama9000 | Student , Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted February 28, 2014 at 2:15 PM (Answer #4)

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The "if"s used in the poem show the small stumbling blocks on the way to full maturity from a boy to a man.

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