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please summarize the poem 'if' by rudyard kipling

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kvssandhya | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM via web

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please summarize the poem 'if' by rudyard kipling

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senioreeto | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 13, 2012 at 9:48 PM (Answer #1)

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The poem seeks to identify the qualities that make a stronger human being.  While the poem speaks to all readers, it makes sense that in the closing lines, it seems like a father is speaking to a son.  If we were to take this to another application, the son has asked the father a question of what determines success or how does one shoulder the burden of responsibility.  The father answers in providing his son (and, by extension) the reader with several situations which demonstrate maturity, strength, and the ability to rise above challenges.  The situations in the poem speak for themselves:  "Keeping your head when others lose theirs,"  or "trusting yourself when all else doubt" or "meeting triumph and disaster and treating them just the same" or "fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run."  The poem uses the conditional term "if" to indicate that only when one fulfills the conditions listed can success be grasped.  The motivations featured in the poem have been used in business and other endeavors to inspire strength, intestinal fortitude, and grace under pressure; thematic elements present throughout the poem.

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sherlock85 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 13, 2012 at 9:58 PM (Answer #2)

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Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" is about the path to becoming a mature, responsible adult.  Kipling says that you will know that you have become a "man" (i.e. a responsible adult) if you can do several things:

1.  not lose your temper when others blame you for their problems (lines 1-2)

2.  believe in yourself even when others do not, but while believing understand why others may not believe in you (lines 3-4)

3.  wait patiently (line 5)

4.  do not lie, even when others lie about you (line 6)

5.  do not hate those you hate you (line 7)

6.  stay humble and do not act stuck-up (line 8)

7.  have goals and ambitions, but do not let them control you (lines 9-10)

8.  be even-keel - do not be overly swayed by the good and bad times in your life (lines 11-12)

9.  endure others misrepresenting you (lines 13-14)

10.  rebuild your life even when you at the end of your rope (lines 15-16)

11.  take responsibility for your actions - even if you lose all you have at gambling, pick yourself back up and do not complain (lines 17-20)

12.  keep going even when you are depressed, worn-out, or sick (lines 21-24)

13.  be the friend of all - not treating the poor differently than you treat the rich (lines 25-26)

14.  do not depend too much on others (lines 27-28)

15.  make something of your life in the short time that you have on earth (lines 29-30)

Kipling promises at the end of the poem that if you do these things, you will be a "man" (lines 31-32).

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