What is so special about the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The poem "If" by Kipling is considered to be a very moving and motivational poem by many.  Part of the reason that the poem is considered to be so special is because it seeks to answer a fundamental question that strikes at the heart of what literature is designed to answer:  "Who am I?" and "What shall we do?"  The poem answers how individuals should pursue their lives and form their identity.  From the opening lines throughout, the poem addresses how human beings should behave in terms of what are the elements that define success. As you read it, you can find these instances where people could use this poem as motivation and guidance.  As you read it, consider the different ways that a parent could use this to talk to their child about the difficulties in adolescent life.   This poem has been used by different people from different walks of life.  Coaches use it to motivate their athletes, business leaders who are seeing to motivate their staff use it, and even principals trying to motivate students (and teachers, sometimes) use this poem as a way to ensure that individuals act within their own senses of self and seek a greater understanding of how to live.  Whether or not we agree that this is what the poem does, many believe it to be special because of this.

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