Can anyone summarize the poem "If" by by Rudyard Kipling?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

brandih eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Please see the link below for another answer.

impeccable | Student





1. You will be considered as a noble being by this world if you muster the art of keeping cool without yeilding to any kind of provocative act and losing your temper.  People may tell many lies to blemish your image but you should not be upset about that.  You should not tell lies and hate others around you.  You must learn to love your enemies.

2. You may dream about a great deal of good and bright things but you should not make your dreams to rule over you and prevail as masters.  You must always think about your life very practically.

3. You should not allow the success to go to your head or your failure to depress you.  They should not influence your practical life.  Some people would try to project the truth you spoke in a distorted way and try to hold you in bad light.  It should not depress you.  It should not demoralise you if some critics try to destroy your good work.  You should work hard and build your image once again.

4. some times your good work may go unrewarded.  This should not depress you and make you lose your heart.  Even after growing old, with your strength and vigor lost, you should not buckle but should work hard supported by your will power to achieve your goals.

5. You should not avoid the company of the common people and keep away from them but their cheap way of thinking should not influence you. You may rub your shoulders with the people of the high society but this should not cut you off from the company of the common masses.

6. You should not waste your time and consider the time as the most precious.