good thoughts         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 that says to...

good thoughts

         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 that says to them "HOLD ON"

                     - kipling

        is it really true?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's interesting to read and absorb the powerfully motivating thoughts of Kipling that are presented here.  I am still stuck with his notion of "East is East and West is West and never will they meet."  I think he had a very tough and difficult time to reconcile the colonialism partitions and divisions brought about with the British occupation in India.  Having said that, I think that Kipling was in the belief that his ideas about positive thought, being strong, and possessing resiliency can be applied to everyone, including those in India.  Perhaps, his thinking of positive and strong thoughts was the bridge between East and West.  It is interesting to compare him with Rushdie, who was brought up in post number 4.

elisapissa | Student

I just read Kiplings "The Gods Of The Copybook Maxims"(1920) in 150 years of Harper's magazine in which that line is repeated several times. When I went on-line to learn more about it it came up as "The Gods Of Copybook Headings" (1919) with that line throughout, otherwise they are identical. What's up with that?

khushalee | Student

     I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.  

                       - kipling

               again, i would like to ask , was rudyard kipling a fortunate fellow or not?

khushalee | Student


              U know, Rudyard Lake in rural Staffordshire, England where Kipling’s parents had met in courtship and they had been taken by its beauty. So for that, they named their firstborn as “Rudyard”.

          Rudyard Kipling was born on Bombay, British India. Today, he is famous for his novels, short- stories and poems. <Especially, “if” is the best among all.>

              My question is,



khushalee | Student


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!

khushalee | Student


                                      - HELEN KELLER

                        give your opinions about this quote and the lady "helen".


frizzyperm | Student

You ask, "is it 'true?" No, it is not true. But it is not wrong either. It is Kipling's advice. He is simply telling his son that life is difficult and sometimes you'll want to stop trying, but you shouldn't.

'If' is a list of British Empire 'values'. Stiff upper lip, play a straight bat, do the decent thing, old chap, for King and country, carry the white man's burden etc etc. In some ways they are very worthy sentiments, but they are not 'true'.

And don't forget that, in the end, these values guided Kipling to encourage his son to join the army at the start of the 1st World War. And Kipling's 'King and Country' sent his son away to be pointlessly slaughtered on the Western Front. Poor Kipling felt responsible for his son's meaningless death and let down by the Society that he had long been so supportive of. He had a nervous breakdown. When faced with his heart 'gone' he didn't have the will to say 'Hold On'.  

As Shakespeare said, "I never met a philosopher that could abide the toothache."

And as Salman Rushdie said, "Good advice is rarer than rubies".

khushalee | Student

         what is success? a person who reaches the heights of it or a common man who enjoys and till holds on is success or not?

no doubt, through struggle, someone has get something. but somehow, i feel, every common people is successful in his/her life.  isn't it true? so, holds on.