How does the poem "If" highlight the moral qualities required in a leader?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem "If," there are illustrations of moral qualities that you must possess to prove you have entered manhood. Patience and self control are moral qualities in "If." Possessing self control and patience are two essential moral qualities that will lead one into manhood:

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 possess these qualities, you can become a man. If you can remain level headed when others are not, then you can enter manhood. If you can wait patiently and not get too tired from waiting, then you can enter manhood. Clearly, the poem "If" is one of instruction. It shows good moral qualities that a leader needs:

“If” is a didactic poem, a work meant to give instruction. In this case, “If” serves as an instruction in several specific traits of a good leader.

Through specific illustrations, Kipling offers the instructions needed to have manly characteristics. By providing concrete illustrations, the reader understands what qualities exemplify leadership:

Kipling offers this instruction not through listing specific characteristics, but by providing concrete illustrations of the complex actions a man should or should not take which would reflect these characteristics.

Follow Kipling's instructions and "you'll be a Man my son!"

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" lists qualities recognized as important for those assuming leadership roles and provides illustrations or examples of situations in which those qualities are needed.

Leaders need to be worthy of trust; they also need to be able to understand why others might be doubtful and be able to convince those doubters that they are someone who can be trusted.

Leaders tell the truth and don't worry about it if they are the subject of lies. Leaders don't return hatred when they are hated by others. Leaders are able to determine what they feel is the right way and commit to it, working to achieve the goal when others have given up, keeping at it despite difficulties and disappointments, without complaint or bitterness, and without making oneself into a martyr.

shik6991 | Student

Rudyard Kipling created a solution to life's problems in his clever piece 'IF'. Written to his son with tender care, he offers a variety of commonsensical advice that is practical which stands the test of time. These wise words can be applied even now, almost a hundred years after they were penned, and by a greater audience than the one originally intended. The skillful manner in which the poem is written allows any reader to fall under the paternal spell created by Kipling.

His words feel as if one were embraced by understanding and concern. He lulls by simple repetition "If" and ties it up in 8 line stanzas; it makes for an easy-to-read, thought provoking piece. Because of Kipling's style, many who typically dislike poetry find they are intrigued and pleasantly surprised after they read it.

The insight offered by the poet can be summarized in brief as: remain humble, avoid extremes, and enjoy the joys of life at every opportunity. Rise above the fray and find goodness in even the darkest circumstance! He wants to inspire and enlighten, he wants for the reader to see the possibilities, and he asks the reader to ponder the best of the best within that soul. After a hundred reads, new meanings and philosophies could be borne from this sage list of attributes given.

He sets the bar high when he defines what it means to him to be a man', or what could be interpreted to an adult versus a child. It is about maturation and throwing aside the bad habits children often possess. The poet gives us a measure of how to see the difference between the selfishness of youth and the aspirations of adulthood.

This poem is a beautiful, personal goal for thoughtful readers and those who wish to be better people. An inspirational pat on the back, it acts as a light in a window on a dark night.

Kipling, better known for his fictional works rather than his poetic endeavors, has written one the best poems ever penned, showing to all who have read it that his heart was, indeed, that of a poet.

Well done, Sir! Well done!