Is the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling good advice about how people should behave?
It is perhaps not completely realistic to expect four stanzas of poetry to serve as a complete guide to behavior for all people everywhere in the world. This poem was written in 1895, in part in response to the actions of Leander Starr Jameson, a doctor who played an important role in the British colonial leadership in South Africa. He was a charismatic figure who was extremely popular, but his leadership of the Jameson Raid was not entirely legal, and he was in fact put on trial for it and found guilty. Thus the sort of stoic individualism and hypermasculinity the poem recommends is somewhat problematic.
For example, the poem says:
If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, ...
The poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling itemizes the ups and downs associated with life and describes how to find mental and emotional balance while going through them. There are pieces of advice associated with all aspects and ages of life, from the very young to the very old. Kipling addresses success, failure, crisis, manners, ethics, the golden rule, and taking risks in life; then he advises how to handle them all with a humble attitude and without complaining. Then, at the very end, after making a list of many of the attitudes and events that might face a person in life, he makes the following promise:
"Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!" (Lines 31-32).