In the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling, what does "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run..." suggest?

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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!

"If" by Rudyard Kipling is one of his most famous poems. The prose in the last stanza refers to several key points reflected throughout the poem.

The "unforgiving minute" is a reference to a universal aspect of life. A minute has only sixty seconds in it, no more, no less. It does not matter what a person does during those sixty seconds, the minute is unforgiving. If a person wastes the time, they cannot get it back or ask for a reprieve from the inevitable march of time.

"Sixty seconds' worth of distance run" is a reminder to fill the unforgiving minute with useful activity. Kipling is suggesting the reader take the advice, run and cover distance, meaning to move through life with a purpose.