In the poet "If," why did Rudyard Kipling repeat the word 'if' many times? 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entire poem is an "if/then" statement. The speaker is trying to instill ideals that a boy must attain to in order to become an honorable, successful man. "If" is continually repeated because the speaker wants to give a lot of examples of how a maturing person should behave. Each stanza covers a different set of characteristics that his listeners (young men in particular) should aspire to. In the first stanza, he suggests that a man will be successful in life "if" he is confident but not overconfident. A man will succeed "if" he can be patient and avoid giving in to hate. Lastly, a man must be righteous but not self-righteous or egotistical: 

And yet don't look too good nor talk to wise: 

The second stanza continues with this list of "if" statements that a man should aspire to. The other stanzas do the same. The fact that there are so many "if" statements suggests that there are a lot of virtues that combine to create a successful person. 

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