What are five poetic devices in the poem "If—" by Rudyard Kipling?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling uses many literary devices. Five of them are rhyme, rhythm, anaphora, paradox, personification, and hyperbole.

The poem uses a regular ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme in each stanza. The rhythm is iambic pentameter, meaning one unstressed and one stressed syllable used...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In his poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling uses many literary devices. Five of them are rhyme, rhythm, anaphora, paradox, personification, and hyperbole.

The poem uses a regular ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme in each stanza. The rhythm is iambic pentameter, meaning one unstressed and one stressed syllable used five times per line.

Most notable is the central device of anaphora, which gives the poem its distinctive structure. Anaphora is a type of repetition in which the same phrase is used repeatedly; Kipling does this with the phrase “If you can.”

Personification is giving abstract concepts or inanimate objects human characteristics. Kipling personifies “Triumph and Disaster” and calls them “impostors,” as well as “Will.” Another example is “unforgiving minute.”

Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration for effect. The penultimate line, “Yours is the Earth,” is hyperbole, given that the boy will not literally have the Earth.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team