What are the moral values for the poem "If—" by Rudyard Kipling? I would like to have an example for each moral value.

Some of the moral values Rudyard Kipling recommends in "If—" are calmness, stoicism, self-confidence, tolerance, patience, honesty, modesty, courage, tenacity, and industry.

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Rudyard Kipling's "If—" is a counsel of perfection which is filled with exhortations to virtue. Some of the moral values he recommends are as follows:

Calmness and Stoicism: These are emphasized from the first line. You should try to remain calm when everyone around you is panicking. Stoicism is continually referenced throughout the poem, as when the reader is advised to treat "Triumph and Disaster" in the same way. Finally, no one must be able to harm you significantly, "neither foes nor loving friends."

Self-confidence: You should be able to "trust yourself when all men doubt you."

Tolerance: You should also "make allowance for their doubting" rather than blaming them for it.

Patience: You ought to be able to "wait and not be tired by waiting." You should also be able to rebuild "with worn-out tools," the things that you have built and others have destroyed.

Honesty: You must not lie, even if others lie about you. You must also be able to "keep your virtue" even in the face of the corrupting crowd.

Modesty: Although you have shown superiority through all the virtues mentioned above, do not "look too good, nor talk too wise." You also need to be able to retain "the common touch," even in the company of kings.

Courage and Tenacity: You have to be able to "force your heart and nerve and sinew" to bear what appears to be past bearing and continue to "hold on" through the force of sheer willpower.

Industry: You should be able to get the most out of every "unforgiving minute."

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 6, 2020
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Rudyard Kipling's "If" provides reference to a large volume of moral values. In the very first line, Kipling appeals to his reader to "keep your head" when everyone else is losing theirs. This refers to the moral value of remaining rational even under trying circumstances.

One couplet I particularly like in the second stanza reads, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same." This refers to the moral value of optimism and of facing tough times with the same tenacity with which you face good times.

The third stanza provides another great example: "If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew; / To serve your turn long after they are gone." This line talks about the moral value of perseverance and continuing on toward your goal even when your heart and body are exhausted and want to give up.

The last line of the poem reveals the purpose of all these moral values—once the reader can say that he lives his life according to these moral values, then he will be a man.

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A didactic poem, Rudyard Kipling's "If" is meant to give instructions on what constitutes a leader and true manhood.

Stanza I 

  • integrity -"trust yourself when all men doubt you"
  • patience- "make allowance for their doubting"
  • honesty - "don't deal in lies"
  • modesty -"don't look too good, nor talk too wise"

Stanza II

  • creativity (with discipline) - "dream..."
  • reasonableness - "think, but not make thoughts your aim"
  • fortitude - "meet with triumph and disaster...."
  • work ethic - "and stoop and build 'em up..."

Stanza III

  •  unworldliness - "If you can make one heap of all your winnings/And risk it on one turn..."
  • courage - "And lose, and start again...."

Stanza IV

  • integrity - "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virture...."
  • humility - "Or walk with kings- nor lose the common touch...."
  • love - "If all men count with you"
  • virtue/meekness - "Yours is the Earth...."

By the use of paradox, Kipling accomplishes his instruction:  attachment with detachment, righteousness without self-righteousness, etc.  The lesson is to have balance in one's life.  Perhaps, Kipling's experiences in India influenced his writing of this poem as there is the prevalent teaching of Buddism here:  the quest for the Middle Way in the quest for spiritual enlightenment.

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There are many moral values that Kipling makes reference to in the poem “If”.   In the very first stanza of the poem, he states,

         “If you can keep your head when all about you /
          Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” (lines 1-2)

In these two lines, Kipling is discussing the value of staying calm and relaxed when faced with difficult situations.

Lines 3 and 4 begin a new value which is believing in yourself when others do not, but, at the same time, being aware that others doubt you.  In these lines he states,
         ” If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
           But make allowance for their doubting too” (lines 3-4)

Continuing on in the same stanza, Kipling says,
         “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.”  (lines 5-8)

Here, he looks at a few different values; line 5 talks about the virtue of patience; line 6 warns the reader not to lie or deal with anyone who does lie.  In line 7 Kipling would like his reader to think about the implications of hating or loathing another.  The final line of this stanza is quite possibly the most important when dealing with values these days and tells the reader that he/she should not try to show off but be more modest in his/her ways.   

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