In the poem "If," the author writes a didactic poem. He uses illustrations to give lessons to live by. The speaker is teaching his son lessons in life. If the son will follow the speakers instructions, he will inherit the earth and become a man.
The first stanza teaches the son significant virtues that will help the son become a man. He admonishes the son to keep self control when others are losing theirs and "blaming it on you." Keep self confidence and "trust yourself when all men doubt you."
The speaker instructs the son to live a balanced life. The speaker teaches the son the importance of patience. The speaker teaches the importance of having honesty. The speaker teaches the the son not to hate:
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;
Stanza two continues in the teaching mode. Didactic messages fill each line. Dream but do "not make dreams your master."
Stanza three speaks to the son and advises that he should be able to lose it all and begin again and never utter a word about your losses:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
Stanza four sums up final instructions. It is important to be humble and walk worthy to be with kings yet not "lose the common touch." Don't allow friends nor foes to hurt you. Love unconditionally. Follow these instructions and you will inherit the earth and become a man:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
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!