If— Questions and Answers
by Rudyard Kipling

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What does the line "If all men count with you, but none too much" mean in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this poem, the narrator is advising his son on how to face life if he wants to be a "Man."

This involves, first, expecting disillusionment. The young men needs to hang on to his level-headed sense of self in both good times and bad, accepting from the start that other people will blame him, doubt him, lie to him, and hate him. The narrator also advises him to hang on to his dreams even when he faces adversity and to hold onto his money lightly, willingly to risk it all and yet remain stoic if he loses it. Finally, the narrator advises his son in the last stanza not to be bedazzled by rank or lose the common touch. He says:

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 . . .
In other words, the father is saying to the son that "if" he stays true to himself and his own integrity, he will be a man, a mature individual. The line "if all men count with you, but none too much" means you should respect other people (they should "count with you") but not depend on any one person too much: you should trust yourself first.

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beateach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The line in question is in the fourth stanza of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling wrote the poem for his son as a means of teaching him how to be a righteous, virtuous man. The fourth stanza relays advice on how to deal with other people.

The line “If all men count with you, but none too much” is meant to help his son understand he should value all human beings but no one person or group of people should seem far more important than another. In other words, everyone, no matter what their station in life, has value. There are none who are not important in the grand scheme of life. Kipling is teaching his son not to think of those in higher stations to be more relevant or more in need of his attention. Basically, he is admonishing his son to seek an equal balance in his feelings for all mankind.

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