What is one example of onomatopoeia in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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samcestmoi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I’m going to be honest with you here: I’m not sure there is an example of onomatopoeia in this poem. An onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like the thing it represents, like “achoo” for a sneeze or “buzz” for the sound a bee makes. The phonemes in the words themselves resemble the sounds they signify. Because we are dealing with sounds, any onomatopoeia in “If” would have to be representing a sound. The poem mentions talking, doubting, blaming, breathing, all kinds of sound-related things, and yet none of them really represent any sound they are describing. If your assignment is to find one example for a number of literary devices for this poem, you might have to leave the onomatopoeia section blank, like you do sometimes for the letter “x” when you’re going through the alphabet. 

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