What is one personification used in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "If," a poem about the kind of moral courage and wisdom it takes to become a man, Kipling uses personification several times. Personification is attributing human qualities to something non-human, such as an animal, an inanimate object, or an abstract concept. In the poem's third stanza, Kipling uses personification to describe an abstract quality. He says:

"If you can dream and not make dreams your master ..."

A dream is abstract, an unrealized wish or desire, but here the poet speaks of it as a "master." A master is a human, someone who is in charge and tells others what to do. By understanding that a dream can become like a human being in controlling you and ordering you around, even causing you pain, as school masters were allowed to do in Kipling's day, Kipling makes it easier to understand the danger that a dream or desire can pose. You cannot become fully a "man"--today, we would probably say human being--that is to say, someone in charge of your own destiny, if you allow your dreams to control you. 

droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem by Rudyard Kipling utilizes a fairly common convention of personifying virtues and ills, but in this case, describing both "Triumph" and "Disaster" as "two impostors" whom a real man must learn to treat identically. That is, neither is real: so-called Triumph and Disaster are elements that appear in life in order to distract people from its true course, and in order to be a good man, one's head must not be turned by either. The personified "Will" can assist with this—"Will" says to "heart and nerve and sinew," "Hold on!" and can be relied upon when "there is nothing in you."

It is also interesting to note that "Man," like the personified "Will," "Triumph," and "Disaster," is capitalized in the final line. The matching orthography seems to equate the four persons as proper nouns representative of rounded concepts or beings.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are quite a few examples of personification (a metaphor in which a thing or idea is given human characteristics) in Rudyard Kipling's classic poem, "If." One comes in the second stanza: The words "Triumph" and "Disaster" are given the human characteristics of "impostors." Also in the second stanza, "truth" is "twisted by knaves" in order to entrap the spoken words. In the third stanza, the human element of the "Will" is given life, verbalizing the words "Hold on." In the final stanza, the time element--a "minute"--is given the human trait of being "unforgiving."

 

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