What are the poetry techniques in if, and what is the purpose of them?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Many techniques frequently used in traditional poetry are seen in the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

The poem is written with a very constant rhyme scheme - the first and third lines of each stanza rhyme, the second and fourth lines rhyme, the fifth and seventh rhyme, the sixth and eighth rhyme. The meter of the poem is basically iambic pentameter, with five sets of two syllables in each line, the second syllable more accented than the first. Lines are paired with one extra, unaccented syllable added at the end of the first line in each pair. The rhyme and meter of the poem make it very comfortable to read and easy to remember due to its predictable pattern.

The content of the poem is expressed as a whole series of paradoxes. "A paradox is a statement that is contradictory but that, in its contrariness, makes a point." Kipling presents situations and one common kind of reaction to those situations, then presents another reaction that he considers to be the better, more noble one. He is showing his "son" the more mature way to handle each situation by contrasting it with the easy but undesirable response.