What should a perfect man do if he loses everything that he has gained as outlined in "If—"?

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Losing everything is a theme throughout the poem. Kipling talks of meeting with Disaster and of watching "the things you gave your life to, broken." The most explicit reference, however, comes in the third stanza, with the lines:
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

This is an example of one of the poem's major themes: stoicism, or the fabled British stiff upper-lip. It is very similar to the Horatian injunction (also found in Cicero and Seneca) "Nil admirari." One should be ready to risk everything but remain cool and level-headed in both victory and defeat, never allowing anything to matter too much.

Although the advice in this poem is clearly a counsel of perfection, requiring almost superhuman courage and fortitude, it is important to remember that at no point does Kipling refer to a "perfect man" or even, as a poet from a higher social class almost certainly would have, a gentleman. Instead, he promises:

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
This is a very democratic-sounding compliment, but if you have to fulfill all Kipling's criteria to be a Man with a capital "M," then Men must be rather rare.

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