According to the poem "If," what qualities should an ideal human being (a perfect man) possess to lead a peaceful life?What are the good qualities of a perfect man described in this poem?

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tmcquade | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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As Rudyard Kipling portrays in his poem "If," there are many qualities that go into being a "man." 

In the first stanza of his poem, Kipling says that a man needs to be able to "keep (his) head when all about (him) are losing theirs and blaming it on (him)."  This means he must possess a calmness of spirit, a sense of self-control, and a relaxed composure.  Other lines in this first stanza say a man needs an ability to trust in his own abilities, a willingness to overlook faults in others, patience, slowness to anger, truthfulness, and a lack of arrogance and conceit.  He should not put on airs: "Don't look too good, nor talk too wise."

In the second stanza, Kipling says that a man needs the ability to dream and to think deeply, yet he should "not make dreams (his)master ... (nor) make thoughts (his) aim."  He should be able to both succeed and fail with honor; be able to bear with lies, gossip, and mistreatment from others; and able to accept when others twist his words or ruin his plans.  This goes back to many of the qualities introduced in the first stanza, especially patience and slowness to anger.

A man, according to Kipling, needs to be able to take chances and risks, all the while accepting his losses graciously:

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:

He must also be able to persevere through trials, to "hold on when there is nothing in (him)/Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

Finally, in the fourst stanza, Kipling says a man must be able to "talk with crowds and keep (his) virtue ... (and) walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch," meaning he must not be lead easily by the crowd into bad behaviors.  He must be able to stand by his convictions, holding on to his virtue and his humility in the process.  He must not let the opinions of others hold too much sway.  He must live his life fully, making the most of the opportunities and days he is given on this earth.  If he does all this, then he will "be a Man."

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