What's the mood of the first stanza in the poem "If--" by Rudyard Kipling?

Expert Answers info

Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write893 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

"If—" is a poem about the transition into adulthood and the personal qualities that, as Kipling understands it, make for a mature and functioning human being. At its core, this poem is didactic in its tone and intentions—this is a poem which strives to provide a lesson, and in it, Kipling gives advice as to the qualities that ought to be cultivated in adulthood.

There is a great amount of self-confidence and conviction on the part of the speaker concerning the advice being given. There is little room here for doubt or equivocation. Even if the speaker phrases his advice as a series of conditional statements, there is nothing conditional about the advice itself: for Kipling, these are the qualities required for achieving self-actualization in adulthood.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Michael Foster eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write579 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

The first stanza has a confident or grimly courageous mood. The speaker warns the young man (later addressed as “my son”) that there will come times in his life when he will be surrounded by chaos (“…when all about you / Are losing theirs [their heads] and blaming it on you”). He may be tempted to lose his head as well, but the path to “manhood” begins with keeping his head, even when he is accused of causing whatever troubles the crowd is encountering.

The emotion that the speaker means to inspire in his son (and in the reader) is confidence, so that they may face this world with success, though it will not be easy. Though much of the trouble that the speaker relates is caused by other human beings, it is in one’s own strength and courage that these conflicts can be overcome.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial