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by Rudyard Kipling

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What are some alliteration, assonance, and symbols in the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling?

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Alliteration is a device wherein a writer juxtaposes two or more words beginning with the same letter to draw emphasis or create a sense of cohesion. There are several examples of this in "If" by Rudyard Kipling, such as "treat those two imposters," "neither foes nor loving friends." We can also see consonance in "fill the unforgiving minute."

Assonance is similar to alliteration, except that it involves the repetition of a vowel sound, rather than the initial letter of a word. Assonance usually involves similar sounds in the middles of words. In this poem, we can see it in phrases like "fill the unforgiving minute" and "make thoughts your aim."

An example of symbolism in this poem might be "Triumph and Disaster," which are personified here to symbolize the "impostors" which a man might encounter during his life and be either dismayed or flattered by; here, they are represented as if they have human attributes, with each concept capitalized. We see the same technique in "the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'" Here, Kipling's language and phrasing forces the reader to imagine a person's will as a living thing, which increases our understanding of its power.

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  And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools


  And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise


"Walk with Kings": To walk with kings means to be the companion of the successful or rich, rather than an actual king.

"And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!" A man is a symbol for all the qualities that Kipling listed.  A man is a symbol of trust, patience, strength, and balance.  Throughout the poem, Kipling emphasizes balance.  For example, a man "can dream—and not make dreams [his] master."  Balance is a symbol itself, as it represents all the characteristics a man should have.