What kind of poem is "If?"  

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There are many ways to categorize poetry. A unique characteristic of "If—" by Rudyard Kipling is that it consists grammatically of a single sentence, so we can call it a one-sentence poem. The sentence has seven clauses that begin with "if." They are all joined by semicolons, but none of the clauses is a complete sentence on its own; each one is a dependent clause. The final two lines:

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
contain the two main clauses that complete the sentence.
Another way to think of the poem is by its rhyme scheme and rhythm. Because the poem abides by a prescribed rhythm, meter, and rhyme scheme, we can classify it as traditional rhymed verse. The poem is divided into four eight-line stanzas. Each stanza consists of two quatrains (sets of four lines) defined by the rhyming of alternate lines. The rhyme scheme for each stanza is ababcdcd. Each line uses iambic pentameter rhythm—every other syllable, of ten total, is accented or stressed, beginning with the second. Some lines have an extra, eleventh syllable, a technique called hypercatalexis. Sometimes hypercatalexis adds humor or surprise to the poem, but because of this poem's serious subject matter, the hypercatalexis creates a chatty, mentoring tone that keeps the poem from becoming too sing-songy.
As stated in the other answer, the poem can be considered a didactic (i.e., instructional) poem. Additionally, we might call it an inspirational poem. It inspires the reader to take hope and courage and...

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