Why did Rudyard Kipling title his poem "If"?

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mthiringer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem “If,” by Rudyard Kipling, derives its name first and foremost from the repetitive use of the word to begin most of the lines of the poem. The poem takes the form of a conditional statement: if A, then B. The poem is a commentary on the behaviors and attitudes that Kipling believes lead to flourishing and, as he says in the last line, becoming “a man.”

Of course the intent at the time was to emphasize the importance of having integrity and strength of character, and although Kipling associated these things with manhood in the poem, they are fully applicable to any person regardless of gender. 

Some of the characteristics Kipling addresses in the poem include honesty, patience, endurance, and an inner peace that he believes lead to a life well lived.  If you foster these character traits in yourself, then your happiness will not be dependent on your external circumstances.

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If

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