Student Question

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would agree with the poet's didactic message. The poem "If" is a poem that teaches through illustrations. The speaker is teaching his son what it takes to become a man and inherit the earth in all its fullness. If you can balance your life with self confidence but not too much self confidence, you are on your way to becoming a man. The poem is instructing the son to be patient. The poem is instructing the son to Keep his head "when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you."

Every stanza requires a balanced life. 

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

No doubt, self control is one key concept that the speaker is relating to his son. Don't hate. Don;t give way to hating. Live a balanced life that will help you become a man. 

Dream, but don't make dreams your master. If you can lose it all and begin all over again and never say a word about your losses, you are learning to become a man:

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:

If you can hold on when everything in your body is screaming give up, you will become a man. Endurance is the key to becoming a man. Never, ever, give up:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

Truly, this poem is filled with valuable instruction. It is the key to becoming a man. If you can remain humble and yet have the confidence to interact with royalty, then you are on your way to becoming a man. If you can keep foes and friends from hurting you, you are becoming a man:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Do you agree with the message of the poem "If"?

How can it be a bad thing to encourage a son to do the things which this poem encourages:  "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,"  "trust yourself when all men doubt you," make allowance for their doubting (tolerate others), and more.  The implication, of course, is that the world is hard and accusing and intolerant; however, encouraging words can never be a bad thing.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Do you agree with the message of the poem "If"?

I agree with it in a lot of ways because I think that it tells us that we need to be strong even when things go against us.  It tells us not to lose our heads when things start to get tough.  I like the idea that we should be stoic and persistent.  To me, that is the main message of the poem.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Do you agree with the message of the poem "If"?

The message of the poem as one where there is advice given to a child is a powerfully compelling idea. Kipling depicts it as a rite of passage, a voice of experience speaking to one of innocence. The notion of how to be an adult or how to survive in the world of more mature choices with greater consequences is a very persuasive message. The presentation of examples or situations where these choices must be made is powerfully effective. The different scenarios presented are ones where choices have to be made and the blue print being provided help dictate these choices and break them down into their most effective and meaningful elements. I like the format of how only when all of these choices have been made can one be called an adult. The message of successful navigation of consciousness as one where individuals are defined by the choices they make and the use of one’s autonomy is something with which I do agree.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on