Student Question

Explain these lines from Kipling's "If": "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch".

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Rudyard Kipling is teaching his son how to be a virtuous man and a leader in his poem “If.”

In the 25th and 26th lines of the poem he writes,

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

He is explaining to his son that having the ability to interact and spend time with people from all walks of life will serve him well. A man, who is able to maintain his morals and standards even while interacting with those of different classes will prosper. Whether interacting with the general population, or those considered to be of a higher class distinction, it is important to be true to yourself. He is advising his son not to degrade himself, nor to put on airs.

These lines become universal when they are applied to all men. When a person can relate to all mankind, he will be on the path to a life well lived, in harmony with others.

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