Why and under what circumstances was the poem "If" written by Rudyard Kipling?

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Kipling wrote the poem for a children's magazine.  It was written as a complementary piece to a description of George Washington.  Placing it afterwards, Kipling was intending to make a direct statement about the nature of leadership and maturation that Washington represented and Kipling sought to praise.  In writing the poem for a children's book, Kipling sought to morally instruct the child reader as to what would constitute ethical development.  Children's literature had been emerging and Kipling saw his poem as one that can be appreciated by children.  This accounts for the personalized manner in which it is written, as the poem is created as a series of situations where one would imagine what the right path to take would be.  The very strong and instructional tone that is evoked is reminiscent of how one would direct a child and their actions.

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