What is the poet's message in "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

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I will presume that you are speaking of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  The message the poet is trying to convey to the reader is how to behave, or how to carry oneself.  This is represented in the following lines:  “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, / Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.”  The poet employs a series of situations that will compel the person being spoken to, presumably the reader, to aspire to readher "the better angels in their nature."  This is accomplished in setting up situations and providing a sense of guidance as to how to approach these predicaments. In employing contradictory imagery, the speaker seeks to provide a guide as to how to assume leadership and maturation.  For example, the opening lines address how one should behave in the social setting concerning how to pursue the right path.  In presenting such a dilemma in this manner, the poet touches the reader with a description of a situation that nearly every individual from divergent walks of life can understand and with which empathy is apparent.  This is continued throughout the poem, when the poem discusses dreams (second stanza), winning and losing (third stanza), and exploration of commitment through perseverance and challenge (second part of third stanza).  The poet is seeking to touch the reader in conveying situations that have confronted many and the realization of these is that through following "the better angels of one's nature, " maturation and strength will emerge (closing lines.)  While these lines do appear to include only men, the meaning of the poem has been extrapolated to include women, when read in a modern view.

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What is the message of "If" by Rudyard Kipling?

"If" is intended to instruct its readers on the character qualities a good leader must possess. The first stanza of the poem counsels self-confidence and integrity, the ability to "trust yourself when all men doubt you." On the other hand, it also warns against the foolishness of arrogance, pointing out that men still need to "make allowance for their doubting" as a means of learning from others. Most important, one should not repeat the behaviors that one does not appreciate in one's own life: "being hated," one should not "give way to hating." This warning against excess of temprament is repeated throughout the poem. Kipling says, in not so many words, that his reader should dream, while not becoming an idle dreamer, and be able to be a person of action. A man, according to Kipling, should bear loss and fortune with equal fortitude and resilience, and should always stay true to his convictions, to "talk with crowds and keep your virtue" and never lose the "common touch" even though he might "walk with Kings." In short, Kipling is suggesting that a true leader, a "man," ought to be able to balance contradictory positions, living in the world, with others, while maintaining his own virtue.

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