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Fill the unforgiving minute

Things become cliches when they become too popular, too common. To become a cliche you first need to strike a chord. Kipling’s ‘If’ is, I believe, a poem worth re-reading as we head into the New Year.

If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
but make allowance for their doubting too,
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:

If you can dream- and not make dreams your master,
if you can think- and not make thoughts your aim;
if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same;
if you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

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 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!”

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!

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Comments

  1. I assume it’s cheating to pick four lines? These are my favourites.

    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:

    Brilliant.

    Reply
  2. “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
    but make allowance for their doubting too”

    Back yourself… no one else is going to. And don’t take it personally either. We’re all human after all.

    Great post Al cheers.

    Reply
  3. 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;

    It’s so hard just to pick one line the whole poem is great!

    Reply
  4. Here here, If’s a cliche alright but a poignient one- more manifesto for a life well lived than a poem, in my view.

    Favourite stanza’s the one ryan’posted above.

    Reply
  5. 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!”

    That speaks to me these days. Great poem!

    Reply
  6. My Dad gave me Kiplings “IF” as a very young kid and as I type this, a framed copy is directly in front of me. I “attempt” to live by it.

    Reply

 
 

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