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If - Rudyard Kipling

  • Date Submitted: 08/29/2015 06:23 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.1 
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IF - RUDYARD KIPLING

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is perhaps his most famous poem. Kipling composed the poem in 1909 while living in Great Britain. It was first published in 1910 in Kipling’s collection
“If” attracted immediate nationwide attention in Britain, and it was quickly adopted as a popular anthem. “If” is a didactic poem, a work meant to give instruction. In this case, “If” serves as an instruction in several specific traits of a good leader. Kipling offers this instruction not through listing specific characteristics, but by providing concrete illustrations of the complex actions a man should or should not take which would reflect these characteristics.
If Summary
Stanza 1
The first stanza of “If” illustrates the practice of self-confidence and expresses that, in being confident; the reader must have the courage to face unpopularity and disagreement. This stanza also, however, advises against a self-confidence that does not allow for the consideration of opposing ideas. In exhorting the reader to both ignore doubt and make allowance for doubt (lines 3 and 4), Kipling creates a paradox (the combination of mutually exclusive ideas that, while seemingly contradictory, serve to make a point in their contradiction) that is characteristic of the tone of the entire poem.
Line 5 advises patience, line 6 advises honesty, and line 7 advises fortitude of character. These three lines, along with the first four lines of the poem, share a common thread: they provide instruction in the maintenance of righteous behavior in the face of unrighteousness. However, in line 8, Kipling is quick to qualify his advice, telling the reader “yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.” That is, in behaving righteously, a person must avoid smugness.
CENTRAL IDEA:
The central idea of this poem is that success comes from self-control and a true sense of the values of things. In extremes lies danger. A man must not lose heart because of doubts or opposition, yet he must do his...

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