“If” – By Rudyard Kipling

If—” is a poem by English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, written circa 1895 as a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson. It is a literary example of Victorian-era stoicism. The poem, first published in Rewards and Fairies (1910), is written in the form of paternal advice to the poet’s son, John.


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!


Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).

37 thoughts on ““If” – By Rudyard Kipling”

  1. The previous generations of men knew all too well because they, of course, listened to their forefathers. You and I, Jim, we are now the men that know all too well. We also recognize that we are merely the continuity of our fathers, and we will give this to our sons. Nothing fundamental changes, it’s merely the players that are interchangeable.

    My biggest disappointment with life – inexplicably – It’s not easy maintaining the obvious.

    1. The obvious would be much easier to maintain if we weren’t bombarded with false messaging constantly. That’s why I wrote that electronic fast piece yesterday

  2. Born of the rubble that lies there
    Nurtured through snow and through rain
    By men whose only companions
    Are derrick, and shovel, and crane.
    Center for great institutions
    Place where conglomerates grow
    Yet home for the little cigar shop
    With the candies all in a row.
    Seven-seven-seven they will call you.
    Towards heaven, heaven, heaven you will soar.
    Only God can make a tree, I will grant you
    But only man can make a fortieth floor.

    “Ode to a Skyscraper”
    – Felix Unger.

    1. God is great.
      God is good.
      Thank you God
      for all this food.
      Bless the food
      Damn the skin
      Open your mouth and cram it in!

    2. “I have been farting all day.
      It sounds like a flock of ducks.
      But it smells like shit.” -A haiku by Honey Badger

  3. False dichotomy. Its not “be an agent or opt out” only. Try being old school Matrix. It so rare these days that the woman in the red dress is programmed to get your attention.

    If you’re tall, in shape and took the red pill, Morpheous give you training simulations left and right. Morpheous’ crew is fucking *thirsty* for the one, and their crew only has about 5% of guys born outside the Matrix, normally ones born in Zion, and even then… Well suffice to say that they’re looking inside the Matrix now, mostly for computer hackers who strike traditional “the one” cues in the oracle’s mind.

    There’s a reason Trinity wanted to bang me over that bald fucker Cypher, and it has zero to do with being a double agent for the Matrix, (because agent smith, I aint one.) This isnt to say never enter the Matrix, far from it but dont lower your dignity to tale the blue pill and become Thomas Anderson, as if its the only way to live inside a computer simulated world. If it IS the only way for you, well okay whatever, but its not the “only” way as a rule for everbody else.

    Fuck being plugged in

      1. “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you lose all T and get chased out of THE OHIO. You take the red pill – Your cock grows 20.59 inches, and I show you just how deep the hole in the wall goes” -MorpHEHus

  4. I planned to post this earlier but got distracted

    by Rudyard Kipling

    It was not part of their blood,
    It came to them very late,
    With long arrears to make good,
    When the Saxon began to hate.

    They were not easily moved,
    They were icy — willing to wait
    Till every count should be proved,
    Ere the Saxon began to hate.

    Their voices were even and low.
    Their eyes were level and straight.
    There was neither sign nor show
    When the Saxon began to hate.

    It was not preached to the crowd.
    It was not taught by the state.
    No man spoke it aloud
    When the Saxon began to hate.

    It was not suddently bred.
    It will not swiftly abate.
    Through the chilled years ahead,
    When Time shall count from the date
    That the Saxon began to hate.

  5. I always liked if but it also reminds me of something I told a college professor after we read Epicticus and his stoic philosophy

    Give me a chair, some rope, a razor and some citrus fruit and we will see how long this cunt believes his own shit.

    Kipling was born to privliage and was famous in his own life. Why are rich fucks always trying to tell us that losing everything is no big deal

    1. Stoicism was a religion for the rich. It’s pretty easy to say that good and evil are matters of perspective when you have a comely slave girl shoving grapes in your face.

      Only the rich wrote so there is a survivorship bias of opinions.

      1. There is a book I like very much with a quote that says, in defense of violence, that all the great writers say violence doesn’t solve anything but the fellas who tend to be great writers aren’t usually the ones who are very good at violence

          1. The full quote

            “The thing about brute force is: it works. Brute force gets a bad press, because the people who press aren’t much good at it. Rhetoric has its merits, and perhaps it would have been more of an achievement to have persuaded him of the folly of belligerence, but it would have taken a long time, and we were blocking the traffic.”

            1. Thank you.

              I actually have another tab open with that post from a year ago as a reminder to buy it. All in good time.

    2. Like Thoreau talking about how great it was to live in the woods – on family-owned acreage with someone else doing your laundry an shit.

    3. Citrus fruit is nutritious, delicious, and torturous.
      Those big shots, pulling strings, they cant trick us !

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