I read this poem as part of my school curriculum. It’s been 13 years now and I remember the page where it was written in the book. The course was over, the poem was well read. The meaning as taught by teachers was well understood but the application was never taught. Some verses are not to be taught, they are there to just to be shown to you. May be that had clicked me sometime in early 2000s when I recalled this poem after someone stated the name of the poem in one of the institute lectures.
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!
-By, Rudyard Kipling
I want to write what I think about the poem; how it has guided me over the years; how it helps me to be saner every time the rule of practical sanity wins over the pure sanity; how it grows to make me long for growing within myself, looking for the corrections here and there first for me myself, preparing for a more presentable and understandable outlook and still accept that the things are still not there; how it gives courage to me to believe in forgiving, forgetting, foregoing, and forecasting the forthcoming uncertainties and still deal them as if I knew it all, I kept mum to dream it all in the reality; how it makes me fight for perfection not allowing my mistakes, make allowance for mistakes of others, dealing both with the importance and still knowing the virtue would prevail even if all this would be gone someday; how it shows me to keep gripping the feet on the ground, waiting for it to slip just to make me fall, making me look for more crippled form of land to show me that my feet are still not strong, my grip is still weak, I have a too long way to go before I can firm strong somewhere; how it leaves me to be left in crowd unnoticed, then makes me show difference once the crowd becomes listeners; how it empowers my hands to go stronger for a firm handshake and then makes me soft enough to caress the cheek of a small baby.
The poem is perfect in showing the different interpretations with the same set of words at different times of life or for different people in the same situation.
It makes you live fully, it makes you to let others live fully.
I wanted to write it all but now I don’t think that I should write anything, let’s leave it to you to interpret, feel, learn and swim, sway, fly in the flow of it.
P.S.: I have posted the video of my favorite player ‘Roger Federer’ reciting my favorite poem ‘If’ with his experience & learning.
<img source: http://bahai-nas.blogspot.com>