Heres a virtual movie of the great Rudyard Kipling reading his best loved poem “If” “If—” is a poem written in 1895 by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in the “Brother Square Toes” chapter of Rewards and Fairies, Kipling’s 1910 collection of short stories and poems. Like William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”, it is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the “stiff upper lip” that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue. Its status is confirmed both by the number of parodies it has inspired, and by the widespread popularity it still enjoys amongst Britons. It is often voted Britain’s favourite poem. The poem’s lines, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” is written on the wall of the Centre Court players’ entrance at the British tennis tournament, Wimbledon, and the entire poem was read in a promotional video for the Wimbledon 2008 gentleman’s final by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
According to Kipling in his autobiography Something of Myself, posthumously published in 1937, the poem was inspired by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led a raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa, subsequently called the Jameson Raid. This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory.
The well-known Indian historian and writer Khushwant Singh claims that Kipling’s If is “the essence of the message of The Gita in English.”. The text Singh refers to is the Bhagavad Gita, the ancient Indian scripture. Kipling himself noted in Something of Myself that the poem had been “printed as cards to hang up in offices and bedrooms; illuminated text-wise and anthologized to weariness.If—” has been translated into many languages.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 — 18 January 1936) was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was born in Bombay, British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major “innovator in the art of the short story”; his children’s books are enduring classics of children’s literature; and his best works are said to exhibit “a versatile and luminous narrative gift.
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2011
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!