Do You Like Kipling? // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

Father & SonIn a conversation about literature a while back, I asked, “Do you like Kipling?”  To that, my friend responded, “I don’t know. I’ve never Kipled.”

The British author, Rudyard Kipling is best known for his classic piece, “The Jungle Book”, as well as his collection of short animal stories.  A few years ago, while digging in the archives of the British Museum, I was privileged to actually hold an aged letter Kipling had written with his own hand.  It was a surreal moment, spanning the centuries, and drawing kindred hearts together.

In my opinion, Kipling’s most inspiring work is a short poem entitled, “If”, which he penned for his son’s birthday:

If you can keep your head when all about they 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 imposters just the same.

If you can bear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Of watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop to build them up with work-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 nerves 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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