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!
– Rudyard Kipling
from Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies
Written in 1895; the poem 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.
The poem gives advice on how one should live one’s life and takes the reader through various ways in which the reader can rise above adversity that will almost certainly be thrown one’s way at some point in one’s lives.
Which brings me to think how much anxiety and stress one attaches to life and aim of fulfilling goals, there is perhaps no respite from the constant nagging at the back of the brain - the opening line itself led me into a reverie, can we really manage to keep our heads and steer ourselves away from blame?
Kipling demonstrates the importance of being able to pick oneself up and start again if one fails—even if the thing they’ve failed at has taken all of their life to attempt. The reader must always be prepared to start again.
He is reminding his reader that is important to be able to bounce back from disappointment or pain. One must not dwell on his enemies or the hurt a loved one could potentially cause.
The poem goes beyond the superficial aspects of modern manhood, and delves into the deeper meaning of the word. It's more of a gift than a poem if you ask me.
If you guys enjoyed this poem then I invite you to delight in more of this Poet's inspirational work, just follow this link and you'll come across his complete collection of poems.
Do let me know your thoughts in the comment section below and if you have any particular favorites please mention them also.