Words Challenge, Day 5

One of the great things about alternating what I put out each day is that I get to revisit some of my all time favorite authors and poems. Today’s is one I learned when I was thirteen years old–it’s a poem that taught me the value of a cool mind and level reasoning. It’s a gorgeously written poem, as well. And so…

If, by Rudyard Kipling

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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!


Now, I realize that’s a fairly long list of demands. But I think it’s a bit sad if in today’s word we view his standards as unattainable. Many of them are common sense, I feel: don’t lie, don’t hate other people, believe in yourself. Don’t get too caught up in dreams, don’t get too caught up in thoughts… it’s like for every stanza we’re already halfway there! Of course, the rest of it definitely needs work. And then as you go on the challenges become harder–speak with crowds and keep your virtue, walk with kings and not lose the common touch… but even if they are difficult, I want to keep trying. I want to “be a man (well, woman) my son.” Daughter. Thanks for reading!




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