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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!

               —Rudyard Kipling

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Thank you for posting this. Years ago I printed this and it hangs framed as a daily reminder.

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  • 2 years later...


I also thank you for posting and pinning this excellent poem. A classic of Western thought.

Many years before I had ever heard of Ayn Rand, I heard this poem recited many times by my late father as we were working together on our family farm.

My father only went through high school, then WWII and directly to the hard-working life of a farmer, but he had a great memory and would often recite long classic English language poems unexpectedly.

We had cows and chickens on our farm, we pasteurized the milk and gathered the eggs, and then we delivered them house to house three days a week. As we drove in his pickup truck along our route, he would suddenly turn to me with a smile and start reciting these poems, Kipling’s *If* being his favorite. Father to son.

Years later, reading of the funeral of Frank O’Conner, I noticed the mention of this poem being read at graveside by David Kelly. I accessed the poem again and decided to share it with loved ones, so I took a course in calligraphy in order to ornament it properly. Then, of course, Ayn Rand wanted it read at her own graveside, again by David Kelly.

When my own father died, I gave a eulogy for him in which I mentioned his penchant for quoting great poetry. I quoted parts of some of his favorites. But I ended it by quoting all of *If,* his favorite. Son to father.

-Ross Barlow.

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