IF- A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

August 5, 2016

IF- A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

Good morning, my friends around the world.

It is almost a cliche to say that we live in troubled times, with bombs exploding everywhere and men and women are becoming jihadists killing everyone in their wake. They forgot to Love; instead they embrace Hate. It is time we look at ourselves and ask IF…It is time to reflect, lower our voices and start to listen. There is plenty we can learn from one another if we celebrate diversity and respect the dignity of difference. Empathy is today is a forgotten word. Why? Because we have become individuals, not a community. 

The world is a beautiful place and there is still room for everyone. But in a hedonistic and greedy world, we will destroy ourselves. My own country is in a self-destruction mode because we Malaysians and mea culpa have allowed our politicians to act with impunity and because we are do not care enough for our future generation.–Din Merican



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!

17 thoughts on “IF- A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

  1. Love this poem. The other beautiful poem is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.


    Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

    If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann c.1920

  2. For every Desiderata there is


    Always make a great noise and you
    will be noticed. Always shout
    the other fellow down, especially
    the dull and the ignorant, they are not
    worth listening to.

    Always mix with loud and aggressive persons.
    Compare yourself constantly with others,
    and make sure that you’re on top. There will always
    be lesser persons than yourself to beat.

    Be careful in business and make sure you crook
    the other person first. Be blind to virtue,
    it only covers the guilty heart.
    Don’t be yourself, be whatever is expedient.

    Be cynical about all things, especially love.
    Don’t give in to old age, keep pushing. You may be
    a child of the universe, but the only right you
    have to be here is at the expense of the other man.

    With all it’s glitter, money, palaces, fast cars,
    smart clothes, good food and wine,
    the world is a pretty rotten place,
    so keep screwing it up,

    and above all – show a profit.

    Sounds familiar?

  3. /// Mr Bojangles August 5, 2016 at 10:46 am
    For every Desiderata there is CONSIDERATA
    Sounds familiar? ///

    Very. I thought it was Donation Sonata.

  4. Poetry again, Din?
    Yeah.. This is not strictly poetry, but purpose -so here’s something i dredged up from Wendell Berry’s ‘Economy and Pleasure’.

  5. Wish my English is better. Within that sense of empathy, and loving feeling , I came to realize both Confucianism and Taoism has different attitude facing a world that they felt alienated and do not belong. Confucianism carries a sense of responsibility to keep the virtue to change that society 無求生以害仁,有殺身以成仁. Taoism responded in looking out for a beauty with a melancholy longing of going back to that original thought of urgeless nature 無知無欲的”損之又損,以至于無”. “Apa Cina Mahu”. That is what the Cina inherited in Malaysia.

    The coolies Chinese in Malaya carries a lot of that sense of helplessness. This differs from the recent mainlander who were survived a cultural revolution. Tun M is right. Mainlander Chinese is really a different beast. Apa Cina in this Tanah Melayu want? Exactly the same thing as the red shirters want. A Chinese culture with a yearning for a melancholic beauty. If….

  6. Unfortunately coolies in Malaysia forgot both Confucianism and Taoism. Instead they kept only the kaisu and kiasi spirit which they thought that was what kept them alive from the aftermath of a fall of a civilization.

  7. Yes….yes…..the sheer beauty of English poetry , written in beautiful English , and a sheer joy to reflect of our own ‘ childhood ‘ innocence in those schooling years !

    My favourite :


    The more we live , more brief appear
    Our life’s succeeding stages ;
    A day to childhood seems a year,
    And years like like passing ages.

    The gladsome current of our youth ,
    Ere passion yet disorders ,
    Steals lingering like a river smooth
    Along its grassy borders

    But as the care-worn cheeks grow wan ,
    And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker ,
    Ye Stars , that measure life to man ,
    Why seem your courses quicker ? ,

    When joys have lost their bloom and breath
    And life itself is vapid ,
    Why , as we reach the Falls of Death ,
    Feel we its tide more rapid ?

    It may be strange – yet whould change
    Time’s course to slower speeding ,
    When one by one our friends have gone
    And left our bosoms bleeding ?

    Heaven gives our years of fading strength ,
    Indemnifying fleetness ;
    And those of youth , a seeming length ,
    Proportion’d to their sweetness .


    Remark : Sigh…..how swift our own passing ages….?

  8. Another of my favourite:

    356. Auguries of Innocence
    William Blake (1757–1827)

    TO see a world in a grain of sand,
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And eternity in an hour.

    A robin redbreast in a cage 5
    Puts all heaven in a rage.
    A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
    Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
    A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
    Predicts the ruin of the state. 10
    A horse misused upon the road
    Calls to heaven for human blood.
    Each outcry of the hunted hare
    A fibre from the brain does tear.
    A skylark wounded in the wing, 15
    A cherubim does cease to sing.
    The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight
    Does the rising sun affright.

    Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
    Raises from hell a human soul. 20
    The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
    Keeps the human soul from care.
    The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
    And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.
    The bat that flits at close of eve 25
    Has left the brain that won’t believe.
    The owl that calls upon the night
    Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.
    He who shall hurt the little wren
    Shall never be belov’d by men. 30
    He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
    Shall never be by woman lov’d.
    The wanton boy that kills the fly
    Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
    He who torments the chafer’s sprite 35
    Weaves a bower in endless night.
    The caterpillar on the leaf
    Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
    Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
    For the last judgment draweth nigh. 40
    He who shall train the horse to war
    Shall never pass the polar bar.
    The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
    Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
    The gnat that sings his summer’s song 45
    Poison gets from slander’s tongue.
    The poison of the snake and newt
    Is the sweat of envy’s foot.
    The poison of the honey bee
    Is the artist’s jealousy. 50

    The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
    Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
    A truth that’s told with bad intent
    Beats all the lies you can invent.
    It is right it should be so; 55
    Man was made for joy and woe;
    And when this we rightly know,
    Thro’ the world we safely go.
    Joy and woe are woven fine,
    A clothing for the soul divine. 60
    Under every grief and pine
    Runs a joy with silken twine.
    The babe is more than swaddling bands;
    Throughout all these human lands
    Tools were made, and born were hands, 65
    Every farmer understands.
    Every tear from every eye
    Becomes a babe in eternity;
    This is caught by females bright,
    And return’d to its own delight. 70
    The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
    Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
    The babe that weeps the rod beneath
    Writes revenge in realms of death.
    The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air, 75
    Does to rags the heavens tear.
    The soldier, arm’d with sword and gun,
    Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
    The poor man’s farthing is worth more
    Than all the gold on Afric’s shore. 80
    One mite wrung from the lab’rer’s hands
    Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
    Or, if protected from on high,
    Does that whole nation sell and buy.
    He who mocks the infant’s faith 85
    Shall be mock’d in age and death.
    He who shall teach the child to doubt
    The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.
    He who respects the infant’s faith
    Triumphs over hell and death. 90
    The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
    Are the fruits of the two seasons.
    The questioner, who sits so sly,
    Shall never know how to reply.
    He who replies to words of doubt 95
    Doth put the light of knowledge out.
    The strongest poison ever known
    Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
    Nought can deform the human race
    Like to the armour’s iron brace. 100
    When gold and gems adorn the plow,
    To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
    A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
    Is to doubt a fit reply.
    The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile 105
    Make lame philosophy to smile.
    He who doubts from what he sees
    Will ne’er believe, do what you please.
    If the sun and moon should doubt,
    They’d immediately go out. 110
    To be in a passion you good may do,
    But no good if a passion is in you.
    The whore and gambler, by the state
    Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
    The harlot’s cry from street to street 115
    Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.
    The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
    Dance before dead England’s hearse.
    Every night and every morn
    Some to misery are born, 120
    Every morn and every night
    Some are born to sweet delight.
    Some are born to sweet delight,
    Some are born to endless night.
    We are led to believe a lie 125
    When we see not thro’ the eye,
    Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
    When the soul slept in beams of light.
    God appears, and God is light,
    To those poor souls who dwell in night; 130
    But does a human form display
    To those who dwell in realms of day.

  9. Definition of jihadist? What is the real jihad? Has this word also been hijacked to describe just that awful activity?

  10. In the Hadith or Sunnah , it was said by the Messenger of Islam :

    ‘ The most excellent Jihad (Holy war ) is that for the conquest of self….’ –

    Why self ? there’s the angelic side , as well as the ‘ iblis ‘ side , which is the Nafs !

    If man does not conquer his own evil side , his lot will be in abode of hell….

    But what is ‘ Hell ” actually ? Don;t know …..long. long way to know …..

  11. I see poems as rambling thoughts often peppered with gem liners like these.

    1 Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink
    2 Mine is to do and die and ask not why.

    Sometimes I question myself if I have been an author of an original thought. There have been few but I can’t pin it down as such as they straddle between original thought (authentic and instant) and creative thought (solution thought following deep thinking)

  12. /// Hawking Eye August 6, 2016 at 9:38 pm
    Sometimes I question myself if I have been an author of an original thought. There have been few but I can’t pin it down as such as they straddle between original thought (authentic and instant) and creative thought (solution thought following deep thinking) ///

    I have had good and original thoughts. However, those that are good are not original; and those that are original are not good. (Even this last line is not original – but I think it is good).

    The only original thought I can think of was coming up with the phrase “chopstick countries”.

    And years ago, I had to resort to using slash slash slash /// blah, blah, blah…. /// to denote that I am quoting. Inverted commas and brackets do not always work as sometime a bracket combined with other character comes out as smiley.

    So, yes, I was the first one to use ///………///

  13. Three cheers to you /// “The”///

    Originality as I see in the instantaneous responses of some statesmen:

    I see the world right side up (Nehru when asked by a reporter what does he see standing upside down in yoga)

    The road from Damascus to Tel Aviv is also the road from Tel Aviv to Damascus ( Moshe Dayan, Israel’s then Defence Minister, responding to threat from Syria’s President Assad before the Yom Kippur war (1973) that he will roll out the tanks into Israel

    Talk softly but always carry a big stick (Ex-US President Roosevelt)

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