Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Filling the Unforgiving Minute


The best poems are timeless and this is certainly no exception, gender set aside.

"If--"

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



Addendum:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1146109/The-remarkable-story-Rudyard-Kiplings-If--swashbuckling-renegade-inspired-it.html

30 comments:

  1. Teresa, this is one of the greatest poets of all time and one of his poems which can be read over and over again - and it suits you and everyone in their lives. It was a gift for me just now in these days of my life. A great poem. Thank you.
    Grethe ´)

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    1. It's wonderful. Every line is perfect. I'm so glad you like it. You've probably posted it yourself somewhere along the line ... :)

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  2. It is just simply the most perfect thing for me to read right now, Teresa. It's uncanny how every single line speaks to me. I cannot say thank you enough. My heart feels very much healed right now. Puts things into perspective.

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    1. I felt the same, DJan. Very much the same.

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  3. And these words still hold true today. It's amazing how things are so different but so the same.

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    1. Every word. It's so classically timeless. In this very moment, Bill, I remember the first time I read Kipling. It was in my grandparent's bedroom where they had some bookshelves. I sat on the edge of their bed and read. It may have been this very poem ... who knows ... life is interesting, isn't it?

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    2. The first writing I read by Kipling was The Jungle Book. I was so fascinated by his ability to capture the heart and soul of wild creatures. I might have been ten or eleven years old. My father had been unemployed for years, we did not have a television, and in 5th grade I read just over 100 books. Its funny how things turn out.

      The quote that has stayed with me all of these years from "The Jungle Book" is “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

      Wonderful.

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    3. I was a voracious reader, as well. I don't have anything close to a count, but at point it was four a week and that was only because it was the library limit.

      The quote is perfect for your life, just perfect, and certainly a good understanding of life

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  4. This is the sportsman's and athlete's creed:

    If you can meet with Triumph and Defeat
    And treat those two impostors just the same...


    "Winner" and "Loser" are imposters. The real authentic participant in games are the players & contestants. They share the play and its drama together. Like many things that are shared, the game itself is a holy thing. This I believe.

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    1. I think this is so true of sports, the challenges and the gamemanship ... I think Kipling was addressing the larger picture as it applies to all human endeavor. Sometimes in our day to day life we view things as disasters that don't deserve that word. Fukushima is a disaster ... perspective is everything. :)

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    2. Teresa, It was the ancient Greeks who first wrote of their rituals of games and sports as a metaphor of life and death. Christian thinkers renewed this thinking. I think that this classic shadow of respect for athleticism and aestheticism abides today, under the surface, of course.

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    3. Yes, it does seem to be an abiding metaphor for all aspects of life. Thanks, Doc.:)

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  5. That is a great piece of writing. All about perspective.

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  6. Kipling's poetry, coupled with your gracious presentation of it, Teresa; beautiful. I wonder if he wrote this when his son was a child or just before he went off to war.

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned this. I did a bit more research and found a wonderful article that talks about how this incredible poem came to be. I've added it to the post. Thank you!

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    2. Thanks, Teresa. It was a very interesting article about the poem. I appreciated the link.
      Have you ever seen the movie about Kipling and his son, My Son Jack? PBS aired it a few years ago. The article brought it to mind.

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    3. I have not, Penny. Thanks for the info. I want to discover more about this amazing person.

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  7. I've always appreciated the depth and genius of this poem. So much truth, in so few words. I had to smile at a line which never has caught me before - the words about looking too good and talking too wise. We seem to have a surplus of those folks, these days.

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    1. The difference between then and now is everyone now has a forum for expressing their opinion: blogging, tweeting and tumbling. :)

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  8. You have never lived until youve Kippled!

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    1. He certainly had a grasp on what matters ... Nice to see you, Tony.

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  9. Dear Teresa, such a little word--if. And yet with it Kipling captured the whole of being a fulfilled human being. He seemed to know the wholeness of maturity. And yet I so remember watching on PBS the story of Kipling and his son whom the poet/writer gleefully sent off to the trenches of WWI. Daniel Radcliffe--of Harry Potter fame--played the son and the dramatization made me weep for both him and his father.

    The poem speaks to me right now as I struggle with trying to find an agent to represent my writing. Keeping in perspective what is really important about my life's journey is essential during this process. I need to remember that I am not my writing and that it is the writing that is essential, not the getting published. "IF" I can remember that I will stay centered and balanced. Peace.

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    1. It's so amazing to me how one little word can create an entire perspective, or change it. Many people have gone through life with a distorted sense of honor, particularly as it applies to war.

      The publishing world has changed so dramatically ... I wish you all the best as it unfolds for you.

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  10. Rudyard Kipling has some wise words. Haven't read him in ages -- thanks for sharing this -- barbara

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    1. It really spoke to me and seems so timely for so many reasons.

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  11. One of my favorite authors. The man writes so intelligently, so thoughtfully.

    Pearl

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    1. Hi Pearl, so good to hear from you. His intelligence does come shining through, though he lived in less enlightened times ... i.e. White Man's Burden ... :)

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  12. Many UK politicians frequently quote from this. Usually not very convincingly. Kipling was only impressive as a wordsmith imho, rather than as a man. He supported the 'White Man's Burden' (as you say) imperialist wars/pogroms. Until, that is, his own son was killed. I couldn't bear to read the Daily Mail article (a right wing rag) but I expect it mentioned that this poem was written for his son.

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    1. I tell myself, to assuage my own feelings about this man's writing, he was a product of the times he lived in, but then I think of Twain and his The War Prayer and realize there were very enlightened people then who spoke of the horror of war and condemned openly those who condone it.

      Thanks for commenting, Tony.

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