Kipling Tuesday: 'If,' minus the satires

Kipling Tuesday: 'If,' minus the satires
Source: Reusableart.com
"If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,"
begins Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, "If."
But quickly -- what's the next line? If your reply is "Then you don't understand what it's like to work here," I understand, but I  also have a marvelous poem to introduce to you.
"If" is one of the works of literature that I think of as a victim of its own success. There are so many funny "updated" version of the poem that the real thing can get lost in the shuffle.
It's not alone. For example, I finally decided to read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson when I read yet another parody of the story and couldn't answer a question about whether it was a good parody.
Knowing "If" in the same way will reveal which parodies are the good ones as it gives the gift of the real thing. (Hmm, an interesting typo there nearly made it "the read thing.")
Consider some of the beautiful advice in the remaining stanzas of the poem:
"If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too,"
is a very modern-sounding bit of self-help advice.
"If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,"
well, maybe you're not reading this on your phone. Are you so tired by waiting that you really must have something to read, even here?
"Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:"
See above at trusting yourself. Reactions to hate make me think of reactions to attacks, intentional or not, in hockey games. Sometimes, the best thing a hockey player can do is skate away, reacting peacefully while his opponent is given a penalty -- and thus seeing his team get an advantage.
"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!"
This ending is why the whole poem, "If," is on so many graduation cards. But not just for young men, these days. I got to know the poem when I found it on the door of a wardrobe (the piece of furniture, not the clothes collection) I used in college.
So much good advice in so few words -- no wonder it's a classic.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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