Free Term Paper on Kipling's If

  1. Essay Galaxy Archive, 45,000 + essays and term papers (highest quality)
  2. Monster Essay Archive, 40,000+ essays and term papers  
  3. Essay Archive, 35,000+ essays and term papers
  4. Free Term Papers and Book Reports Index  (Over 2500 good papers)

Enter Your Term Paper Topic Below:

Search For Your Essay At MONSTER ESSAYS!

Home Return to Index       

IF it is true that familiarity breeds contempt, it would explain the contradictions that surround Rudyard Kipling's famous poem If-. On the one hand it is one of the most popular and best-known poems in the English language. On the other this enormous popularity has done it a disservice. For instance, despite appearing in many anthologies of verse, If- is excluded from The New Oxford Book of English Verse. Instead, editor Helen Gardner selects Kipling's Mandalay, Danny Deever, Cities and Thrones and Powers, The Way through the Woods, and the imperialistic Recessional.


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), poet, short-story writer and novelist, was born in Bombay. He was sent to England to be educated, and then returned to India at the age of 17, where he rapidly made a name for himself as a superb journalist and caustic observer of Anglo- Indian society. He returned to England in 1889, where he achieved celebrity status with his poems of army life, Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), which established him as an unofficial spokesman for the then much-despised British soldier, and for the British Empire. From this period until his death, Kipling's reputation was to vary according to the political climate.

Kipling was inclined to be crudely chauvinistic, and to display unpleasant arrogance towards peoples ruled by or hostile to Britain, though he also emphasized British responsibility for the welfare of the governed peoples. Be that as it may, it is interesting to note that his most enduringly popular works are two of his children's books, The Jungle Book (1894-5) and the Just So Stories (1902), the latter of which Kipling illustrated himself. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

Kipling's poetry is striking for its success in using, vividly and musically, popular forms of speech such as the dramatic monologue and ballad tradition. He was also able to write poetry appropriate for public occasions and capable of stirring the feelings of a large public. His poetry is generally simple in its components but, when it rises above the level of doggerel, strong in its impact. It needs to be read in selection.

Which brings us back to If-. The poem first appeared in Kipling's less celebrated children's book Rewards and Fairies (1910). Apart from its over-quoted opening lines `If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you', its most memorable lines are in the final stanza:

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!

In his autobiography Kipling was candid both about the poem and its success. He felt that the lines had been "anthologized to weariness" and claimed that they had done him no good with "the Young", who were always complaining to him that they had to write them out "as an impot", (ie. an `imposition', public school parlance for lines written out as a form of punishment)!

As for the content of the poem, he said that it "contained counsels of perfection most easy to give". And that is the point: The many conditions that make up the single thirty-two line sentence of the poem are, of course, impossible to fulfill. No one gets to be `a Man' if these are the requirements. Though admirable in themselves, and worth aiming at, the standards required are unattainable; this is the test that everyone fails...

Not so much an inventory of wholesome duties as an accessible `metaphysical' poem - Kipling was influenced by John Donne's poem The Undertaking - If- is both exuberant and solemn in its depiction of the ethical battlefield facing the young adolescent. As so often with Kipling's poetry, the overall impression of If- is far more interesting than its individual clichés. Despite outmoded references to `knaves', `pitch-and-toss', `Kings' and `Man', the poem - like Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken - has an appeal that transcends time and place. Indeed, in today's hard-edged world it is every bit as inspirational and relevant as it was in the long-vanished world of 1910.

1. Rudyard Kiplings Kim
I must say that Rudyard Kipling's Kim can be interpreted as a project that articulates the "hegemonic" relations between the colonizer and the colonized during British imperial rule in India. Kipling'
2. Rudyard Kipling
, born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865, made a significant contribution to English Literature in various genres including poetry, short story and novel. His birth took place in an affluent fami
3. Rudyard Kipling
, born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865, made a significant contribution to English Literature in various genres including poetry, short story and novel. His birth took place in an affluent fami
4. Victorian Literature
" The (1832-1901)" Victoria became queen of Great Britain in 1837. Her reign, the longest in English history, lasted until 1901. This period is called the Victorian Age. During the Victorian Age, grea
5. Imperialism
is the domination by one country of the political, economic, or cultural life of another country or region in order to increase its own wealth and power. during the period following the Age of Explor
6. Kim Kim
gives a vivid picture of the complexities in India under British rule. It shows the life of the bazaar mystics, of the natives, of the British military. There is a great deal of action and movement, f
7. Creative Writing: John Griffith Biography
Let me put this heavy load down and take some of these bulky clothes off and I'll tell you about how I became a short story and novel writer. My name is John Griffith London. But I like to be called J
8. Stephen Crane
was one of the United States foremost naturalists in the late 1800’s ("Stephen" n.p.). He depicted the human mind in a way that few others have been capable of doing while examining his
9. Tripmaster Monkey
Wittman uses theatre throughout the book “” to get back to his cultural roots and Asian culture. He is trying to find himself through theatre and to open up a new avenue for his people. Th
10. A Analysis Of Jack London Nove
A literary Analysis of Jack London three most recognized works, Sea Wolf; The Call of the Wild; and White Fang. Jack London lived a full life, even though he died at the young age of forty. In his li
11. 1984, Science-fiction Or Reali
ty “On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you
12. Jack London
Thesis statement: , as a writer, used Darwinian determinism, Nietzschean theories of race, and adventure in his writings. II. Darwinian determinism A. What is Darwinian determinism? B. How does use t
13. Jack London 2
Thesis statement: Jack London, as a writer, used Darwinian determinism, Nietzschean theories of race, and adventure in his writings. II. Darwinian determinism A. What is Darwinian determinism? B. How
14. Jack London 3
Thesis statement: Jack London, as a writer, used Darwinian determinism, Nietzschean theories of race, and adventure in his writings. II. Darwinian determinism A. What is Darwinian determinism? B. How
15. Heart Of Darkness
Part I In the novel, Second Class Citizen, the main character, Adah, is a strong, Nigerian women who faces sexism from within her own culture since she was born. She explains, "She was a girl who
16. Understanding "Porphyria's Lover"
Trials and hearings take place frequently in our society today. In a trial, it is the job of two lawyers to persuade a jury to see a situation a certain way, regardless if it is the right way, the tru
17. Crital Essay Of Jack London
The idea of peaceful rebellion through nature is the basis for many books. Kipling was one of the first one to do it through many of his novels, but Jack London got a lot deeper into that concept. He
18. Jack London 2
Jack London was born John Griffiths Chaney and changed his name for unknown reasons. He was born on January 12, 1876 in San Francisco. His mother, Flora Wellman, was unmarried and of wealthy backgroun
19. Edgar Allan Poe
was born near London on the 19th of January 1809. His mother was an actor and his father was a doctor. When Poe was 2 years old his father disappeared. His mother, who was seriously ill in tuberculosi
20. Edward James Hughes
is one of the most outstanding living British poets. In 1984 he was awarded the title of the nation's Poet Laureate. He came into prominence in the late fifties and early sixties, having earned a repu