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It has been years since I touched on April as National Poetry Month. Truly, years. As someone who actually enjoys poetry and as a librarian, whose duty it is too champion all things literature . . . well, goodness it is high time to nod to the poetic form once again.

 

I have many poems that I cherish, but this is one of my most beloved. It is written by none other than Rudyard Kipling, the 19th century author of Kim and The Jungle Book. It speaks in the masculine theme, but serves it purposes to all parents, mentors, coaches, and teachers. It is also a great motivating pep-talk and a reminder that brave men and women are not born but become that way through actions.

If–by Rudyard Kipling

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 allowances 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 to 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 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 to 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!

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