Know Your Enemy: RUDYARD KIPLING


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is one of England’s most famous authors.    His poem If is frequently voted the nations favourite.    And yet, as usual, the masses (and poetry-lovers) are utterly wrong and misguided!    If is a terrible poem, breaking the rules of the subjunctive, the passive, upper- and lower-case, and the proper placement of prepositions, in a tongue-twisting melée of poetic incompetence.

We shall, therefore, now present a corrected version of this poem (in the right-hand column), to a chorus of joyful groans.

I got this idea from the QES.  Thanks, chaps!

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;

CORRECTED VERSION
If you be able to keep your head when all about you
May be losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you be able to trust yourself when all men may doubt you,
But make allowance, also, for their doubting_:
If you be able to wait and be not tired by waiting,
Or to be lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or when someone hates, do not give way to hating,
And yet look not too good, nor talk too wisely;


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 be able to dream—and not to make dreams your mister;
If you be able to think—and not to make thoughts your aim,
If you would meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you be able to bear to hear the truth you would have spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things to which you gave your life_, broken,
And stoop and build them 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 were able to make one heap of all your winnings
And to risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And to lose, and to start again at your beginnings
And never be breathing a word about your loss:
If you were able to force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they have been gone,
And so hold on when there be 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!

If you may be able to talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or to walk with Kings—nor to lose the low-class touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends be able to hurt you,
If all men were to count with you, but none too much:
If you were able to fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of run distances,
The Earth, and everything that’s on it, may be yours,
And—what be more—you’ll have been a Man, my son!

 

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