I am inspired by words. The words may be in a poem, they may be a well-known quote from a writer or they may be from a song that energizes me. Occasionally, I want to share with you a quote, poem or lyrics that inspire me.

Here is the first in this series. This is a poem about advice given by a father to his son.  But, the poem is more universal than that. It could be advice given by a senior lawyer to a junior lawyer. To learn a little more about this poem, read : Rudyard Kipling’s inspirational poem – ‘If’.

There are several videos of Dennis Hopper reciting the poem. One of the first was when he appeared on a 1970 Johnny Cash show. It is hard to picture someone reciting a poem like this on television today.

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 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!
You might also find it valuable to read: Poetry Analysis of IF by Rudyard Kipling. Angel Sharum says:
  • The first section of the poem is about being true to one’s self.
  • The second section is about overcoming obstacles that get in your path, whether by others, or of your own making.
  • The most important lesson in the third section is to never give up!
  • The last section has two important lessons. First, we are all equal. Second, don’t waste time.