Travelers

Rudyard KiplingIf

by Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936

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 all that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son! [have a lot of fun!]

Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, to British parents in Mumbai, India, and spent the first six years of his life there. In 1871, he was taken with his three-year-old sister to live as a boarder in a foster home in England. His parents then returned to India. Rudyard was moved to a boarding school when he was about 13. Biographies say he was severely near-sighted, sickly, and frail; bullied and abused in both places; and that he longed to return to India, which he did when he started making a living as a journalist at age 17.  He wrote prolifically for almost the rest of his life, and died in 1936. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Do you think he would ever have written “If,” “Captain’s Courageous,” “The Just-So Stories,” “The Jungle Book,” and so many of his other great works if his childhood had not been so hard?

Quick SpotLight on a party in Door County, Wisconsin, 2010. Click to play!

Jonathan, Siri, Kayleigh, Chelsea, Leah, Sophie