This is the most terrible and the most beautiful of poems.
And I don’t care about Victorian virtues, I don’t know what it is and it never concerned me, I don’t know what was happening in England in 1895 and the Boer War has little meaning for me, I care even less about the foolish opinions of those who were so afraid of these words that they cried parricide – what I do know is that the words of this poem awakened my conscience at that age when we decide what we will do with our conscience, our morality and our honor.
I don’t know if the words that need to be restrained from being said, it is still possible to think them and worse, to write them.
I know I have these words in my head today – so to save myself from dishonor, I remember Mr. 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 or 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 the words 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!
This, I believe, is the honor and strength of art, words, poems and stories.
To offer us these immense forces when we feel we are losing them, to offer us these words, when everything is collapsing and hatred, fear, hysteria, stupidity are pouring out in immense, infinite torrents, so disgusting with filth
How to fight against that? I only found the words of people so much bigger than me.
That’s why it is necessary, whatever the cost, to let these words live, to maintain them, to give them to others, to those we will never know as well as to those we will love, for this reason it is necessary that great places of words make room for these great words.
I remember reading this but it was a long time ago. Thank you for bringing it to me again. It is certainly a poem worth reading.
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Hello – it was … my pleasure and his great, great, words. I love this poem since my 13, it made me want to read Kipling – who is not so well known in France, I must admit. 🙂
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