Explication of Rudyard Kipling's Poem Term Paper

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¶ … Rudyard Kiplings Poem "if"

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Rudyard Kipling's "If" is an inspirational poem which was first published in his collection "Rewards and Fairies" in 1909. The poem "If" is structured into four stanzas and has a total of thirty-two lines. It is conceived as a fatherly address and contains a set of 'rules' for living. The poem is both inspirational and motivational, and provides the imaginary son the poet addresses with a set of norms - expressed as advice - that one must follow in life. "If" contains mottos and maxims for life, but also a blueprint for integrity and self-development during adulthood. The themes of the poem are both personal and private values. In order to fully understand what Kipling is trying to convey through his poem, "If," one must reflect upon the meaning of the term 'value' as well as its significance within both the private and the public spheres. People's behavior is guided by the values that they have been educated to believe in. some values are social - or public, others are private. Public values are those ensuring social acceptance, e.g. honesty, loyalty, tolerance, respect for the law, religious faith, and so on. Private values are those that are important to the individual only, such as those inoculated through education, and family background, e.g. self-respect, self-assertion, the ability to communicate, etc. However, in the case of Kipling, the values belonging to these two realms - public and private - are intertwined. Kipling holds that in order to be a man in the true sense of the word, one must find a perfect balance between the values that govern the public self and those which belong to the public self.

Term Paper on Explication of Rudyard Kipling's Poem Assignment

In the first stanza, Kipling refers to the ideals of humility and responsibility, two social values that any man must have in order to lead a life of integrity and dignity. He advises his son - a metaphor for his audience, perhaps especially the younger part of it - not to lose their head i.e. not to forget their responsibilities and duties: "If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs" (Kipling: lines 1-2). In Kipling's vision, self-respect and self-confidence are two of the most important qualities. He argues in favor of the capacity to trust yourself even when others blame and accuse you. However, Kipling does not invite his readers to adopt an attitude of arrogance, but to consider what their opponents are saying. Patience is a virtue, and Kipling openly refers to it as such: "If you can wait and not be tired by waiting" (Kipling: line 5); not being tired of waiting is a metaphor which refers to the fact that through patience and endurance, anything is possible and achievable in life. Lies and deceit can only give rise to more lies and deceit, thus Kipling advises his audience to treat others as they would like to be treated; in this sense, he argues that even when treated with lying and hatred, one must learn how to avoid "dealing in lies" and "giving way to hating."

The theme of following one's dreams despite all adversities is extensively explored in the second stanza. Dreams are positive and inspirational, and it is only through dreaming that one can set, then pursue, and ultimately achieve, one's goal. However, being solely a dreamer does not entail any kind of success, as it is only through action that dreams can come true. The word "master" refers precisely to this idea, that being governed solely by… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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