'If' Rudyard Kipling
Terms in this set (30)
Kipling defines the qualities and characteristics deemed essential to the ideal man for his son. This poem discusses life's challenges and how the ideal man deals with them. This poem celebrates the stereotypical concept of manhood.
Similar characteristics are expressed by Kipling in...
"The thousandth man".
Born in India when it belonged to Britain. He moved to England when he was five. In 1907 he won a noble prize in literature.
Although offered on multiple occasions, Kipling declined knighthood. Not wanting the recognition he rightfully deserved.
Structure : Rhyming scheme
Kipling does not deviate from the regular rhyming scheme of (ABAB).
Structure : Repetition of 'if'
The advice is presented in a series of statements beginning with the conditional word 'if'. Making the poem more contained.
Sentence Structure (syntax)
Kipling has manipulated the structure of sentences in 'if' by using conjunctions ('and') to link ideas. Delaying the arrival of the subject until the last line. This creates a sense of gathering force as we get close towards the end.
General idea in this stanza is that one should be true to oneself. To not reduce yourself to the same level of those who 'deal in lies' and 'give way to hating'. To remain level headed 'keep your head' and 'trust yourself' whilst taking their doubts into consideration.
The use of pronouns such as 'you' and 'yours'
Demands that we listen. Capturing our attention, making us readers feel included.
When we reach the end of the poem we realise that Kipling is addressing his son, John.
The first three lines end in "you"
Which exaggerates the personal nature of this address.
"Don't deal in lies" "Don't give way to hating" "Don't look too good."
Are strong and demand your attention. Stressing the importance of being a good man.
The second stanza focuses on overcoming obstacles that can prevent us from achieving our full potential in life.
Personification of dreams in:
"you can dream - and not make dreams your master."
Suggests we should not allow dreams to take control of our lives nor should we become slaves to dreams. We must be realistic.
Personification of 'Triumph and Disaster"
Triumph signifies victory and Disaster signifies defeat: two contrasting outcomes in life. This personification is achieved by the use of capital letters which draws the attention of the reader to these two 'imposters' that have been brought to life.
Kipling uses alliteration 1) "Treat these two" 2) "the truth...Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"
Drawing attention to key phrases. 2) draws attention to contrasting forces ie. truth and knave (dishonest/unprincipled man).
We must overcome both favourable and unfavourable circumstances such as triumph and disaster. We must keep our guards up despite victory, nor lose hope when faced with defeat.
The use of enjambment...
Speeds up the pace of the poem, making it flow faster as it draws readers from line to line.
This stanza implies that taking risks are essential in life. We must learn how to persevere and push past our limits. And in defeat, we must be stoical and willing to start again.
Rule of three "your heart and nerve and sinew"
Capitalization of "Will"
Biblical allusion intended to encourage his son to invoke God's Will. Relevant as stanza refers to how we must persevere through the lowest points in our lives and 'hold on!'
Exclamation mark "hold on!"
emphasises the importance of perseverance
In this stanza, Kipling discusses how we handle both the lowest and highest echelons of society and not be influenced by either of them. To remain true to oneself and ones beliefs. Also stresses the importance of living life to the fullest.
"Neither foes or loving friends can hurt you"
This suggests that becoming overly emotionally invested to any one person makes you vulnerable and susceptible to being hurt.
Metaphor "unforgiving minute"
The metaphor "unforgiving minute" implies that time will not wait for you, and does not care if you or your dreams are left behind.
"If you can feel the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run"
This quote best represents the idea that you should make the most of every minute and live your life to the fullest.
The cumulative structure of the poem suggests that...
Becoming a man in an on-going process, it can't happen overnight. Proving the process to be both demanding and challenging.
This structure adds...
Meaning to the poem. Whilst creating a deeply contemplative work of literature.
Anaphora : the repetition of similar words or phrases.
If you can WAIT and not be tired by WAITING;
Or, being LIED about, don't deal in LIES;
Creates a pulse or heart beat running through the poem. Relevant to the message Kipling is trying to convey about the way we chose to live our lives.
Why is this poem timeless? Is the advice given still relevant today?
The advice is still relevant today because we are all bound to experience victory and defeat. We're bound to cross paths with people who are envious of our success and doubting of our decisions. This poem teaches us how to overcome these circumstances and obstacles.
"Yours is the Earth...."
to help maintain rhythm and to emphasis the reward for being a good man.