Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Inspirational Poem #2

The second poem that I've always found inspirational is If by Rudyard Kipling. I heard someplace that Kipling was a bit of a racist and certainly his roots lay in a very imperialistic Britain of the late 19th century. His reputation suffered unfairly partly because some of his works included a swastika. However according to the fountain of all
Knowledge that is wikipedia kipling's use of the symbol predates the Nazi adoption of it and was intended to represent An Indian sun symbol conferring luck and wellbeing.

Anyway, regardless of his political perspective, I still love the poem If. It has helped me both physically and emotionally. When I was 18 and working away from home in Cape Cod one summer I found myself working the night shift in a plastic factory. I was a scrawny city lad and completely unprepared for the physical demands of the job. Each night my goal was just to make it to the coffee break, and then to the lunch break. And the only thing that kept me going were the lines...

'If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve their turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in
Except the will which says to them hold on.'

Even now, 25 years later whenI hear those lines I can feel the ach in my back and the sense of achievement that came with not giving up. I have 2 sons and I think if they grow up with the values expressed in this poem
I'll be happy.
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!