Rudyard Kipling’s inspirational poem – ‘If’

Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936) inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living. Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. ‘If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy. Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – a poignant reflection of the poem’s timeless and inspiring quality.

The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling. In later life the deaths of two of his children also affected Kipling deeply.

Rudyard Kipling achieved fame quickly, based initially on his first stories and poems written in India (he returned there after College), and his great popularity with the British public continued despite subsequent critical reaction to some of his more conservative work, and critical opinion in later years that his poetry was superficial and lacking in depth of meaning.

Significantly, Kipling turned down many honours offered to him including a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling’s wide popular appeal survives through other works, notably The Jungle Book (1894) the novel, Kim (1901), and Just So Stories (1902).

Read on the poem ………..

Mount Road

In the midst of the city of Madras
A road that was named after douting Thomas
A road so long as ever seen
And the crowd that flocks has never been
In any other road, other than Mount Road

The beauty of the road
Is like that of a black board
So dark and shining
With the buildings soaring
All along the edge of Mount Road

The cop stands in the middle
With a thing in his mouth, known as a “biggle”
Which sounds shrill through the air
That stops all the vehicles like a stare
All this happens on the Black Mount Road

For the pleasure seeking kid
There’s fun all over, to make him a nit-wit
With the theatres and hotels within everyone’s reach
Like the pebble strewn all over the beach
Along the pleasant Mount Road

Here and there is a sub-way
Through which the pedestrians make their way
And there is a fly-over
Which makes all the vehicles to hop over
So exciting and thrilling is busy-busy Mount Road

A poem written on Mount Road in Chennai (Madras), India.
by Ramesh Ranjan
published in 1985 as 1st year student at Madras School of Social Work, Chennai