Monday, March 7, 2011

Points to Ponder: Filling the Unforgiving Minute...

Just to make one thing clear, I am not a fan of Rudyard Kipling from a political point of view so my admiration for this poem should not necessarily be taken to mean I admire the man's policy on colonialism. But I admire his poem "IF". I first came across this poem when I was in college and going through some hard times. Within a short time, together with my housemates we quickly memorised the poem and each person picked the line which resonated with them at that time. Today I read a blog post about boredom (Meanderings and Reflections), and later I thought about the line If you can fill the unforgiving minute; With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - When I read this line back then, I made a vow that if I lived true to it, then I will always be doing something meaningful with my time - a vow that has been forgotten and broken thousands of time. So today this line becomes my point to ponder for the week. I have also posted the full poem below for those who have not come across it, or had forgotten about it. I would also like to hear back from you on which line resonates with you!

If - Rudyard 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, 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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!

Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children.


  1. I'm not sure Kipling "celebrated" colonialism ... it was something of his times - he knew no differently.

    This is a memorable poem my favourite line,
    "If you can dream and not make dreams your master."

  2. I really really love that poem, thank you for reminding me of that today! It has so many incredibly wise and valid points that it could be adopted as an ideal for living.

    Have a lovely week!

  3. Jane.healy - I agree he knew no different, I have always been under the impression from my early history that he celebrated imperialism but then maybe I need to re-read my history!

  4. If you can wait and not be tired by waiting...

    To me this sums up everything. Impatience is what ruins a lot of things, more so for me. Problem is, after realising that patience is necessary in everything I do, I go again and lose it.

    Very powerful poem, especially because I could pick one or two more lines I could relate to.

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  6. Excellent post. I loved that poem when I was young too and I applaud you for your renewed committment to spending your time wisely. While we are here on earth we only have so much time ;-) Thanks for stopping by my blog. My friend's blog link is there on the post at the bottom now but here it is for you (and maybe your readers)
    Blessings p.s. for updates on little Kigen those posts will likely appear on my blog first but we will try to keep Jonah's blog updated as quickly as possible also.

  7. Carolkmail, that's an interesting line, especially in this age of "I want it now!"

    Joyful, I will check out his blog and spread the word

  8. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
    great lines

  9. REally nice.. It takes me back to my school days- I remember a story by Kipling about a mongoose " Rikki Tikki Tavi" and ofcourse his chauvinistic poem " The ballad of east and west" But this poem was some what different...



  10. What an interesting way of looking at boredom....If has been a poem I always loved. Like Colleen said it could be like rules for living. Nice post, Otieno (I hope I'm addressing you correctly).

  11. It is a beautiful poem; sums up what we strive to be...

  12. @Meerasrajan - thanks for visiting my blog!

    @corinne - yes, you got my my name right :) I agree with both you and colleen, indeed it is like a rule book, or rather guide on how we go about some issues in our lives.

  13. Sm, there are times when indeed you have to just trust yourself when everyone is doubting what you are about...

    Nyambura - these are high ideals to strive up to!

  14. Everytime i read that poem, it sounds like i have heard it for the first time.Thank you for sharing!

  15. I love the whole poem, not just one verse. It is should be 'What maketh a man' instead of 'if'.