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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Poetry Analysis Essay on Rudyard Kipling’s If

Poetry Analysis Essay on Rudyard Kipling’s If

Use the poem If by Rudyard Kipling and analyze it in a way that explains how it moves you. Analyze the poem. Talk about the title, meter, rhyme, irony, metaphors, etc

If is regarded as one of Rudyard Kipling’s most popular poems. It was composed in 1910 and has immediately attracted much praise and attention in Great Britain. In fact, this poem has been translated in various languages and has been printed and reprinted over the years. This didactic poem talks about a variety of theme. However, one of the major themes is that of manhood and leadership particularly during difficult times. In fact, the author opened the poem giving an idea about challenges of life:

                        “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,” (Kipling 1)

The first three lines give an idea how life can sometimes be difficult and how men can turn their back on each other during trying times. The author continues by adding life’s reality such as “being lied about” as well as “being hated”. And although he offers the bitter reality of life, Kipling also counteracts this by offering pieces of advice. This is evident in the lines “if you can keep your head”, “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”, “don’t deal in lies”, and “don’t give way to hating” (Kipling 1).

Kipling continues to give several difficulties and challenges of life in the following seven lines. Along with these challenges, the author also stressed the idea of people and how they sometimes are unable to take responsibilities for both their actions and inactions. Rather, they opt the easy way out and put the blame on other people except for themselves. As such, Kipling underlines the importance of taking responsibility for the choices that you made. Similarly the author advice to look for life answers within yourself and at the same time not allowing these hardships to bring you down. This is best exemplified in the line:

                        “And so hold on when there is nothing in you
                        Except the will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’” (Kipling 1).

Another important theme in this poem is of perseverance and courage. Kipling talks about how important it is to dare to dream and yet not allowing those dream to control your life. He likewise talks about embracing these dreams and being sensitive enough not to trample other people’s dream. At the same time, the author also talks about being humble and not allowing triumph to get into one’s head.

Apart from these themes, the author similarly uses numerous literary devices to convey the message in the poem. Irony is one of the most prevalent literary devices used by Kipling. For instance, the line: “if you could think”, is contradicted by the author by saying: “and not make thoughts your aim.” This is likewise visible when Kipling talks about hate when he mention “Or being hated, don’t give way to hating” (Kipling 1). 

Repetition is likewise present in this poem as Kipling used the phrase “if you” all throughout the poem. “If” is used to stress the possibility of finding oneself in that situation, while “you” is used to emphasizes of owning up and taking responsibility. Another poetic device used in this poem is personification. Kipling masterfully gives movement and life to this piece by using personification. Examples of such lines include “make dreams your master”, “if you can force your heart and nerves and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone”, as well as “if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” (Kipling 1). In such lines, we can see how Kipling pours human-like attributes to these abstract qualities, which in turn adds life to the entire piece.

Works Cited
Kipling, Rudyard. If.  New York: Athenuem Books, 2007

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1 comment:

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