POEM of the Day (10)




my little ones, this poem is the absolute essence of pure paternal wisdom. I recommended it once to a very attractive co-worker whom I thought a little more intelligent (or less indoctrinated) than she proved. Win a few, lose a few—


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 all 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!

—Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)


—she lacked the nous to translate it from the mores of an earlier era to suit her own prejudices. Her loss, not mine.


bits of it may need interpretation for some, I concede. My own sister for example didn’t understand the “sixty seconds’ worth of distance run” although “the unforgiving minute” gelled. A simple sample brushstroke, easily explained:

Before modern technology a ship would trail a log on a string knotted at regular intervals. The log would be tossed over the stern and allowed to draw out string as the ship travelled away from it—after a measured minute the relevant knot would be noted and translated to the distance covered in one sixty-second period; the actual “sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”.

These days we use anything from electromagnetic induction, comparison of static and impact pressures, GPS, and gods alone know what else to measure speed in … wait for it … knots~!*


that Attractive Co-worker Lady understood much more in life than she was a downtrodden victim-of-the-ages—certainly I had my MCP ears pounded for a long time afterwards for recommending such prejudice-perpetuating utter rubbish. Win a few, lose a few …



*  For all I know the simple traditional knot is now ‘kilometres per hour’ or something equally as unwieldy and artificial. I’ll stick with knots myself—I like knots (the SI sucks … no poetry in it for a start).



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