Web Site Home
ESL Home
If
by (Joseph) Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
He was a British writer who was born in Bombay, India. The poem here is from The Oxford Book of Children's Verse, eds. Iona and Peter Opie (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), page 324.
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 them 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!

Vocabulary
keep your head: stay calm in an emergency
to blame \bleim\: to say who made the mistake
make allowance for: make room for, to permit
to doubt \daut\: to not believe or trust
deal \dil\: work with
aim \eim\: goal, purpose
impostor \im-'PAS-ter\: person who pretends to be someone else
knave \neiv\: dishonest person
stoop \stup\: bend over
heap \hip\: pile
sinew \'SI-nyu\: muscle
virtue \'VIR-chu\: standard of excellence; courage

*pronunciation for 5-vowel languages
Grammar

Conditionals (conditions) and Modals (add meaning; followed by bare infinitive form of verb, e.g., will call, must be)

1. First conditional: what is possible in the present or the future
a. If you can do it, then you will be a man. = IF + simple present dot WILL (in the future) / CAN (are able to) / MAY (there's a chance) / SHALL (strong chance) / OUGHT TO (suggestion) / HAVE TO, HAD BETTER (strong suggestion) / MUST (very strong suggestion or conclusion) + bare infinitive form of verb
(Activity) SPOKEN CUE: If you can do it, you will be a man.   SPOKEN ANSWER: You will be a man if you can do it.

b. If I win, you win, too. = IF + simple present dot simple present
c. If you are there first, tell the others to wait. = IF + simple present dot imperative (command)

2. Second conditional: what is possible in the present, but probably won't happen
If you could do it, then you would be a man. = IF + COULD + bare infinitive form of verb dot WOULD / COULD / MIGHT / SHOULD + bare infinitive form of verb
If I had a bicycle, I could go with you. = IF + simple past dot WOULD / COULD / MIGHT / SHOULD + bare infinitive form of verb

(Special note: "if I were," not "if I was" — subjunctive mood of a verb for contrary-to-fact [or not true] subordinate clause)
If I were rich, I would go to Hawaii. I wish it were true.
If he were going, I would go, too. I wish he were here.

3. Third conditional: what is impossible now because we are talking about the past (it's too late)
If you could have done it, then you would have been a man. = IF + COULD + HAVE + past participle form of verb dot WOULD + HAVE + past participle form of verb
If I had had more time, I would have told him. = IF + past perfect (HAD + past participle form of verb) dot WOULD + HAVE + past participle form of verb
If I had not quit my job, I would be a millionaire by now. = IF + past perfect (HAD + past participle form of verb) dot WOULD + BE